Animals Invasives

Vespula germanica

Vespula germanicaGerman Wasp/Yellow Jacket Wasp

Common Name 
German Wasp/Yellow Jacket Wasp
Legal Status 
Target Species

Medium sized wasp (15-40mm) with yellow and black markings on abdomen and black antennae. The nests are papery and are normally built underground, however in urban settings they do sometimes produce the paper ball-like nests above ground under ceilings or inside wall cavities. This wasp is aggressive, especially if the nest or surrounding areas are disturbed. Nests should not be removed by public as protective equipment is essential.


Photograph © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa)
Photograph © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa)
Photograph © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa)
Photographs © Nico Laubscher
Where does this species come from? 
The German wasp, Vespula germanica, is a vespid wasp native to Europe, Northern Africa and temperate Asia.
Why is it a problem? 
In urban areas the German wasp has the potential to become a serious pest and annoyance to humans in it reaches high densities as it will sting people if its foraging is disturbed. Vespula spp. are pests of stone fruit and grape cultures and have the potential to economically disadvantage sectors dependent on these primary production crops (they are also enemies to the honey industry as they hunt and kill honeybees). In terms of natural ecosystems Vespula spp. may potentially have a disruptive impact on a variety of ecosystem processes. The most obvious effect would be on native arthropod species on which the German wasp directly preys on.
Means of reproduction? 
A colony consists of a queen and up to several thousand sterile workers when the nest is fully mature. In the fall the queen stops laying worker eggs, and lays queen eggs and male (drone) eggs and the nest begins to decline. The new queens mate (with drones from other nests) and then only the queens overwinter, to form a new nest the following spring.