The Big Wasp Survey

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We know surprisingly little about social wasps. The Big Wasp Survey harnesses the public’s dislike of social wasps, to get their help in sampling wasp populations across the UK. These data help answer questions about the distribution and abundance of social wasps across the UK.

We may hate wasps but they’re useful predators, controlling garden pests and pollinating flowers. We know bees are threatened by anthropogenic impact; but what about wasps?  Wasps are likely to be equally affected by chemicals and land-use change. The Big Wasp Survey uses beer and UK citizens to find out more about these important, but much maligned, insects.

The Big Wasp Survey is the first of its kind in the UK. We ask members of the public to recycle an old plastic bottle and use a little beer to make a wasp trap for their back garden. After a week, once the wasps are trapped, you simply identify them using resources that we provide, and enter the results.

Very little is known about the abundance and diversity of wasps in the UK and it’s hoped this survey will give scientists valuable information.

What are you waiting for? Upcycle your water bottle, share a beer with it, and hang it in your garden!

The project is in collaboration with Prof Adam Hart (Univ. Gloucestershire), in conjunction with BBC’s Countryfile and sponsored by the Royal Entomological Society.

We rely on volunteers to help with the sampling and sorting for BWS! If you’re interested in volunteering with us on the BWS, contact Seirian.

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BWS summer team 2019

Publications from the Big Wasp Survey:

Sumner, S., Bevan, P., Hart, A.G. and Isaac, N.J.B. (2019), Mapping species distributions in 2 weeks using citizen science. Insect Conserv Divers, 12: 382-388.

Perry, J.R., Sumner, S., Thompson, C. and Hart, A.G. (2021), ‘Citizen identification’: online learning supports highly accurate species identification for insect-focussed citizen science. Insect Conserv Divers, 14: 862-867.

Cunningham-Eurich, I., Kontou, D., Yordanova, M., Maeda-Obregon, A., Favreau, E., Wang, J. et al. (2023) Using citizen science data to assess the population genetic structure of the common yellowjacket wasp, Vespula vulgarisInsect Molecular Biology, 32(6), 634–647. Available from:

Download our flyer and our full report.

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