I think I have the genus, but is the species id possible? Sorry there's no photo of the face.
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Thanks for the id.
So I can't even get the genus right! Please could you tell me how you distinguish these two genera?
The clearest way to tell Vespula from Dolichovespula is to look at the distance from the bottom of the eye to the mandible (jaw) - in Vespula they are nearly touching, in Dolichovespula there is an appreciable gap. However, this can't be seen from your photos, so I suspect Matt was just going on the general appearance, based on his extensive knowledge of the group.
Based on the pattern of yellow and black above the antennae, and on the abdomen, it looks to me like the Common Wasp Vespula vulgaris, and I'm not sure what other possibilities Matt had in mind when he put it down as Vespula sp.
Entomologist and biological recorder
Thanks for the explanation.
I thought, at about 25mm in length, it was too large to be a common wasp, but all of these insect families are new to me and I've a lot to learn.
All the social wasps come in three sizes - the queens (which are the largest), the workers (which are the smallest) and the males (which are somewhere in-between). At this time of year it is usually only the queens that can be seen, they haven't yet produced the first brood of workers.
There are some differences in sizes between the species as well, but a queen Common Wasp is a fairly large insect!
There's quite a lot of information on wasp life-cycles on the web, some of it more accurate than others!, but for instance see this from Keele University:
Lat/Lng: 51.7, -2.6
OS grid ref: SO6302