Wasps are reasonably large flying insects whose bodies are recognisably divided into three sections – head, thorax, abdomen. They are closely related to ants and bees.
They have black and yellow striped bodies. Adult worker wasps are about 1.3-1.5cm (½in) long and queen wasps are 2-2.5cm (¾-1in) long.
Queen wasps emerge from hibernation in spring. At first, she works on her own to build a nest – about the size of a golf or tennis ball – where she lays eggs and gathers food for her first batch of larvae. The white, maggot-like larvae pupate and then emerge as infertile females, known as workers. These workers take over the task of building a larger nest and gathering food. The queen now remains in the nest and lays lots more eggs.
By late summer, males and fertile females are produced, the females becoming the following year’s queens. In autumn, the workers, males and queen die and the young queens leave the nest to find somewhere sheltered to overwinter.
There are also several species of solitary wasp. These fascinating insects either have no sting or are very unlikely to sting.