Wasps of New England, Ecology and Identification

RGV BioU Mark

Instructor: Sloan Tomlinson
August 12 - 13, 2023 | $285
Course size: 12 students
Financial support available (contact us)


asps are considered by many entomologists as the most diverse group of animals on the planet, with estimates between 800,000-3,000,000 possible species across the globe. During this course participants will delve into the amazing diversity of wasps present in our own backyards here in New England. While New England may not have the diversity of the tropics, there are hundreds if not thousands of species of wasp present here. Ranging in size from miniscule wasps smaller than a pin head to the robust eastern cicada killers, our largest species of wasp. Wasps inhabit a wide range of habitats throughout New England, and play vital roles throughout them as pollinators, predators, parasitoids, and recyclers. Throughout this course we will learn in detail how important these often-overlooked insects are; their roles in the ecosystems they inhabit, and their complex connections to food webs and plant-pollinator networks. Without wasps, our beautiful New England landscapes could not exist.

This course will teach people how to easily identify wasps to family level while out in the field, and by the end of it our most ubiquitous, as well as many of our less seen wasps will be easily identified by the participants. The course will take place primarily out in the fields and woods of the expansive land of North Branch, but will also be offset by short lectures to learn the distinguishing morphology of the wasps we encounter. Lessons will be given on how to safely capture and study the wasps more carefully, as well as the importance of letting them go. Participants will be given handouts with easy-to-follow ID notes, enabling them to continue their wasp studies after the class is over. It’s hoped that by class’s end the participants leave with a new found appreciation for the many wasp species’ role in our native ecosystems and the ability to easily indefinity specimens as they come across them. Wasps are such vital parts of our ecosystems, getting to know the individual players in the game helps us better understand their importance!

About the Instructor

Sloan Tomlinson is a researcher and educator who has been studying wasps since he was a small child. As a photographer he has been working to photograph as many wasp species as possible from New England in ways never done before, and has been discovering new species and behaviors. He has participated in several wasp courses as a lecturer, most recently in January 2022 through PennState. While calls himself an "autodidactic entomologist," he has worked a great deal with academics through various institutions. He has been working as a SciComm educator through various social media outlets for over ten years now, and runs the Instagram @thatwaspguy.

Recommended Reading

Wasps by Eric Eaton


We will provide coffee, tea, and light breakfast fare (pastries, etc.) each morning. Participants should bring their own lunches and snacks.


Course begins 9 AM on Saturday at North Branch Nature Center. Course begins on Sunday at a time of the instructors' choosing. Course concludes by 5 PM on Sunday.

Physical Requirements

Participants must be able to travel at least a mile each day on flat grassy paths and dirt trails. Participants should be comfortable outside in potentially cold or wet conditions for long periods of time. Please reach out to us if you have any questions about mobility and/or other accessibility needs.

Academic Credit / Professional Development

This course may qualify for 1 graduate-level credit for an additional $200 course fee. All BioU courses are accredited by Castleton University. Participants interested in receiving credit must contact us at least 2 months in advance so we have time to arrange course accreditation.

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that home institutions will accept the credit. Participants pursuing academic credit will be required to complete an additional assignment above and beyond the course hours, including literature review, reflective writing, or a field-based project.

This course qualifies for 20 hours of professional development hours and continuing education units. Certificates of completion are provided at the conclusion of the course.

Cancellation Policy

While we realize that unexpected circumstances arise that are out of our control, North Branch Nature Center cannot guarantee refunds for registrations cancelled within 30 days of the course.  If a cancellation occurs within this window, NBNC will attempt to fill the space from our wait list and provide a full refund. If the course needs to be cancelled by NBNC, we will provide a full refund.

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206

Hours: Center Open Monday-Friday 9-4
Trails Open 24/7