Wasps appear to be the bane of summer picnics or hot days out in the garden, and yet they are a fascinating and diverse species of insect. Some wasps form complex and highly developed societies, whilst others are purely solitary. The wasp we tend to encounter and swat away is the Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris), and out of all the species of wasp it is this one that has given wasps in general a bad and fearsome name.
Wasps belong to the large insect order Hymenoptera, which also has the bees, ants and sawflies for company. Like bees, wasps are very important pollinators, and they also help to reduce pest species like caterpillars, flies and aphids. There are over 7, 000 wasp species in the UK, and despite some of their annoyances to us, they play an important roll in a healthy and balanced ecosystem.
Family Vespidae: Social Wasps
Family Crabronidae: Crabronid Wasps
Family Ichneumonidae: Ichneumon Wasps
Family Chrysididae: Ruby-tailed Wasps
Family Cynipidae: Gall Wasps
For further reference and with help and thanks for confirming identifcation of some of the more challenging species see the links below.
BWARS Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society – The Society aims to promote the recording of aculeate Hymenoptera in Great Britain and Ireland, and to foster links with similar societies and interested individuals throughout Europe.
Facebook UK Bees, Wasps and Ants Group – UK Bees, Wasps and Ants is an open group for people interested in the aculeate Hymenoptera, the bees, wasps and ants, of the Britain and Ireland. The group is managed by BWARS, the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society.
iRecord – iRecord is a website for sharing wildlife observations, including associated photos – you can register quickly and for free. Once you’ve registered, you can add your own biological records for other to see, and you can see what has been recorded by others. The goal of iRecord is to make it easier for wildlife sightings to be collated, checked by experts and made available to support research and decision-making at local and national levels.
NBN Atlas – The NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas is an online tool that provides a platform to engage, educate and inform people about the natural world. It will help improve biodiversity knowledge, open up research possibilities and change the way environmental management is carried out in the UK.