Vespula spp. European Allergen Datasheet

Scientific name: Vespula spp European

Common name: Common wasp (V.vulgaris) and German or European wasp (V.germanica)

Family: Vespidae


The two species of wasps, Common and German, originated in Europe, although they are now well-established in North America, South America and New Zealand.

The German wasp has a body length between 2.2 and 2.5 cm and yellow and black coloring. This wasp is widespread and is also active on very chilly days. During August and September, they can frequently be seen on sugar and protein sources also deriving from human activity (such as ripening fruit, trash, meat and fish, etc.). Wasps build their nests with an external envelope, usually gray in color, in the soil or in sheltered areas near buildings. The colonies are very large (thousands of adults during the period of maximum growth).

The Vespula vulgaris has a body length between 1 and 2 cm and yellow and black coloring. They build underground nests, smaller than those of the Vespula germanica, but sometimes they build nests hanging from tree branches, inside mailboxes or under overturned flower pots. Colonies can contain between 1,000 and 2,000 individuals. These wasps can become dangerous if disturbed.

Distribution: Throughout Italy.

Period of exposure to allergens: From March to September/October.

Allergy testing: Allergic reactions to vespid venom can be severe enough to cause anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal.

Recent studies have confirmed that the European and American species belong to different subgenera and that they are phylogenetically distant. Cross-reactivity between allergens of European and American species of Polistes is only partial. Therefore, in Europe, it is essential to use venom from the European species for the preparation of the active substance to obtain an immunological response that can safely protect the patient in the case of a subsequent sting.

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