I'm looking to identify what I thought was a hornet but which doesn't look like the pictures of the European Hornet that I can find. It landed on me today at Roche Abbey in South Yorkshire and seemed very docile but was bigger than any hornet I've seen before - 2.5" at least.
This is very interesting - it's not a hornet but belongs to another group of wasps, the sawflies (Hymenoptera (Symphyta): Cimbicidae).
These beauties are Cimbex connatus I believe, which had all but vanished from the UK but made an unexpected return just over 10 years ago and has been steadily gaining new ground. There is another very sinilar species, Cimbex luteus, and this is similarly a rarity.
Thanks so much! That explains why we had so much difficulty finding anything like it in any reference galleries. We just never realised there were sawflies that large but it was a stunning thing to see close up.