The German Wasp (Vespula germanica): Key Features
Length: 12 - 20mm long
Body: Black and yellow with black spots on its abdomen
Face: Has three black spots on its face
Nest: Likes to nest in hollow trees, burrows or in properties with 5 - 10000+ individuals
The German Wasp joins V.vulgaris as one of the two most abundant wasp species in the British Isles. It is widespread throughout the northern hemisphere, including Australia, New Zealand, Africa, North America and Argentina.
Females are 12-16mm long antennas consist of 12 segments, and a 6 segmented abdomen is equipped with a modified ovipositor that doubles as a sting.
Males are 12-18mm long and have 13 segments to their antennas and an abdomen consisting of 7 segments without a sting.
Queens, as you would expect, are larger at 17-20mm long and despite their ability to lay eggs they can still use their ovipositor as a sting.
The nest is made with chewed up wood pulp mixed with saliva and is greyish in colour reaching football size with a diameter of 30cm (12in) that contains over 10,000 individuals.
In the northern hemisphere, environmental conditions take their toll and once abandoned in the autumn it quickly disintegrates.
In warmer climates such as Africa and Australia, the nest may continue to grow over consecutive seasons. High tempeatures result in significant nests with over 100,000 individuals that are potentially very dangerous.
It usually chooses to nest underground yet is commonly found in the loft spaces and other cavities of dwellings. V. germanica can be aggressive so caution must be taken when in proximity to these insects.
The Sting Of Vespula Germanica
The sting of the German wasp is fairly painful, not because it's particularly potent, but because the wasp itself grinds the sting into you.
In keeping with all UK wasps, V.germanica does not have a barbed sting so can sting you multiple times with no adverse effect on itself.
The sensation is what you might imagine a burning needle feels like when injected into your skin. Although the pain is temporary, on a scale of one to ten, it would rate as a six or above depending on where you were stung!
Once stung you will immediately see localised swelling and a raised white patch of skin will be prominent with the red sting site at its centre that often bleeds slightly.
Venom extraction devices work better than any other form of remedy we have tried, and we've tried quite a few.
The swelling and any remaining pain soon gives way to intense itching and after 2 - 7 days is completely gone.
We are all different, and the ways in which our bodies react to a given antigen will vary, so be grateful if your experiences are better than described because the outcome can be much worse, especially for those at risk of anaphylactic shock.
Do German Wasps Attack British Bees?
We've seen German wasps around hives, but never in numbers that could be detrimental to the colony. These wasps can be robust and make short work of a honey bee, yet in contrast to the European hornet are of little consequence.
This is just our experience, and we are always interested to hear from others who have experiences to the contrary.
How To Get Rid Of German Wasps
German wasps as previously described are robust and produce massive nests with a formidable temperament.
Many different products exist to eliminate wasps, and the product of choice and method of choice will depend on the location.
Any mature nests in a confined space could easily kill an unsuspecting or poorly prepared person. We have direct experience of customers falling through ceilings after being swarmed.
We have also had a customer who's fall proved to be fatal because they lost their footing on a knackered step ladder, landing ribs first on the bannister below.
Professional control often costs the same as a night out, and might just save your life or at the very least save your dignity.
German Wasps Vs Common Wasps
In contrast, the German wasp is larger, slightly more aggressive and is found nesting in the ground a little more often. To the untrained eye little else of any consequence is different.
What Is "WASP" In German?
Random, but someone asked, so in Germany, wasps are called "WESPE".
View our Bristol Wasp Nest Removal Page
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