There have been two names applied to this species which is possibly an intermittent resident in Britain: Polistes dominula and P. gallicus. Confusingly, the true P. gallicus (Linnaeus) has also been found in Britain, but only as a vagrant. The best characterised instance of a reproductive and long-term colony was one found by the author in the roof of the Orangery at Ham House, Petersham, Surrey. Here there were many nests under the tiles and this situation persisted at least between 2003 and 2010; they may still be there. A number of other records may well relate to reproductive colonies, these are mostly in the Thames Corridor (Baldock & Dvořák, 2009), whilst other records are clearly casuals with imported fruit or vegetables.
Whilst vagrants carried in with vegetables or fruit may turn up anywhere, confirmed records of breeding populations are largely confined to the Thames Corridor in south-eastern England.
It is widely distributed in southern and central Europe.