The median wasp is a relative newcomer to the UK and has typical wasp colouring of black and yellow stripes. It has four dots along its abdomen of a reddish colour. Queens are more reddish in appearance and as such are often mistaken for hornets. It is considered a large wasp with some calling it the ‘super wasp’ due to its size – averaging around 20mm in length.
The median wasp is common between May and October but in good weather has been noted as late as November. Grey papery nests initiated by a single queen hang from trees and shrubs and structures such as building eaves and guttering and can reach the size of a football. The nest can typically have 800 inhabitants.
Contrary to popular belief the median wasp is not particularly aggressive and would prefer to fly away rather than attack, but similar to most other wasps, it will sting if it or its nest is in any perceived danger.
It has a prominent stinger and it very quick and aggressive when it does attack. The most common cause of an attack is due to gardeners disturbing an unseen nest with the vibration of a mower or strimmer or by knocking a nest.
If you are near a nest try to remain calm and not flap around and certainly try not to make contact with them.