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Wildfuzz

'what's The Point Of Wasps?'

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'You're having a few drinks in the garden with your friends, or a family BBQ, when a load of pesky wasps arrive to spoil the party. You haven't seen them all summer and then suddenly they're all over the place, annoying everybody, causing panic and helicopter hands. Sound familiar?

 

August is the time of year when people start to ask 'what's the point of wasps?' The answer may surprise you.

 

Did you know that there are approximately 9,000 species of wasp here in the UK? These include the parasitic wasps, some of which are so diminutive they are like pin heads. Of the 250 larger wasps which have a stinger, the majority are solitary and cause no upset to humans.

 

However, when we talk about wasps, we're almost certainly referring to the our nation's nemesis, the Common wasp (Vespula vulgaris). To understand why these wasps become really annoying this time of year, you first need to understand their life cycle.

 

Common wasps live socially like bees but, unlike honey bees, they haven't evolved a way of storing food to allow the colony to survive the winter. In fact the only survivors are the young, fertilised queens who hibernate over winter. They emerge in the spring to build little walnut sized nests where they they lay around 20 eggs.

 

The queen feeds the resulting larvae until around May, when they mature and become workers. Then she focuses on more egg-laying and the workers get on with feeding them, enlarging the nest as they go along. By this time of year the nest has grown to around 40cm in diameter, often larger, and that nest can contains up to 10,000 wasps!

 

Then, in mid August and September, a dramatic change takes place. The queen quits her egg laying (save a few that will go on to be future queens and males to fertilise them) and no longer releases the pheromone that causes the workers to work.

 

Basically, these workers are made redundant, and are left jobless and disorientated. And the problem for us is that, although adult wasps are insect predators, that meat is to feed the larvae not themselves. In their adult state wasps are not able to digest solid food and need sugary liquid to survive. Now, with fewer or no larvae to feed, they become uncontrollably and insatiably hungry.

 

Wasps love easy food such as over ripe fruit and your fizzy drinks. Towards the end of their brief lives, their hunger drives them to search for easy sugar at exactly the time when we are more likely to be using our gardens and outdoor spaces for eating sweet things. The timing couldn't be better for them or worse for us.

 

So why are those who panic and try to swat them away more likely to be stung than those who remain calm?

 

Well the problem is that these redundant workers have their own pheromone, which helps protect the nest from attack earlier in the year, and that's essentially a chemical rallying cry to other workers that the nest is under attack.

 

So when you swat that annoying wasp and it feels under attack, that rallying cry will go out. Suddenly it all kicks off, and loads more wasps will start arriving in aggressive 'red-mist' mode, fired up and ready to defend their nest. This is why the best advice is to stay calm.

 

Think of it this way, from May that wasp has been working its socks off helping to keep things nice on planet earth. Now it’s going to die. So why not give it a break, save your swats, put a bowl of sugary drink somewhere out of your way, and let it go out on a nice sugar rush :-) At the very least don't kill it.

 

What's the point of wasps? Without them it’s likely that human life would not survive because, in the absence of their role as predators, our planet would be overrun by even more damaging insects such as aphids, ants and caterpillars.'

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Wow! I didn’t know any of that. Am now feeling sorry for the wasp that drowned in my glass of cider yesterday (didn’t feel so sorry at the time!).

wasp rehabilitation time?

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How very interesting well done Stuart, i shall behave accordingly and tell others.John

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The wasp that stung me on the shoulder this afternoon, which hurt like hell, didn't have a very long life span, I can tell you that :default_biggrin:

7 minutes ago, YnysMon said:

Wow! I didn’t know any of that. Am now feeling sorry for the wasp that drowned in my glass of cider yesterday (didn’t feel so sorry at the time!).

wasp rehabilitation time?

Maybe not Helen but it died a very happy wasp :default_drinks:

Grace

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Didn’t have long to enjoy its bliss though!

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Loads of wasps at the fur and feather today. One group of drinkers first blamed the koppaberg for them being pestered, then decided to change tables to try to avoid being bothered, (didn't work) then finally blamed it on one of the blokes aftershave and went inside.

If you've got the temprament to keep calm around them all is usually fine, if you haven't, August sucks. 

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During "wasp season" I always found it wise to pass Cantley at a good lick. They seem to like it there and come nosey parkering on passing boats!

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" The Wasp Factory" the first novel from the superb Scotsmaan Iain Banks is a fine novel, if you like a bit darkness and twist. Nothing much to do with wasps if memory serves me though!

 

Thank me later :default_icon_e_ugeek:

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That was a very interesting read Wildfuzz, thank you. I’m feeling really sorry for wasps now! We do seem to be forever trying to encourage them to leave the boat as they worry the dogs who try and snap at them, not a good idea! I got stung a couple of weeks ago, I moved my arm just as one had settled on it. The only things we actually kill are mosquitoes, everything else gets sucked up into the spider catcher and waved away back into the open air. So if you see someone madly waving a long tube like thing, it will probably be us! 

