It is thought that this species was introduced to this country from continental Europe. Its population was previously confined to the south coast but it seems to be spreading northwards. It has been recorded in this country since 1922 but it may have been here longer.
Female wasp spiders are 11-15mm and males are 4-4.5mm. The females are distinctively marked with a silvery thorax and black, yellow and white striped abdomen, but the males are pale brown.
Wasp spiders live on the south coast of Britain. They have been recorded as far north as Cambridge. This species occurs around the Mediterranean sea and their range extends as far north as Scandinavia.
They live in long grass and low vegetation. Because the egg sac is made on grass leaves, this spider can only become established where grass is not regularly managed. But this spider does occasionally turn up in barley fields.
Wasp spiders hunt flying insects and grasshoppers. Experiments have shown that they are also capable of dealing with the fearsome bombardier beetle. The bombardier beetle can produce a blast of hot chemicals from the tip of its abdomen. By wrapping the beetle in silk, the spider can immobilise it from a safe distance.
Wasp spiders build an orb web with a vertical zigzag pattern of silk in it called a stabilimentum. The purpose of the stabilimentum is unclear but it is thought that it helps attract insects. Previous theories have suggested that the stabilimentum makes the web more stable or deters birds flying through the large webs.
The male is much smaller than the female. He waits at the edge of the female's web until she has shed her skin to become mature. He then takes advantage of the fact that the female's jaws are soft to mate with her in safety. Many males, however, are eaten while mating.
Wasp spiders are protected by law in Belgium. They are not protected in the UK.
Some of the silk of this spider is slightly yellow in colour.