Picture the scene. It’s a beautiful summer day. You’re sitting in the garden enjoying food or a drink, soaking in the nature around you. It’s a perfect moment.
Until the local wasp community decides that they want in!
At first, you try to dissuade them with some hand gestures. But instead of taking the hint, their curiosity quickly turns to aggression and you find yourself beating a hasty retreat back into the house. A seemingly perfect afternoon spoilt by a gang of wasp bullies!
Stunts like this don’t help wasps win any popularity contests, especially if they decide to move into your house and build their nest in your attic!
So, what is the point of wasps? Do they have any redeeming qualities or do they deserve the bad press they seem to attract?
You may be surprised to learn that wasps play a crucial role in our ecosystem, contributing to biodiversity, pest control and even human health. Let’s explore the often-overlooked benefits of wasps and shed light on their essential role in maintaining a healthy and balanced environment.
How are wasps beneficial?
Pollination: Whilst bees are well known for their work in transferring pollen from flower head to flower head, enabling the reproduction of plants, wasps also play a crucial role in pollination. Some plants are primarily pollinated by Wasps, rather than bees. This symbiotic relationship between wasps and plants helps sustain ecosystems.
Natural Pest Control: Wasps are efficient predators, contributing significantly to natural pest control. This greatly benefits farmers and gardeners as wasps help control the number of insects eating their crops, making them a much better alternative to using disagreeable chemical pesticides.
Ecosystem Cleaners: Some wasps are scavengers, feeding on dead insects and decaying organic matter. This role makes them essential in ecosystem clean-up crews, helping recycle nutrients and maintain a healthy environmental balance. Without wasps, dead insects and organic material would accumulate, leading to imbalances in the ecosystem.
Biodiversity Support: Wasps are an integral part of the food chain, serving as a food source for various predators, including birds, amphibians and other insects. The presence of wasps contributes to the overall biodiversity of an ecosystem, creating a complex web of interactions that enhances its resilience. A diverse ecosystem is better equipped to adapt to changes and disturbances, promoting long-term stability.
Medical and Scientific Discoveries: Wasps have also played a role in medical and scientific research. Venom from certain wasp species has been studied for potential medical applications, including pain management and cancer treatment. By understanding the compounds found in wasp venom, researchers can unlock new possibilities for human health.
Why are wasps attracted to BBQs and picnics?
Wasps are attracted to various human foods, especially those that are sweet or high in protein. This challenge is exasperated during late summer and early autumn when colony numbers peak and their natural food sources get increasingly scarcer. This resourceful behaviour doesn’t help them win favour with us humans. To top it off, if we react with fear or aggression by waving our arms around and making loud noises, this is sensed by wasps and triggers defensive responses from them.
How can we live together in harmony?
As we develop an appreciation for wasps’ wonderful and vital contribution to our ecology, our fear can turn to respect. Maybe next time a wasp flies into our home, rather than try to kill it, we can calmly show it the exit!
A pleasant afternoon in the garden can be enhanced by quickly bringing leftover food and used plates and glasses into our homes before they attract insects. Providing a decoy food source like a slice of ripe fruits, such as melon, apple or pear, as far away from your patio can help give you and your guests some space.
There are over 100,000 known species of wasps worldwide and scientists estimate that there may be many more undiscovered species
It is estimated that there are over 7,000 species of wasps in the UK alone
Wasps feed on nectar and honeydew (a sugary substance produced by sap-feeding insects like aphids)
Adult wasps also eat caterpillars, flies, spiders and other small insects
The vast majority of wasp species are solitary, meaning they do not form colonies like social wasps do
Social wasps, such as yellowjackets and paper wasps, construct intricate nests using a papery material made from chewed wood fibres and saliva
A few species of wasps are virtually microscopic
At CaplinTec, we are currently developing a product called EWE STOP Wasps, which is entirely harmless to wasps but provides a strong deterrent by using completely natural ingredients. You will be able to simply unscrew the top of the tin and place it on your table (or nearby) to enjoy a hassle-free afternoon! Screw the lid back on afterwards and use it repeatedly over the summer.
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