Beginners bees, wasps & ants: Dolichovespula media - Median Wasp


Dolichovespula media - median wasp

The second largest British social wasp species. D. media was first recorded in 1980 in Sussex, since when it has spread over all of England and Wales, and much of southern Scotland. It has a short life cycle, with nests finishing in August.

Nests are aerial and generally exposed, usually hanging from trees or bushes.

Key features

  • The workers generally resemble other yellow and black social wasps
  • almost black colour forms are often encountered with greatly reduced yellow banding on the abdomen.
  • All castes have yellow markings on the top and front-sides of the thorax which are said to resemble the NIKE logo, or when viewed from above look like two back-to-back, or mirrored, number 7’s.

Similar species

Queen median wasps are sometimes mistaken for hornets (Vespa crabro) due to sharing some red coloration, but hornets lack any yellow markings on the thorax. Hornets also lack the deep black coloration of the median wasp and other species of social wasp.

More information about Dolichovespula media

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Above - Dolichovespula media worker by Steven Falk.

Below left - worker showing inverted '7 markings' by John Vallender.

Below right - dark form of worker by Jeremy Early


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