Common Wasp in UK: Is this a Queen???

Large wasps in my kitchen in November!
Location: Leeds, UK
November 15, 2011 6:29 pm
Hi there, I’ve had 2 big wasps appear from nowhere in the past 2 days. They’re pretty dozy and can be caught easily. We also had about 4 in a row in 4 days in October. It wouldn’t be weird apart from the fact that it’s November and very cold now and they shouldn’t still be around. Could they be queens looking for a place to go? Our house has a lot of gaps in it so they could be crawling in from outside but it’s strange that there have been so many and the all seem to look bigger than the average wasp. Thanks.
Signature: Kate

Common Wasp

Hi Kate,
We believe we have correctly identified your wasp as
Vespula vulgaris, known as the Common Wasp in the UK, though in America the members of this genus are commonly called Yellowjackets.  We think your theory that they may be queens trying to find a place to hibernate is a strong possibility.  We are trying to find a reliable source for determining how to distinguish a queen from a worker, but our web searching has drawn a blank.  Perhaps one of our readers can supply that information.  There are some very fine photos and some good information on the Social Wasps website.

Common Wasp

I suspect that the “queens seeking winter shelter” theory is probably correct.  Workers do not persist past the first hard frost or two.

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