Species: V. vulgaris
Binomial name: Vespula vulgaris (Linnaeus, 1758)
Vespa vulgaris Linnaeus, 1758 Vespa sexcincta Panzer, 1799 Vespa westwoodii Shipp, 1893 Vespa westwoodi Dalla Torre, 1904 (Lapsus) Vespa vulgaris var. pseudogermanica Stolfa, 1932 Vespula vulgaris vetus Eck, 1999 Paravespula vulgaris (Linnaeus. 1758)
Vespula vulgaris, known as the common wasp, is a wasp found in various regions of the world including the United Kingdom, Germany, India, China, New Zealand, and Australia. It is sometimes known as the European wasp; the same name is used for the species Vespula germanica, which is also known as the German wasp. Another name for Vespula vulgaris is the "common yellow-jacket". It was discovered in 2010 that wasps in North America thought to be Vespula vulgaris are actually a different species, Vespula alascensis.
Vespula vulgaris is a eusocial vespid that builds its grey paper nest in or on a structure capable of supporting it. A founding queen searches for a hollow tree, wall cavity, rock crevice or even a mammal-made hole to build a nest. One colony cycle lasts for approximately 6–11 months and each colony cycle consists of around 3000–8000 larvae.
The extraordinary adaptation skills of Vespula vulgaris enable it to live in a wide range of habitats, from very humid areas to artificial environments such as gardens and human structures. This species, along with other wasp species such as Vespula germanica, has impacted the ecosystem, especially those in New Zealand and Australia, where they were imported by humans, and frequently cause damage to fruit crops and endanger humans
The golden toad's main habitat was on a cold, wet ridge called Brillante. They would emerge in late March through April to mate for the first few weeks in rainwater pools amongst tree roots, where they also laid their eggs. 1500 golden toads were reported to breed at the site since 1972. The last documented breeding episode occurred from April–May 1987.
For a few weeks in April, after the dry season ended and the forest became wetter, males would gather in large numbers near ground puddles and wait for the females. Golden toads were found to breed explosively when it rained heavily from March to June. Males would clasp onto any other individuals encountered and only then identify the partner's gender. As soon as a male found a female golden toad, he would engage in amplexus with the female until she laid spawned. The males would fight with each other for opportunities to mate until the end of their short mating season, after which the toads retreated to their burrows.
Males outnumbered females, in some years by as many as ten to one, a situation that often led bachelors to attack amplectant pairs and form what has been described as a "writhing masses of toad balls". During the 1977 and 1982 seasons, males outnumbered females by over 8 to 1 at breeding pools. Each toad couple produced 200–400 eggs each week for the six-week mating period, with each egg approximately 3 mm in diameter. The eggs of the golden toad, black and tan spheres, were deposited in small pools often no more than one-inch deep. Tadpoles emerged in a matter of days but required another four or five weeks for metamorphosis. During this period, they were highly dependent on the weather. Too much rain and they would be washed down the steep hillsides; too little and their puddles would dry up.
In 1987, an American ecologist and herpetologist, Martha Crump, recorded the golden toad's mating rituals. In her book, In Search of the Golden Frog, she described it as "one of the most incredible sights I've ever seen", and said they looked like "statues, dazzling jewels on the forest floor". On April 15, 1987, Crump recorded in her field diary that she counted 133 toads mating in one "kitchen sink-sized pool" that she was observing. Five days later, she witnessed the pools in the area drying, which she attributed to the effects of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, "leaving behind desiccated eggs already covered in mold". The toads attempted to mate again that May. Of the 43,500 eggs that Crump found, only twenty-nine tadpoles survived the drying of the forest's ground.