Wasps – What’s the Point of them?

They sting us. They annoy us. They don’t do anything useful like pollenating flowers and making honey. So what is the point of them!

The case for wasps involves their amazing social structure. In the spring, wasp queens, after hibernating over winter, make a small nest which is about the size of a cricket ball and in it they lay a batch of eggs that hatch into worker wasps. The job of these workers is to gather food for the young that the queen produces next.

Here’s the bit that makes them useful to us: the grubs that will turn into the new wasps will only feed on protein – why is this good for us? The available source of protein is other insects such as mosquitos and midges, so the worker wasps will prey on these and bring them back to feed the young wasp grubs with them. So at this time of year wasps are nature’s pest controllers!

And they work for free you might say – actually they don’t… in return for food the grubs give the returning wasp a sweet nectar treat that they can produce.

Why do they then start bothering us? This happens later in the summer when those young grubs have become adult wasps and no longer need to be fed by the workers, so now that those worker wasps are no longer getting their sweet pay-off at home they go looking for it elsewhere! And where better than from your soft drink!?

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