AppearanceAdult workers of ''Vespula vulgaris '' measure about 12–17 mm from head to abdomen, and have a mass of 84.1±19.0 mg, whereas the queen is about 20 mm long.
It has aposematic colors of black and yellow; yellow pro-notal bands which are almost parallel to each other and black dots and rings on its abdomen.
The ''Vespula vulgaris'' queens and females appear very similar to the German wasps except when they are seen head on, the ''Vespula vulgaris'' face lacks the three black dots of ''Vespula germanica''. Instead, each has only one black mark on its clypeus which is usually anchor-shaped or dagger-shaped. However, sometimes the identification of this species might be difficult because this black mark on its clypeus can sometimes appear broken, making it again, look extremely similar to ''Vespula germanica''.
Even more difficult to distinguish between species are the males. There are very few distinctions between the male ''Vespula vulgaris'' and ''Vespula germanica''. Almost undetectable by naked eye, the only confident identification of ''Vespula vulgaris'' males would be to investigate their genitalia. They have distinct aedeagus tip shapes and lateral processes.
Distribution''Vespula vulgaris'' is a Palearctic species. It was discovered in a wide range of countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, India, and China; it is invasive in New Zealand and Australia. Until 2010 it was thought to be in North America as well, but molecular and morphological data showed that specimens identified as ''V. vulgaris'' in North America were a separate species, ''Vespula alascensis''.
The species ''Vespula vulgaris'' has high adaptation skills regarding environments. Therefore, it is well off in most types of habitats, including the prairies, grassland, natural and planted forests, shrub lands and even in urban zones such as gardens, orchards and buildings. However, it does require the temperature to be moderately warm because its foraging activity is temperature dependent .
StatusAlong with the German wasp and two species of ''Polistes'', the common wasp is considered a pest species in New Zealand, as it competes with endemic species for food, such as insects and honeydew. In some South Island beech forests it is thought that densities of wasps are higher than anywhere else in the world. It is calculated that the total weight of common wasps in these places may exceed that of all birds.
Research indicates the wasps use odor to identify and attack rival wasps from other colonies, and nest odor frequently changes. ''V. vulgaris'' wasps have been observed aggressively competing with honey bees for the honeydew secreted by the scale insect ''Ultracoelostoma brittini'' in New Zealand's South Island black beech forests.
BehaviorOnly the wasps leaving the nest notice a disturbance and defend or fight off an intruder. The ones returning to the nest do not detect any disturbance and try to enter the nest.
The workers that detect danger show a certain gesture – they rise onto the tips of their tarsi, put forward their heads, turn down their abdomens and constantly vibrate their wings in high frequencies and short beats. This behavior signals other workers to fly to the entrance of the nest and defend.
However, if the nest is disturbed enough times, the workers stop defending the nest and instead grow tolerant to such attacks. However, when they detect life-threatening level of danger, the ''Vespula vulgaris'' workers will vigorously defend their nest. Unlike bees which die after stinging, ''Vespula vulgaris'' can sting multiple times. This makes its sting viable for personal defense when away from the colony, and the common wasp is therefore more apt to sting. However, it will usually not sting without being provoked by sudden movement or other violent behavior.
Research indicates the wasps use odor to identify and attack rival wasps from other colonies, and nest odor frequently changes. ''Vespula vulgaris'' wasps have been observed aggressively competing with honey bees for the honeydew secreted by the scale insect ''Ultracoelostoma brittini'' in New Zealand's South Island black beech forests.
After mating, the queen overwinters in a hole or other sheltered location, sometimes in buildings. Wasp nests are not reused from one year to the next, but in rare instances wasps have been seen to re-nest in the footprint of a removed nest or even begin building a new nest within an old nest. In the mild climate of New Zealand and Australia, a few of the colonies may survive the winter, although this is much more common with the German wasp.
FoodSimilarly to other ''Vespulas'', ''Vespula vulgaris'' feed on animal preys such as caterpillars to feed their developing larvae and carbohydrates, such as nectar and sweet fruits, to satisfy their own energy requirements. Their usual food sources are: wood pulp, freshly killed insects such as Hymenoptera, lepidopteran larvae and Diptera and Spiders. Common wasps will also attempt to invade honey bees' nests to steal their honey.
Although the types of prey ''Vespula vulgaris'' and ''Vespula germanica'' forage are almost the same, that of ''Vespula germanica'' are generally 2–3.5 times bigger and heavier than that of ''Vespula vulgaris''. This is mainly due to the size difference of the two species. Because the ''Vespula germanica'' foragers are bigger in morphology than those of ''Vespula vulgaris'', and they both transport the prey by carrying on them, it would be advantageous for the wasp to be bigger to be able to hold larger prey.
Through a laboratory experiment, it was discovered that the quality of the food ''Vespula vulgaris'' consumes directly affects its body temperature. The higher the quality of the prey, measured by the amount of sucrose present in the food, the higher thorax temperature it had. Such high thorax temperature indicates the wasp's excitement and motivation to collect the offered food. The wasps will want to absorb as much energy as possible because the output of the energy directly coordinates to the power of flight muscles. Higher thorax temperature therefore means more power in thoracic flight muscles, leading to faster movement and in overall, more foraging.
Predators''Vespula vulgaris'' are subject to predation by the honey buzzard, which excavates the nests to obtain the larvae. The hoverfly ''Volucella pellucens'' and some of its relatives lay their eggs in a wasp nest, and their larvae feed on the wasps’ young and dead adults. Spiders are yet another predator of this and many other species. A species of parasitic mite, ''Varroa destructor jacobsoni'', was found on larvae of this species in Poland in 1988.
Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.