Down At The Watering Hole

Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris)

Photographs of Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) taken August 2016, rear garden pond, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

I have had a fascinating few months watching my garden pond develop, but one thing I wasn’t really expecting was the regular visitation of wasps. They drop by to have a drink, and then they are off again, and aren’t any real bother at all.

A Deady Game of Survival

Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus)

I guess the fight for survival could have gone either way in the above image. I came across this Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus) in its orb web with a nicely wrapped up food parcel. This food parcel was a social wasp, most likely the Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris), and if it had got a sting in it could have been over for the spider. I suppose it all depends on how wrapped up the wasp had become in the web, and how weak it was. Either way, the spider got its lunch.

Photograph of Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus) with the Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris), taken August 2016, rear garden , Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens with softbox flash diffuser.

Common Wasp

Vespula vulgaris

Similar to the German Wasp (Vespula germanica) which has has three black spots on its face and forms a triangle, where as the Common Wasp has an anchor-shaped mark on its face. It has bright yellow and black bands running down its body, and four large yellow spots at the rear of its thorax. Length 10 to 18mm.

The nest is made from chewed wood and is paper-like. It is constructed underground, in tree hollows, or in sheds and attics and is yellowish in colour. The adults hunt for other insects, most often caterpillars, to feed their larvae. The adults feed on nectar.

Seen April to October. Found in various habitats wherever there is suitable prey, including woodland, parkland and gardens. A common and widespread species throughout Britain.

Photographs taken May 2014, on garage wall in rear garden, Staffordshire. I notice they like to drink from my birdbath and garden pool. I also hear and see them scraping bits of wood from my larchlap fence which they must use to build their nests.