Order Hymenoptera: The Wasps

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

Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris)
Common Wasp
(Vespula vulgaris)
German Wasp Vespula germanica
German Wasp
(Vespula germanica)
European Hornet Vespa crabro
European Hornet
(Vespa crabro)

Family Crabronidae: Crabronid Wasps

Ornate-tailed Digger Wasp Cerceris rybyensis
Ornate-tailed Digger Wasp
(Cerceris rybyensis)
Crossocerus annulipes
Crossocerus annulipes
Gorytes laticinctus male
Gorytes laticinctus

Family Ichneumonidae: Ichneumon Wasps

Ichneumon xanthorius male
Ichneumon xanthorius
Ephialtini sp. female
Ephialtini sp.
Ichneumon stramentor female
Ichneumon stramentor
Yellow Ophion Ophion luteus
Yellow Ophion
(Ophion luteus)
Diplazon laetatorius
Diplazon laetatorius

Family Chrysididae: Ruby-tailed Wasps

Pseudomalus auratus
Pseudomalus auratus

Family Cynipidae: Gall Wasps

Cherry Gall Wasp (Cynips quercusfolii)
Cherry Gall Wasp
(Cynips quercusfolii)
Knopper Gall (Andricus quercuscalicis)
Knopper Gall
(Andricus quercuscalicis)
Robin's Pincushion (Diplolepis rosae)
Robin’s Pincushion
(Diplolepis rosae)

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.