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Vespula germanica L.
Vespa germanica

Insecta, Hymenoptera, Vespidae .

German wasp

Description, Biology, Life Cycle, Damage, Common Names, Images

- Adult: blackish brown, pedunculate abdomen, striped with yellow. Males measure 13 to 17 mm long, workers 12 to 16 mm, queens 17 to 20 mm. Antennae have 13 segments in males, and 12 in females. The male abdomen has 7 segments, the female 6, the latter being equipped with an ovipositor (*) .

The most commonly encountered wasp. Actively predatory on other insects, particularly Diptera (flies, mosquitoes) and caterpillars. In summer it also feeds on flower nectar and the pulp of ripe fruits (phytophagous diet).
- The nest may be sited above or below ground, but always in shady areas (holes in walls, hollow rocks, disused burrows). A 2 to 3 cm diameter opening provides access.
- The paste used to fabricate the cells and walls of the nest is made from pieces of young wood and bark masticated and mixed with saliva. It is greyish in colour.
The nest may reach a diameter of 30 cm and contain more than 10,000 individuals.
- The German wasp is relively long-living.
- Wasps forage up to 500 m from their nest.

[R]Life Cycle
- Fertilized females or "queens" overwinter in a sheltered place. They start to emerge at around mid-March. Workers appear later, during the summer and, if the climate is not too rigorous, continue to forage until mid-November.
- The queen builds the first cells of the nest, then lays an egg in each cell. She feeds the first larvae herself; thereafter, workers will continue to construct the nest and care for or nourish the eggs, (larvae and pupae).
- Males and females of the new generation are formed in summer; after mating, fertilized queens overwinter while males and workers die before the onset of winter.

The wasp attacks ripe fruits which it excavates to obtain sugary food (*) (*) , scrape off the tender bark of young trees to obtain construction material and sugary sap. In summer and autumn, it enters dwellings in the search for sugary foodstuffs for its own nourishment and meat to feed the larvae.
This wasp is aggressive; its sting may be dangerous to man and domestic animals.

The German wasp is found throughout Europe except on the Scandinavian peninsula.

[R]Common Names
DE: Deutsche Wespe ES: Avispa germŠnica, Avispa comun FR: GuÍpe germanique IT: Vespa germanica PT: Vespa GB: German wasp

[R] Images

  1. Vespula germanica F. (Coutin R. / OPIE)
    Female (queen) Fundatrix after overwintering.
  2. Vespula germanica F. (Coutin R. / OPIE)
    Damage to pear
  3. Vespula germanica F. (BASF)
    Damage to grape

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