Pest controllers – we need your wasps!

If you would like to help support our research into the ecological and economic value of wasps, we would love to hear from you.

You can read about the natural history of wasps and why we should value them here.

These sampling instructions are intended for people who are collecting/removing Vespid nests (e.g. any species of Vespula or Vespa) in the UK.

You will need:

25ml or 50ml falcon tubes (2 per nest)

ziplock bags (1 per nest)

99% ethanol


pencil & paper


  • Fill falcon tubes to the top with ethanol– don’t be tempted to only half fill – it’s important that samples are fully immersed.
  • Collect larvae into ethanol. Locate the larger larvae (see fig 1).
Larvae can be see in uncapped cells.

Fig 1: Larvae can be see in uncapped cells.

Using forceps, grab the head of the larva, and pull gently. Pop the larva straight into the falcon tube. Fill two falcon tubes per nest with larvae if possible (fig 2). It’s important that the larvae are still alive when you put them in the alcohol, to ensure their DNA is not degraded. Larvae can be kept alive in combs for a couple of days after collection, but it is best to transfer them to alcohol as soon as possible after collecting the nest. This can also be done in the field, at the time of collection.

Fig 2: Larvae stored in 99% ethanol for DNA analysis.

Fig 2: Larvae stored in 99% ethanol for DNA analysis.

  • Collect 5-10 adults into ethanol too (fig 3).

    Fig 3: Store adults (queen if possible, and workers) for identification

    Fig 3: Store adults (queen if possible, and workers) for identification

  • Put all tubes into a ziplock back: use one ziplock per nest.
  • Write the following information on piece of paper, IN PENCIL (pen will wash off if the alcohol leaks), and pop it in the ziplock bag (1 label per nest)
    1. Species
    2. Location collected (as accurate as possible)
    3. Habitat – a few notes about whether it was a house in an urban environment, nest in the ground in a park/forest. The more information you can give, then more useful the samples will be.
    4. Your name and contact details

You will be notified of, and credited on, any publications/reports resulting from the samples you provide. Thank you very much for you help.


Any questions, contact me:

Dr Seirian Sumner

Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research

University College London

Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT




Fig 1 – Locate larvae – here they are the centre of the comb


Fig 2 – Fill falcon tubes with larvae, in 99% ethanol.



Fig 3 – Store 5-10 adults in with the brood: include the queen if possible, but otherwise workers are fine.