Continuing our occasional series on some of the perceived “Bad Guys” of the animal kingdom, today we look at the wasps invariably compared unfavourably with bees. As well as a poor contribution to the Spreads shelves at the supermarket, this is probably due to the fact they will sting repeatedly, unlike for example, the honeybee, whose barbed stinger tends to get stuck in human skin, along with part of its digestive tract, a huge rupture the bee can’t survive. However, as well as being an important part of the ecological balance, Yellowjackets help us as an important predator of pest insects. They feed these to their larvae, but are unable to digest such food themselves due to their thin waists. In return the larvae emit a sugar-rich spit the adults can drink. The traditional late-summer wasp problem occurs because there are no larvae left, and so the workers look for sugar in the form of nectar or your alfresco meal. Wasp larvae are a sustainable alternative to meat protein, one of the insects already eaten by over two billion people daily. They are a social insect, and build impressive nests out of the wood they chew into a paper-like pulp. We’ve had them nesting in our wall cavity this year, and they also nest in trees. Incidentally, for a contrast with “nature red in tooth and claw” see the second link below.
Photo by Pixabay