Description and notes
The eusocial wasp Polistes biglumis was formerly added to the British list on the basis of several females and males present in July to September 2020 at a country park on the Kent coast (Hazlehurst, 2020). The number present implied at least one nest. It is a larger species than other Polistes - queens can reach a length of up to 16 millimeters, worker up to 14 millimeters.
South and Central Europe, northern France and the Benelux countries, north to Norway and Sweden south of 65°. Eastwards to Turkey and Central Asia.
A useful key is available in Falk and George 2021
In Europe the species is primarily associated with alpine habitats being found up to 2400m in the European alps. Further north it is found in cooler low land open habitat.
From May-June to August-September.
Polistes biglumis, like other primitive eusocial species exhibits flexible caste expression. Populations living under severe conditions have no workers, all females are gynes. Those living in less severe conditions do have workers. Gynes have more fat bodies and spend less time foraging. Colonies are always founded by a single foundress. However nests have frequent queen turnover, caused by mated gynes usurping the nests of unrelated queens.
The paper nests can be attached to bushes, rocks or on the walls of buildings but not in enclosed spaces such as lofts.
Year profile last updated