I togged this Common Wasp Vespula vulgaris in the garden when it paused for a moment to soak up some November sun after enjoying the never to ripen pinot noir on my grape vine. Now here’s an insect with attitude. Mess with these guys and they will sting you multiple times. But rarely without reason.
I realise they can be rather irritating if you are enjoying a pint in a beer garden or al fresco dining on a warm summers day. But they are usually harmless unless you absentmindedly drink one or allow one to crawl down past the gold medallion glinting from the depths of your far too open-neck shirt and then start leaping about like the late Ian Curtis of Joy Division. Obviously I’m making allowances for the innocent, babies, small children and those who suffer from adverse reactions to stings. Anaphylactic shock is no laughing matter. But nothing amuses me more than seeing a grown man or woman running around and screaming like a jessie convinced he or she is being chased by a wasp. As if. Wasps are far too cool.
There are nine species of social wasps commonly found in the UK. The Hornet Vespo crabro, the Median or French Wasp Dolichovespula media, the Saxon Wasp Dolichovespula saxonica, the Tree Wasp Dolichovespula sylvestris, the Norwegian Wasp Dolichovespula norwegica, the German or European Wasp Vespula germanica, the Red Wasp Vespula rufa, the Common Wasp Vespula vulgaris and the CuckooWasp Vespula austriaca.
With the exception of the Hornet which is much larger and more of an orange colour you tell these little yellow and black terror-inducers apart by their different facial and abdominal markings. The common wasp for example is most easily distinguished from the similar german (or european) wasp by the anchor-shaped mark on its face as opposed to the german’s three small dots.
All you’ve got to do is stare it in the face. Go on feel the fear and do it anyway.