When is a Wasp not a Wasp?

A bit of a discussion ensued the other day when I was looking at my photos and was about to label a Common Wasp, when it turned out that it might not be a Common Wasp but a Tree Wasp. Often with wasps, the tendency is to run away and not spend time thinking about the particular type. If you look closely though, there are differences … though figuring out what the differences mean is easier said than done!

This might or might not be a Common Wasp … it has some spots between the stripes, but does that mean it’s a Common Wasp?

Common Wasp
Common Wasp? (Vespula Vulgaris)

This one is spot free, with just stripes, so it might be a Tree Wasp … or maybe not …

Tree Wasp
Tree Wasp? (Dolichovespula sylvestris)

And then there are other insects who look like wasps but aren’t wasps at all, like this sneaky hoverfly who nearly had us fooled:

Hoverfly mimicing a Wasp (Chrysotoxum cautum)
Hoverfly mimicing a Wasp (Chrysotoxum cautum)

Also, as you can probably see, these wasps like to munch on wood. They love our garden chairs & table, the shed, the old gate … etc. You have to be careful when you sit on a chair in the garden in case you sit on a wasp. I don’t think they’d be very impressed to be sat on!

By Suzy Shipman

I like to take photos and write words ...


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