Why Do Wasps Exist? What Role Do They Play In The Ecosystem? | Kidadl


Why Do Wasps Exist? What Role Do They Play In The Ecosystem?

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When you have been stung by a wasp or hornet, it is only natural that you start to question why these pesky creatures even need to exist.

However, before you call pest control, it is important to remember the many ways in which adult wasps and their larvae silently help humans and work for the greater good. Not sure what we are talking about? Then read on.

Like bees, a hornet or wasp nest may very well give you a scare, but did you know that wasp larvae have actually been helping you as a form of natural pest control all of these years?

If you enjoy reading this article, why not also read about why do bugs like light and why do flies land on me.

What role do wasps play in the ecosystem?

Each animal and insect in the world has its own role to play, despite what humans may feel about them. There are some insects that are particularly infamous, and wasps and hornets are widely considered to be some of these frightening insects. It would hardly be right if we were to say that bees and wasps are completely innocent because, despite their important role in the natural world, they are known for having a very painful sting. No one wants to be on the receiving end of an angry bee or hornet.

No matter the inconvenience that they cause to us, the natural world and its ecosystem have a lot to thank insects like bees and wasps for. These tiny insects, as much as they annoy and threaten us, are an excellent form of pest control! Yes, you read that right. Hornets and wasps are nature's gift to itself since they control pest infestations amazingly well. Some species of wasps are known to prey on other insects such as spiders and caterpillars. This is done through a process called parasitism. Since these insects are parasites, the wasps' larvae feed on pests and, as a result, control the amount of unwanted pests that there may be in a certain area. The adult wasps never feed on other animals. Instead, wasp nests are built on spiders and caterpillars, and the larvae that hatch out of the eggs treat the pests as a food source, particularly as a rich source of protein. In this way, not only is the little black and yellow or brown colored insect given proper nutrition but it also benefits the greater good!

Apart from this, while wasps are not as widely known as pollinators as bees, they play a considerable part in the process nonetheless. These pollinators are vital in the production of fig. Fig wasps in particular are known to scientists as the most important part of the cycle towards pollination in figs. Scientists have even confirmed that if wasps were not around in the summer to travel from fig to fig, we would never have such a fruit in the world. While it may raise a little bit of alarm, wasps actually lay eggs inside the fruit of the male fig plant. However, you will never taste fig wasp eggs since the male fruit is not edible.

Nature has a few wondrous tricks up its sleeves that leave humans spellbound. When it comes to what worker wasps do for the greater good of nature, you may be surprised to know that these insects are excellent winemakers. If not winemakers, they at least have a huge role to play in the production of grapes! It is rather interesting to know that the yeast content in grapes, which is very important in the production of wine, ends up there through the help of social and solitary wasps. The social wasps that munch on the fruit pass on the yeast to the young ones in the colonies. When the young wasps grow up enough to be able to visit the next batch of fruit during the summer season, the yeast is then injected into the grapes. Hence, the eternal cycle of wine making is kept alive for the benefit of humans.

While it would be very alarming if a wasp colony were to show up near or in your house, some farmers actually pay for colonies of certain wasps that help with pest control on their farms! Let's just say that there is more to these insects than the stinging and incessant buzzing!

How do you avoid them without killing them?

While wasps won't give us honey as honey bees do, they do play an integral role in the ecosystem. We should look for ways to coexist with these insects. The first thing to do would be to accept that each animal and insect is simply in search of a good place to build nests and something to eat, and hence, the least we can do as humans would be to not deny them the right to live. Especially not when they are so beneficial towards society.

Wasps and insects all over the world are first and foremost attracted to sugar and nectar. Hence, if you are looking for ways to avoid these insects, covering any open food items is a great idea. Make sure that nothing with high sugar content (especially any leftover dessert) is left on the counter when there's an open window that wasp colonies could get drawn to. If you are concerned that wasps and hornets will absolutely annihilate the flowers that you spent so much time nurturing, try to keep something sweet and inviting on the other end of the garden so that these insects don't need to come even remotely close.

Insect repellents that don't have any DEET in them are also effective and, at the same time, ensure that no adult wasps are killed by any of your actions. If you plan on going out on a picnic, make sure that you and your family are sitting away from any fruit trees or plants because that is where a wasp nest is most likely to be found. In case you do find a wasp nest somewhere around your house, take a deep breath and call for help. Professionals can make sure that the colonies are not hurt while the nest is relocated.

While camping, make sure to invest in a good sleeping bag and some insect repellent. This will save you from a painful sting, and won't cause harm to the life of any adult worker wasp that was just trying to get something to eat.

Another useful thing to know is that some wasp species get attracted to perspiration. Try to wear antiperspirant to make sure that no wasp accidentally stumbles upon you when in search of food on a sunny summer afternoon!

European wasp or German wasp on a wooden board

Why can't bees do what wasps do?

Honey bees and wasps are very different when it comes to the function that they play in nature. While the honey bees are very selective when it comes to the flowers that they visit and hence are very effective pollinators, science does not classify social wasps or solitary wasps as pollinators. Unlike honey bees, most common wasps such as the European hornet (Vespa crabro) are not picky at all. They will visit any and all flowers. The workers of the wasp colony are only responsible for making sure that the young ones are fed and that the queen is served. Under such circumstances, since the workers are not burdened by the responsibility of producing honey, they are less selective. Hence, no wasp species are known to be able to make honey.

Furthermore, being a predatory insect, prey hunting is of the utmost importance to wasps. Clearly, this habit of many wasp species has been beneficial to the overall functioning of the machinery of pollination.

What are the different types of wasps and why are there so many?

Species of wasps are widely distributed across two categories. The first category would be called social wasp and the other would be solitary wasp. While developments in science have made it pretty obvious as to what it may mean to be either a social wasp or a solitary wasp, let us clarify. The social wasp would ideally be found in a colony, or in a group, as it looks for food or animals to prey on. The solitary wasp, on the other hand, would hardly build nests in a large community. The food would also be acquired alone.

When it comes to how many species of wasps and hornets there are in the world, the number is truly astounding. There are no less than 150000 species of wasps and hornets that could be building a nest near your house or stinging you right now! Well, that's not entirely true. Not all wasp species, whether social or solitary, sting. Although, only the social and stinging types are famous, such as the European hornet (Vespa Crabro)!

If you have been wondering why there are so many of these black and yellow nectar-eating insects in the world, the answer is fairly simple. It is because there are just that many fruits and other sources for wasps to feed on!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do wasps exist then why not take a look at why do bees die after stinging, or braconid wasp facts pages?

Written By
Shirin Biswas

<p>With a degree in English from Amity University, Noida, Shirin has won awards for oratory, acting, and creative writing. She has a wealth of experience as an English teacher, editor, and writer, having previously worked at Quizzy and Big Books Publishing. Her expertise lies in editing study guides for children and creating engaging content.</p>

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