The only wasps in Australia that bear a close resemblance are other foreign wasps, including two close relatives (Vespula species) accidentally introduced from Europe to south-eastern Australia. These are an environmental threat and a nuisance to humans, and their nests should be destroyed when found, but there is no prospect of eradicating them, except in Western Australia, which has kept them out of the state by running a European Wasp Surveillance and Eradication Program.
The European wasp (Vespula germanica) has all the above-mentioned features, except that the black on the eye meets the black on the top of the head, rather than having separation by a yellow band. It is common in south-eastern Australia, occurring as far north as the Sydney and Bathurst regions. It sometimes turns up in Western Australia, after travelling across in vehicles, where it is subject to eradication.
The English wasp (Vespula vulgaris) of Europe has all but two of the features listed for the western yellowjacket: it has the black on the eye meeting up with the black on the top of the head, rather than being separated by a yellow band, and it has no diamond on the first abdomen segment. This wasp became established in Tasmania, Victoria and in South Australia around Adelaide, but it has declined since the arrival of the German wasp.
English wasp (Vespula vulgaris). Photo: Don Horne | CC BY 4.0
The European paper wasp (Polistes dominulus), found in temperate Australia, is readily distinguished from yellowjackets by the following: antennae and wings that are mostly orange-brown, a black eye that meets the black head, and legs that dangle when it flies. It is slightly longer (about 16 millimetres long) and thinner than a yellowjacket and the abdomen is more gently curved at the front. In Australia is found from Hobart to Adelaide. The Asian paper wasp (P. chinensis) is another introduced species, found in eastern Australia, that displays these differences.
European paper wasp (Polistes dominulus). Photo: Fritz Geller-Grimm | CC BY-SA 2.5