Everything About Wasps

by Hobbies

Paper wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets, all belong to the same family. They provide extraordinary ecological services, that include pollination, parasitism, and predation.

The term "wasp" includes thousands of species of parasitic wasps, hunting wasps, digger wasps, spider wasps, and pollinators like the fig wasps. Though a wasp sting is extremely painful, they provide extraordinary ecological services, that include pollination, parasitism, and predation. Paper wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets, all belong to the same family. Wasp species are categorized as social or solitary. The social wasps live in colonies, which may number in thousands. Within these colonies, the female workers perform all duties within the nest. Solitary wasps live alone. They do lay eggs, that are left alone to hatch.

Wasps Can Be Very Helpful In Eating Crop Destroying Bugs

Yellow Jackets
Yellow Jackets

Predatory wasps kill and consume other insects, which they feed to their larvae. The parasitic wasps typically lay their eggs on the bodies of caterpillars and spiders. Many of them also feed on nectar from flowers, and therefore function as pollinators.

The common wasp species include the Eastern Cicada Killer Wasp, Great Black Wasp, European Paper Wasp, Ground Wasp, Spider Wasp, and red wasp.

Wasps Can Be Very Helpful!

Wasps can be very helpful in eating crop-destroying bugs, such as grubs, caterpillars, and weevils, and help keep the pest population under control. The paper wasps carry caterpillars and leaf beetle larvae back to their nests to feed their growing young. Hornets provision their nests with all sorts of live insects to feed their developing larvae. 

They also help in pollination. 

Research at the University of Florence discovered that both hornets and wasps carry yeast cells in their gut, the same yeast that is used to brew beer, wine, and make bread. They feed on late season grapes, that are rich in wild yeast. This yeast survives the winters in stomachs of hibernating queen wasps and is passed onto their offspring when the mother wasps regurgitate food for their young. The new generation of wasps carries the yeast back to the next season's grapes.

Wasps Make Their Nests From Chewed Wood Particles

Wasp nest
Wasp nest

Bees and Wasps

Both bees and wasps are members of the insect order Hymenoptera. They differ greatly in appearance. While bees are more full-bodied, hairy, and appear to be fuzzy, a characteristic that helps them collect and disseminate pollens, the wasps are more slim-bodied, have slender legs and their body appears to be non-hairy and shiny. 

Bees consume pollens and nectar from flowering plants. For most of the year, wasps are predators and feed other insects to their young.

Bees make nests from wax. They are perennial insects, and as long as the colony is healthy, the nest remains active for many years. Wasp nests are made from a paper-like material of chewed wood pieces and their own saliva. They only use their nests for a year, only a few specialized wasps reuse old nests.

Both bees and wasps sting to defend themselves and their colonies. Honey bees' stingers are barbed, so after stinging and flying away, the stinger is torn from the bee and remains in your skin. On the other hand, the wasps can pull out their stinger, so they are able to sting more than once without injuring themselves.

Wasp Facts & Information

There are many different types of wasps which can be found in every region of the world. The following articles detail facts and information about many different types of wasps....

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How To Protect Yourself From Wasps

Wasp stings can get extremely painful, and cause severe allergic reactions. Steps that can be taken to prevent wasps from building a nest in your home or garden include the following:

  • Check your house for unsealed vents, torn screens, cracks around windows and door frames. Observe the flight path of a wasp especially in the morning. Search for and seal off its entry or exit point.
  • In spring and early summer, wasps are attracted to protein food, while, in late summer and early fall, they prefer sweet food. Open cans of fruit juices, open garbage containers, and uncovered compost piles can serve as hotspots attracting swarms of wasps. Be sure to cover open food containers, avoid walking barefoot near fruit trees, and remove any fallen fruit rotting on the ground.
  • Avoid wearing bright colors or floral patterns.
  • Avoid squashing them, as this can be counterproductive, and attract other nearby wasps. It is best to walk away from a hovering wasp.
  • Avoid use of perfumes, as, sweet smells can be inviting for the wasps.
  • To prevent them build a nest in your birdhouse, you can rub the under roof liberally with bar soap, or line it with an aluminum foil using a staple gun.

Reference sources:




Updated: 01/05/2016, Hobbies
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