The benefits of wasps were presented in the first major study, which focused on the functions of 33,000 known species of stinging wasps in ecosystems and was published in the journal Biological Reviews.
“If I tell someone that I’m dealing with wasps, I often come across Aha’s reaction and what are wasps for? Why don’t you study bees? They’re much more useful!” says Seirian Sumner, an entomologist and behavioral ecology specialist at the University of London, UCL. He believes that people don’t like wasps because they know little about their pros.
“We don’t mind bees stinging so much because we know what good things they’re doing in the world,” Sumner said. “But wasps can be just as valuable, just give them a chance. That’s why we’ve gathered the available evidence to show what functions wasps play in ecosystems,” he added.
Commonly known representatives of wasps, such as the wasp, wasp or hornet, make up only a small part of wasp species. But even they bring a benefit to man that is not well known. For example, they rid caterpillars of vegetables. Their poison is also being investigated as a promising remedy in the treatment of cancer.
There are about 100,000 known species of wasps in the world. However, about 70,000 of them are parasitic wasps that do not sting and have already been quite well researched. These species are used in agriculture for pest control, ie as a substitute for insecticides.
A recently published study showed that common wasps can deal with corn lightning that attacks cornfields in Brazil, or with sugar cane devastators.
In her research, Sumner proved that wasps fly on about 960 species of plants. Pollination of 164 of them is fully dependent on this bee insect. Among them are, for example, orchids, whose flowers attract male wasps because they resemble the back of a female wasp’s body.
Predatory wasps fly to the flowers to feed on their nectar. Only their larvae in the nest feed on the insects that the wasps catch.
About 1000 species of predatory wasps live in communities, other species are solitary. “Solitary wasps are great. Their venom contains an incredible cocktail that paralyzes prey and also contains a lot of antibiotics,” Sumner continues. Many solitary wasps lay eggs in paralyzed prey to feed the larvae. “So they need to make sure the food is stored properly,” the entomologist explains the presence of antibiotics.
Last but not least, wasps can also serve as food. Their larvae are eaten in Japan, India and Venezuela, for example, according to The Guardian.