Dolichovespula borealis LEE 1986, preocc.; Dolichovespula conjugens PAUL 1943; Vespa crassa HERRICH-SCHÄFFER 1841; Vespa flavicincta SCHENCK 1853; Vespa geerii LEPELETIER 1836; Vespa lineolata PÉREZ 1910; Vespa rufoscutellata SCHENCK 1853; Vespa similis SCHENCK 1853; Dolichovespula sugare ISHIKAWA 1969
The 'median wasp' is a very large social species, most individuals being second only to the hornet, Vespa crabro, in size. Queens of D. media also resemble V. crabro in their mainly yellowish-orange coloration. The gasters of many workers are very dark, with narrow yellow bands. Most colonies are rather docile; others seem to be very aggressive, attacking with little provocation (Welch & Irwin, 1995).
When recording began, Britain was host to seven species of social wasps. However, in the 1980s a further two species colonised the country: Dolichovespula media and D. saxonica. The first record of D. media in England was a male collected in Friston Forest, East Sussex, by S J Falk in August 1980 (Falk 1982). Five years later, an occupied nest was discovered near Robertsbridge, also in East Sussex. In 1987 a second nest was reported from near Canterbury, East Kent and, since then, the species' range has rapidly increased. By the end of the 1995 season the wasp had been reliably recorded from numerous sites from Kent to Cornwall, northwards to north Wales, Cumbria (Borrowdale in the Lake District) and Durham (Darlington) (Else, 1989, 1992a, 1993b, 1994a).