The Big Wasp Survey – Your Annual Garden Wasp Watch

Wasp-love sweeps the nation year-after-year!  Thank you, citizen scientists of the UK!

2024 marks the eight year of Big Wasp Survey! Thank you to all the wonderful citizen who’ve been busy collecting, identifying and submitting wasp data! The benefits of this important dataset grow by the year, and we are busy squeezing the science out!

Some recent highlights:

  • DNA analyses of Big Wasp Survey samples reveal one big population of the common yellow jacket wasp, Vespula vulgaris, across the UK! You can read the full paper here – it’s free to download!
  • A talk about BWS from our cofounder Seirian Sumner is free to watch here, courtesy of EntoLive!



The Science Behind The Big Wasp Survey

In a nutshell, we want to find out more about social wasps!

With your help, we aim to find more about which species live where. We hope to use the data you help us to collect this year, and in future years, to find out what factors are affecting wasp populations.

We may also be able to use the wasps you collect to find our more about how individual wasps of the same species differ across the country.

More About the Project

Wasps are ecologically essential insects. Both predators and pollinators, the social wasps (those yellow and black insects that bother us at picnics) live fascinating social lives and are much undervalued, even despised. However, just like their more glamourous cousin the honeybee, wasps are suffering as we change habitats and spray insecticides.

The Big Wasp Survey aims to gather important scientific data to help to quantify wasp species abundance, diversity and distribution.

The Team

Professor Seirian Sumner

University College London

Professor of Behavioural Ecology, University College London.

Seirian Sumner is an evolutionary biologist who is interested in understanding how and why animals behave. Her research focuses on social insects – ants, bees and wasps (well, mostly wasps actually!). She combines welly-boot field ecology with molecular analyses to reveal a genes-to-behaviour understanding of social behaviour, ecology and evolution. Currently she’s spending a lot of time sequencing wasp genomes, including the first  genome sequence for an aculeate wasp.

She is on a crusade to persuade the public and science communities that we should appreciate, rather than hate, social wasps, and how wasps perform important ecosystem services.

The Big Wasp Survey is her first foray into citizen science!

The Sumner Lab Website

Cris Thompson (not a professor)

Cris is a lifelong advocate of science, a website guy, and all-round digital master; web applications, 3dprinting, game design. Cris works for Octophin Digital who specialise in making websites and apps for the conservation and arts sectors.

He met Seirian and Adam in the rainforest and made this website with WordPress.

Fluster Design


Professor Adam Hart

Professor of Science Communication, University of Gloucestershire

Adam Hart is an entomologist, broadcaster and writer who combines his interests in research and teaching with a passion for communicating science. He has been involved in a number of citizen science projects including the Flying Ant Survey, a house spider survey and a survey looking at what causes starling murmurations.

Adam’s Wikipedia Page

University of Gloucestershire

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