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My elderly mum got stung twice last night while asleep.  Wasps are not in my good books and never will be. 

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Wildfuzz, sat outside today and put out a small dish with a little orange juice plus some jam round the rim. A couple of wasps turned up and seemed to be enjoying themselves with the jam.

While this was happening a smaller wasp landed on a plate with some tiny pieces of chicken and after playing around with it for a bit flew off, presumably to feed the larvae. It returned (or one of its pals did) another couple of times and took some more chicken.

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Very interesting read - thanks for that...  i tend to stay calm around any buzzing thing and let get on their merry way - however,  because i am like catnip to mossies - they tend to be the only things that i cannot stand..... 

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I am one of those annoying people who never gets bites even when everyone else is under attack. I have never been stung by a wasp or bee.

Twin brother and sons are the same.

My mother in law says its because I have bad blood :default_wacko:, just going to turn her electric chair on :default_smiley-angelic002:

 

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Another interesting fact is that wasps also polinate plants. Probably by accident than anything else. 

I think the wasps have been particularly bad this year as they normally don't bother me. But got stung for the first time ever this year. Looks like we have a nest at the end of the garden. A week later and it's still itching  

Had to put the wasp catchers out I'm afraid. More to try and keep them at the end of the garden. Also managed to get 3 hornets in it last night  Impressive beasts, but scary looking. 

3 of my friends also got stung Saturday on our boats. 

My wife reckons wasps are evil, nasty people reincarnated.  She may be right if there is such a thing. 

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The best thing for a wasp sting is to rub some vinegar into it as it takes away the worst of the sting straight away.

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7 hours ago, Baitrunner said:

My wife reckons wasps are evil, nasty people reincarnated.

No, I don't believe in reincarnation. I didn't in my last life either, nor the one before that.

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What an interesting post, I have read most of it but not all of it as it was quite long but I did get the general gist, many years ago when I worked for my father on the farm we were encouraged to destroy wasp nest as the workers that is the people that work for us didn't wish to be stung, but after reading this and understanding what a wasp does, and it's very short lifespan I realised what bastards we were in shortening their lives, Which just goes to show you should understand nature and what makes it tick and this is my contribution to the thread, thank you regards Ted

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Imho, no matter how you dress it up, Jaspers are the hooligan / skinhead element of the insect world.  I have no fear of them, just a wariness about getting stung. I can quite happily allow a jasper to crawl over my bare skin, pick them up etc.  This fallacy of if you don't bother them, then they in turn won't bother you is a right load of Pretty flowers.  The number of times I have observed a jasper crawling / walking along my bare  leg / arm, only then to visually witness and consequently feel the pain as the damn thing has stung me before attempting flight.  Met of course with the flat of my hand at crushing speed.  They are insect scumbags as far as I'm concerned no matter how short their lifespan.  A lifespan I might add I am quite happy to shorten further.  Repeating mysen, if the little sh1ts did in fact leave one alone if you leave them alone I would not harm one of their tiny hairs, sadly the facts state differently

Griff

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39 minutes ago, BroadAmbition said:

Imho, no matter how you dress it up, Jaspers are the hooligan / skinhead element of the insect world.  I have no fear of them, just a wariness about getting stung. I can quite happily allow a jasper to crawl over my bare skin, pick them up etc.  This fallacy of if you don't bother them, then they in turn won't bother you is a right load of Pretty flowers.  The number of times I have observed a jasper crawling / walking along my bare  leg / arm, only then to visually witness and consequently feel the pain as the damn thing has stung me before attempting flight.  Met of course with the flat of my hand at crushing speed.  They are insect scumbags as far as I'm concerned no matter how short their lifespan.  A lifespan I might add I am quite happy to shorten further.  Repeating mysen, if the little sh1ts did in fact leave one alone if you leave them alone I would not harm one of their tiny hairs, sadly the facts state differently

Griff

I totally agree, it's like when people say about spiders being good for us, they keep other nasty insects at bay etc but when you've got one of those big hairy buggers the size of a small tarantula walking across the carpet headed right at you, thoughts of anything good they do for the environment goes right out the ruddy window :default_biggrin:

Grace

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A couple of years ago at Oulton Broad I was eating a sandwich which unbeknownst to me it was sharing. I bit it and it bit me on the lip. I won he died ,worse was to come my ex friend sprayed me with antihistamine which was cold, just the shock really. It did smart for awhile though. 

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I am 100% one of those completely panic stricken people that have an automatic flee reaction to them, they scare the bejeasus out of me. Not been stung since being a kid when I stood on one so ok ok it wasn't the wasps fault but I have known them to sting without provocation :default_eusa_naughty: so don't be telling me to stay calm if one flies near me I'm off lol  

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