Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Hymenoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Wasps, Hornet.

Adults medium sized to large; 12–20 mm long. Social insects forming organized communities (melliferous); the adult populations including specialised, sterile females constituting ‘workers’.

Head. Eyes emarginate. Antennal segments (10–)12 (females), or (10–)13 (males). Antennae geniculate, or not geniculate. The mandibles short and stout, meeting more or less on the mid-line.

Thorax. Thorax black and yellow or brown and yellow. Pronotum deeply indented or emarginate at the back; long, extending back to the tegulae. Cenchri absent. Wings present; folded longitudinally when at rest. Fore-wings with a conspicuous pterostigma (?), or without a pterostigma; with the venation well developed. Closed fore-wing cells 6–10. Submarginal cells 3. Hind-wings with closed cells. Mid tibiae with two spurs. Hind femur without a well defined trochantellus. Hind tibiae with spurs specialised for a cleaning rôle.

Abdomen. The abdomen with a marked basal constriction; long petiolate to short-waisted. The ‘waist’ simple. Visible abdominal segments 6 (females), or 7 (males). The gaster colour-patterned; black- or brown-and-yellow. Ovipositor of females not visibly protruding; modified as a retractable sting.

Larvae. Larvae legless or the legs vestigial; feeding on prey collected and stored by the adults.

British representation. Species in Britain 9; Dolichovespula, Polistes, Vespa and Vespula.

Classification. Suborder Apocrita; Series Aculeata; Superfamily Vespoidea.

Illustrations. • Vespula rufa (Anchor-faced Wasp): B. Ent. 760. • Vespula rufa: B. Ent. 760, legend+text. • Vespula rufa: B. Ent. 760, text cont.. • Vespa crabro (Hornet): G. Watson, photo. • Vespa crabro, Vespula spp., Dolichovespula norwegica (Hornet, Wasps: Saunders XX).

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Hymenoptera. Version: 16th May 2016.’.