As we enter into June Wasps are now starting to become active. Some wasp nests can have up to 10,000 wasps in them during the season. Above is a picture of a queen, which is starting to build a small golf ball size nest. She has laid the grubs inside and will carry this on for the whole summer. The wasp nest can be very large at the end of the season.
The nest is made from chewed plant fibres, mixed with saliva. The majority of nests are found in the soil below ground. A significant portion of nests are found in artificial structures such as attics, and a small portion are found above ground.
A single queen initiates a nest in the spring by constructing an embryonic nest, which contains a series of hexagonal cells. These cells are used to house one wasp through the immature stages of life: egg, larval instar, and pupa. The colony grows rapidly during the summer with a huge increase in worker numbers and nest size. By the end of summer, the rate of growth slows considerably and more males are produced than workers, and the focus is shifted from building small cells to building cells that are 30-40 percent larger. These new cells house the new queens and males. In the fall, the new queens begin hibernation, while the old queens die off and the colony collapses. In some cases, the nests may survive through the winter and reach the next season. If this occurs, the nest will become polygynous and reach a much larger size than in the previous year.
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.