A small to medium-sized hornet, Workers generally 17 to 23mm. This species has extensive yellow markings on the abdomen. There are a couple of different subspecies or geographical locations, each varying in the distribution of yellow especially on the thorax.
This species is commonly found in Japan, Korea and Russia.
Above: Vespa simillima (suspecies xanthoptera) from Japan.
Below: Vespa simillima from Russia.
Vespa simillima is a fairly common hornet throughout its range. In Japan, it is quite well adapted to live in urban areas. When food is scarce, it will even scavenge among rubbish sites.
It usually nests high in trees, and sometimes in and around buildings. This is another species known to practice nest relocation. Its nests are usually oval in shape and have an imbricate outer envelope (with numerous overlapping circular layers); they are similar to Vespa affinis nests in subtropical regions and can also get very large. It is also known to have a long colony cycle.
This species is known to be highly defensive.