German Wasp - Vespula germanica


Very similar in appearance to the Common Wasp, though very slightly bigger. The best way of telling them apart is by looking at the face. There are usually three small black spots (rarely one) and it is never anchor-shaped as it is in case of the Common Wasp. The antennae are black right down at the base. The thoracic stripes usually bulge in the middle and there are four yellow spots at the rear of the thorax.

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

There are two key features that help to identify the German Wasp and to separate it from the Common Wasp:

  1. The ocular sinus is large, almost convex towards the antennae, and the black lines running under each antenna are very thin. Vespula vulgaris on the other hand has much wider and curved black lines which project into the ocular sinus, giving it a somewhat concave shape.
  2. The yellow bands on the sides of the thorax are always parallel-sided in Vespula vulgaris and sub-triangular in Vespula germanica.

German wasp


Almost anywhere.

When to see it

April/May to September/October.

Life History

The nest is like that of the Common Wasp but greyish in colour. It is normally made underground in an abandoned mouse nest or even a mole hill. Construction of the nest often starts as early as mid April. The nests can become very large with thousands of individuals and, unusually, may have more than one entrance.

UK Status

Common in Britain particularly in the south of England.

VC55 Status

Common in Leicestershire and Rutland.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map