Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua


Diagram showing wasp body partsOrder: Hymenoptera
Family: Vespidae
Subfamily: Vespinae
Genus: Vespula
Species: V. germanica; V. vulgaris

Wasps, bees and ants (the order "Hymenoptera") differ from other insects by having two pairs of wings that are linked by a row of hooks, and by having a narrow "waist" that joins the abdomen to the thorax. The first segment of the abdomen is fused to the back of the thorax, so the part behind is not the whole abdomen — it is more strictly called the "gaster".

Social wasps can be distinguished from the rest of the Hymenoptera by:

Fore-wings folded back The way they fold their fore- wings back when they are at rest.
Patterned wing By the pattern of veins on their wings.
Kidney-shaped compound eyes By having kidney-shaped compound eyes.
Worker and queen Worker wasps and queens look similar, although the queen is much larger. Both have a sting.
Drone Drones do not have a sting, have more segments on the gaster, and have long curved antennae.

In New Zealand, German and common wasps are readily identified because there are very few other insect species which look similar. They could be confused with: