Wednesday, 17 August 2016
This handsome beast is a male wasp, something not often seen. He is easily identified from his enormous antennae and his long abdomen which has seven segments (compared with the female's six). I presume the antennae help to locate the females by scent.
You will have realised by now that I am a fearless superhero but the truth is that male wasps don't sting. Here are a couple of photos in a more natural setting.
We can tell from his face that this is a male common wasp (Vespula vulgaris).
Queen wasps are a familiar sight in the spring as they forage and chew wood before starting a new colony. And worker wasps are very common, especially in early autumn as the colonies break up and the redundant workers go on the rampage, terrorising picnics and beehives. This chart from BWARS compares the appearance of the three castes of Vespula vulgaris.
Late in the life of the social wasp colony the queen starts laying eggs that will produce males and new queens. After mating the queens go off to hibernate until next spring while the males and the workers all die off. The males spend their short lives flying, drinking nectar, and chasing females. Sounds like a pretty good way to make a living.