Wasps are beneficial because they are predators and nearly every pest insect on the earth is preyed upon by a wasp species.
Wasps spend much of their time hunting smaller insects to feed their larvae. Many of their prey are crop and flower destroying bugs such as grubs, caterpillars, grain fly, aphids and weevils. The presence of wasps can be so beneficial to farmers that some farmers ship wasps in as a natural pest control for their crops. These wasps are either relocated from other areas or are reared and sold to farmers to aid them in cutting the use of pesticides on their crops.
Around 80 percent of the wasp population nest, feed and overwinter near areas of agriculture.
Wasps are also pollinators. Although not as effective as the honeybees, wasps are drawn to nectar, the sugar rich liquid produced by plants. As they feed, they pollinate the plants allowing them to reproduce and create seeds. Over 80 percent of the world’s flowering plants require a pollinator to reproduce. As the number of honeybees decline, we will be looking more and more to these insects for the successful reproduction of our natural food sources.
The hoverfly is another insect known as an aphid eating pollinator. Wasps and hoverfly cohabitate as the nests of social wasps provide homes for the hoverfly.
Did you know?
There are over a hundred thousand species of wasps around the world that we know about. There are also over 900 species of fig trees (mostly in the tropics) and almost each one of these trees has its own fig wasp. The wasps use the figs to reproduce and also to effect pollination.
Wasps need only to be destroyed if they are harmful to you because you are allergic to them or they are too close to your home.
To avoid being stung try not to wear heavily scented soaps or fragrances when you are in an area of wasp activity. Always wear shoes when walking in flowered areas and keep a look out for nests. If a wasp happens to land on or near you, remain calm and still and it will eventually fly off.
Wasps are pests to us, but their life cycle is so short and their benefits far outweigh their negative points. We are often afraid of what we do not understand and so hopefully by knowing a little more about these little insects and their valuable roles in the ecosystem, we will find it easier to live with them.