What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Bee or wasp?
Geographic location of the bug:  Andalusia, Spain
Date: 10/22/2018
Time: 12:35 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
Are these bees or wasps? where feeding on bottle brush. They where not small, much bigger than paper wasp, but they looked much more wasp like than a bee.
Malaga province,  Spain,  October 22, 2018
Thanks in advance
How you want your letter signed:  Perry

Vespid Wasp:  Vespa bicolor

Dear Perry,
This is definitely a Wasp and not a Bee.  It looks to us like one of the Paper Wasps in the genus
Polistes, but we have not found any images from Spain on the internet that resemble your individual.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to substantiate or provide a correction.

Vespid Wasp:  Vespa bicolor

Correction:  December 29, 2018
Thanks to comments from several of our readers, though the species is still not identified, we now know that this is one of the Hornets or Yellowjackets in the subfamily Vespinae.

Update Regarding Permission to use images:  February 28, 2019
Dear Mr Marlos,
Thank you very much indeed for the pictures and the information on the terms of use!!  The main reasons I’m interested in using one of these images in my paper are that they show the species close-up and in great detail and that what you see is the living wasp going about its business, as opposed to any photographs of preserved, pinned specimens I could have contributed using my own material. Now let’s hope “Perry” does provide information on the locality where he took the photographs: it’s likely to lie inside the wasp’s known Spanish range, but, who knows, it might be a new locality/area, and that would increase our knowledge of the subject.
Best wishes,
Leopoldo Castro.

You are most welcome Leopoldo.  The submitted letter indicates the images were taken in “Malaga province,  Spain,  October 22, 2018.”

Dear Mr Marlos
My little investigation has born fruit, and here’s the “happy ending”.
On Friday I spent some time surfing the ‘net, with unexpectedly good results: first I found out what the photographer’s full name was, then I got hold of his email and finally I was able to contact him. He has kindly provided the exact locality (Mijas), as well as some other relevant details. This part of the puzzle is now complete, and I can move on to the next phase, thanks to your help and his.
Best wishes,
Leopoldo Castro.

Congratulations on your diligence Leopoldo.  I began What’s That Bug? in 1998 as a column in a zine called American Homebody that eventually became a website when the zine editor, and a collaborative artist on other projects I did, decided she wanted to learn web design, so What’s That Bug? became an online column on a website.  When Lisa Anne suggested I purchase the domain name in 2002 because my column generated more mail than the rest of the website combined.  I have been answering inquiries for 17 years, and I no entomological credentials, nor any science background.  I am an artist, so it gives me great satisfaction each time I am contacted because of the important sightings documented in our extensive database.  I’m so happy I was able to facilitate your research.

Dear Mr Marlos,
After a very short editorial process, I’ve had the paper on Vespa bicolor published by an entomological journal, and you can find it attached. As you’ll see, your valuable help is duly acknowledged at the end of the article (sorry that it’s in Spanish… the paper’s mostly aimed at Spain’s scientific community) (but’s it’s got a lot of international hits in the seven days it’s been available on the ‘net).
Best wishes,
Leopoldo Castro.
2019 Castro =V. bicolor[CAS19A]

Hi again Leopoldo,
Congratulations on your quick completion of your paper.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Andalusia, Spain

10 Responses to Vespid Wasp from Spain is Vespa bicolor

  1. It isn’t Polistes. Looks a lot like Vespa bicolor, but it seems not likely in Spain.

  2. This is a member of Vespinae, not Polistinae, as shown by the shape of the metasoma (polistines have a more slender, elongate waist than vespines).

  3. NeilR says:

    I photographed a similar wasp at Mijas, Andalucia, Spain on 22 Dec 2018.

    • bugman says:

      Though we still have not identified the species, we now know that this is one of the social Wasps in the subfamily Vespinae, the Hornets and Yellowjackets.

  4. Discoelius says:

    The wasp is in fact Vespa bicolor, and I’m considering the possibility of publishing a note on the find in an entomological paper. I have two questions for “Perry”:
    – What’s the town where he took the photograph? (the map is totally wrong, with the “A” arrow entirely outside the boundaries of the province where the wasp was found.
    – Could I use one of his two photographs to illustrate my paper?

  5. Waspfan says:


    Perry’s wasp is in fact Vespa bicolor, and I’m considering the possibility of publishing a note on the find in an entomological journal, along with other finds of the same species. I have three questions for “Perry”:
    (La avispa sí que es Vespa bicolor, y estoy pensando en publicar una nota sobre el hallazgo en una revista entomológica, junto con otras citas de la misma especie. Tengo tres preguntas para “Perry”…)
    – What’s the town where he took the photograph? (I can’t guess from the map, which is totally wrong, with the “A” arrow entirely outside the boundaries of the province where the wasp was found).
    (¿En qué población se tomó la foto? [No se puede deducir del mapa.])
    – Could I use one of his two photographs to illustrate my paper, and if so by what name would he like to be cited as the photograph’s author? “Perry” would do, but his real name would be better.
    (¿Podría usar una de las dos fotos para ilustrar mi artículo? En caso afirmativo, puedo citar el autor de la foto como “Perry”, pero sería preferible el nombre real.)

    If he wouldn’t like to give his real name online, can Bugman pass my email address to “Perry” so that he could, if he so chose, communicate with me directly?


    • bugman says:

      Thanks for this confirmation.
      We will attempt to pass your comment on to Perry.

    • bugman says:

      What’s that Bug frequently provides images for scientific papers. Our submission form includes the statement “By submitting an identification request and/or photo(s), you give WhatsThatBug.com permission to use your words and image(s) on their website and other WhatsThatBug.com publications.” We will email the higher resolution images, and unless Perry comments otherwise, the image should be credited to Perry as the photographer, and courtesy of https://www.whatsthatbug.com

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