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.
This is wonderful. There’s a guy on YouTube, going by the name of Primer, who uses a computer model to explore evolutionary concepts, which he discusses on his YouTube channel.
Visually, it’s all very simple but there is something remarkably appealing about watching these amorphous blobs evolve and survive as he discusses the concepts being displayed.
It gets better though. Jasper Palfree at MinuteLabs have taken Primer’s simulator and made an online gadget that allows you to play around with the initial settings and watch the blobs evolve.
The blobs have three traits — speed, sight and sense range — all of which mutate at a predetermined rate. You can choose both the initial values for these traits and the rate of variance, and then you let it run and see what happens.
Another heatwave is upon us and I should probably be staying in the shade rather than obsessively meeting my daily exercise target. But if I had stayed indoors, I wouldn’t have seen this guy sunning himself.
This sent me down something of an internet rabbit hole. While the French are normally famous for eating frogs legs, I remember seeing somewhere that archaeological evidence points to the English having come up with this idea first — by a few thousand years. While trying to confirm this, I came across something much better.
This is the final post from our backyard bestiary (for now) but we do, of course, have a European garden spider loitering among the caterpillars and stink bugs. The photos I have aren’t great but I posting them anyway, (a) because I have them and (b) as a reminder to myself to go and see if we have any spiderlings in May.
Following on from yesterday’s caterpillar post, the reason I had my camera with me in the garden was that I’d previously noticed a number of black and red beetles at the back of the garden. I only found one out there yesterday, and here he is:
It turns out he’s a Graphosoma lineatum, also known as the Italian Striped-Bug or Minstrel Bug.
The question mark in the title of this post is deliberate and in place because I have never made an entomological attempt before today. But while outside this afternoon, I noticed that the nettles still clinging to our back fence were covered in caterpillars. And I do mean covered:
Obviously, I wanted to know what species of caterpillar these are and, after some searching, I have managed to convince myself that these are Red Admiral larvae.
I couldn’t find an exact photographic match but this is a native species and this does seem to be the right time of the year for them. And, of course, they were all over the nettles, which is the sole diet of Red Admiral caterpillars.
We could be in for quite a colourful autumn this year.