T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Wasp (German) Vespula germanica

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Scientific name: Vespula germanica
Common name: German wasp, Pi Waikato is the Maori name They named it after the striped colours of the Waikato rugby jersey.

The widespread German wasps live in large colonies, about the size of a soccer ball, but which can become huge if they manage to survive over winter.  The German wasp was introduced to New Zealand with United States aeroplane parts in the 1940s and is now widespread. This wasp is very similar in appearance to the common wasp, and both have the characteristic black and yellow colouration but the German wasp has black dots along its body. German wasp nests are grey. Common wasp nests are brown. It feeds on meat, many other insects, sweet foods and competes with native birds for nectar, fruit and honeydew. It can sting.

Wasps have often featured in poetry. This is the first internet copy of Plain Murder written by A.G. Prys-Jones (1888 – 1987) sometime before 1959. It seems to refer to the squashing of a wasp before it can sting the author. It was published in “Yet More Comic and Curious Verse” selected by J. H. Cohen (1959).

I saw a wasp upon a wall
And did not like his face at all:
And so the creature had no time
To wonder whether he liked mine.

Department of Conservation.Wasp factsheet 

Photos showing body markings on wasp species
In spring when the days start to warm up the queen wasps come out from hibernation where they have spent the winter months in a deep sleep. In winter and spring, there are no active wasp nests. On awakening, the queens will begin to look for a suitable place to build their new nests.
The photo below is of a hibernating queen found under a loose piece of pine bark. The hibernating queen wasps protect their wings and antennae by tucking them under their bodies. Wings are vital for obvious reasons but the antennae are equally important to a queen wasp as she uses these to probe and detect the cells in the nest before laying eggs.

German wasps feeding on weeping tree sap.

A hibernating queen.under some tree bark

Three queen wasps hibernating in a crack in a pine log.  Only sexually mated queens overwinter by hibernating in crevices and sheltered places. They protect their wings and antennae by tucking them under their bodies.

Two queens together hibernating.

A hibernating queen.

Vespula germanica feeding on ripe apples. These wasps cause damage to ripening crops.

A German wasp on a fennel flower

The business end: note the sting is smooth, not barbed so it is not left behind.

Entrance to a German wasps nest

Topsoil removed and the top layer of nest lifted back. 

Photo of the centre of the nest removed showing internal levels. These levels are held apart by pillars. (see one on top level) For more details of a wasp nest visit  http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/science/plants-animals-fungi/animals/invertebrates/invasive-invertebrates/wasps/ife-history/nest-expansion

Photo showing the structure of the external wall of the nest (Centre of the nest removed)

Photo showing the inside of the nest layer. Note pillar support

The queen,  workers and larvae in their cells

A young wasp emerging from its cell

The same wasp as above just about out

Head of the Queen wasp 

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/