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Vespula germanica (Fabricius) German wasp; German Yellowjacket


(Life: Kingdom: Metazoa (animals); Phylum: Arthropoda; Class: Hexapoda; Order: Hymenoptera; Superfamily: Vespoidea; Family: Vespidae; Subfamily: Vespinae; Genus: Vespula)

Vespula germanica (Fabricius,1793)

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This nest, the size of a football, was constructed within a room that has a permanently open door to the exterior on Dwarsriviershoek farm in Banghoek Valley near Stellenbosch. The nest was secured to the ceiling and hung like a lantern in the corner of the room. A second nest was constructed directly below this one on the floor, among loose crates and wood planks (the above images are of wasps from this second nest). Photographs Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).

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Photographs Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).
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Vespula_germanica_Nico_Laubscher_20120221nfl3957 Vespula germanica foraging from a sucrose sunbird feeder in Nico Laubscher's Stellenbosch garden (Photographs Nico Laubscher).

Photographs Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).


Indigenous to the Palaearctic region. Introduced into South Africa (Western Cape) in 1975 and has the potential to spread through much of the winter rainfall areas of South Africa. Also introduced to other parts of the world including Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, USA.


Social, constructing concealed communal paper nests often under the ground. Larvae are fed on chewed-up, soft-bodied insects such as caterpillars. Can be a pest and incidental threat to picnickers as they are protein scavengers, attracted to sugary substances and sting readily if disturbed. Has potential impact on local ecosystems through prey competition; the honey industry as they hunt bees; and on wine and fruit industry through fruit feeding damage and subsequent secondary fungal infection. Control: Destruction of nests.


Wasp reporting tool for Cape Town invasive wasps. Log your sighting to streamline the booking process for a control team.


Haupt K, Addison P, Veldtman R. 2019. Fresh meat baits are currently the only available effective option to detect low-density Vespula germanica (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) populations in South Africa. Austral Entomology 58: 783-791. https://doi.org/10.1111/aen.12393

Tribe, G.D. & Richardson, D.M. 1994. The European wasp, Vespula germanica (Fabricius) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in southern Africa and its potential distribution as predicted by ecoclimatic matching. African Entomology 2: 1-6.

van Noort, S. & Picker, M. 2011. Wasps, Bees, Ants. Class Insecta, Order Hymenoptera. Pp 140-146. In:  Picker, M. & Griffiths, C. (eds.) Alien & Invasive Animals. A South African perspective. Struik Nature.

van Zyl C, Addison P, Veldtman R. 2018. The invasive Vespidae in South Africa: potential management strategies and current status. African Entomology 26: 267-285. http://dx.doi.org/10.4001/003.026.0267

Whitehead, V.B. & Prins, A.J. 1975. The European wasp, Vespula germanica (F.), in the Cape Peninsula. Journal of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa 38: 3942.


Photographs Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa) unless otherwise indicated. Many thanks to Derric and Nicholas Wilson for alerting me to the presence of these nests and allowing access to their farm office for photography of the nest and its inhabitants. The nest is now at Iziko South African Museum, where it forms part of an exhibition on this alien invasive wasp.

Web author Simon van Noort (Iziko South African Museum)


Citation: van Noort, S. 2023. WaspWeb: Hymenoptera of the Afrotropical region. URL: www.waspweb.org (accessed on <day/month/year>).

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