Charismatic minifauna

There is something about wasp related news that really appeals to me. That said, I have no qualms about murdering the wee beasties when the build a nest in my own garden.

A new study into how the many species of stinging wasps contribute both to the ecosystem and human society, however, suggests that a more live and let live attitude might be in order.

“Wasps are one of those insects we love to hate – and yet bees, which also sting, are prized for pollinating our crops and making honey,” the study’s lead author, Professor Seirian Sumner of UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, told Eurekalert.

“In a previous study, we found that the hatred of wasps is largely due to widespread ignorance about the role of wasps in ecosystems, and how they can be beneficial to humans.”

Not only do they pollinate 960 species of plant — 164 of which depend on the wasp entirely — they also keep crops free from pests in their role as apex predator. The pest control aspect is not new, though, with Brazil farmers using live wasps for pest control as far back as 2013.

According to Professor Sumner:

Wasps are understudied relative to other insects like bees, so we are only now starting to properly understand the value and importance of their ecosystem services. Here, we have reviewed the best evidence there is, and found that wasps could be just as valuable as other beloved insects like bees, if only we gave them more of a chance.

I’m all for giving wasps more of a chance. Especially if they nest in someone else’s garden.

12 thoughts on “Charismatic minifauna

  1. Interesting. I always thought the wasps were integral to our ecosystem, just in another way than bees.

    I also think that wasps, at least the ones here in Canada, are scavengers and behave accordingly, whereas bees mostly don’t behave that way.

    In my personal experience, sitting outside with a drink or food, the wasps come after me aggressively. They want my food and my drink and nothing will stop them.

    Bees on the other hand will fly by calmly and then go collect pollen on a nearby flower basket.

    To counter the wasps aggressive behaviour we would put some juice of a bit of beer in a cup a few feet away from us, hoping they would go there instead of to us. It doesn’t always work though…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’ve always been aware that wasps, as predators, do keep pests down very effectively. I’d never realised, though, just how important they are as pollinators as well.

      We do have wasps buzzing around during the summer although. As long as there aren’t too many around, we usually ignore them until they go away.

      When they do become a problem, we use a large cola bottle with a bit of cola in the bottom to attract them away. It’s quite effective because, once they’re in the bottle they can’t get out.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That would be quite a flight for them 😉

      They usually aren’t much of a problem, but when they did nest in our garden, there was suddenly a _lot_ of them around every time we went outside.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Knew a researcher that studied wasps and they would curse about how he’s it was to get research grants. The bee guys were awash with money and the wasp researchers would be begging anyone and everyone for a small grant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That doesn’t surprise me at all.

      It’s something of a vicious circle, isn’t it? People can see that bees are useful and are happy to fund research telling them that bees are wonderful. But because don’t see the value of wasps, they don’t want to fund research into them and, therefore, never learn how useful they are.

      Like

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