Oh my, tarantula hawks, yellow jackets, and hornets. Although wasps can be frightening, a world without them would be disastrous.
The problem is this. Rebranding is required for the wasp family.
While wasps, which are members of the same group as bees and ants, are clearly despised, bees have become the adorable striped darlings of the pollination set. It involves trapping, spraying, swatting, and squashing wasps. There are no Save the Wasps! campaigns or “plants for a wasp-friendly garden” lists. Wasps aren’t given enough attention in this.
Fair enough, bees do produce honey, which is excellent for PR. Wasps, on the other hand, have long been portrayed as villains and can sting extremely powerfully. But even so, they are important—very important.
Wasps Are Essential to Biodiversity
The Conversation article by Seirian Sumner, a senior lecturer in behavioral biology at the University of Bristol, discusses the denigrated insects. She adds, Despite having a bad reputation, wasps are vital to ecosystems and the global economy. Without them, there would be a drastic reduction in biodiversity and a biblical level of insect infestation on the earth. They are a valuable natural resource in a world dominated by people because they give us free services that benefit our society, economics, and ecology.
The unknown The majority of us understand intellectually that every living thing serves a purpose, and that the extinction of keystone species might result in catastrophe; nevertheless, emotionally, many of us would like to ignore this reality about wasps.
There Are More Than 110,000 Identified Species
More than 110,000 wasp species have been recognized, according to Sumner, and roughly that many are likely still undiscovered. The Parasitica and the Aculeata are the two styles that are available. The Parasitica group—which includes the majority of wasp species—lays its eggs in other organisms, as the name of the group suggests. And they accomplish this utilizing ovipositors, which are long tubular organs. The Aculeates, on the other hand, are mostly predators and only have stingers in place of ovipositors to enter living things. Keep with us—that goriness translates to goodness. Okay, so that probably doesn’t help with the attractiveness factor here. Sumner claims:
The number of arthropods, the biggest phylum in the animal kingdom, which includes spiders, mites, insects, and centipedes, is significantly impacted by both parasitic and predatory wasps. They are at the very top of the food chain for invertebrates. Wasps defend lower invertebrate species and plants by controlling populations of both carnivorous and plant-eating arthropods. The control of populations is undoubtedly their most significant ecological and economic function.
Wasps Are Master Exterminators
Although the majority of wasp species are solitary, the social species have a significant impact on insect populations. According to Sumner, a single nest offers an abundance of ecological benefits by eradicating huge numbers of spiders, millipedes, and insects that eat crops.
They control a variety of species since they are generalist predators, but not to the point where they annihilate other species. With their appetite for pests like caterpillars, aphids, and whiteflies, they thereby offer valuable, natural pest control to the agricultural industry; without them, global food security may be considerably less secure.
They Are Specialist Pollinators
They are specialized pollinators as well as generalist predators. They are very close to some foods, like figs. According to a popular saying, figs and fig wasps complement one other like peanut butter and jelly. However, did you know that figs require wasps and that they are a crucial species in tropical ecosystems? More than a thousand animals and birds would lose a significant food source if figs and the wasps that accompany them disappeared.
More than 100 species of orchids rely on wasps for pollination, therefore the loss of wasps would have disastrous effects not only on plants that depend on figs. A world without wasps would result in fewer orchid species. That’d be depressing. Similar services are also provided by wasp species that function as generalist pollinators, assisting plants that depend on winged assistance to transfer pollen from one rooted plant to another.
Wasp Venom May Contain Cancer-Fighting Properties
These small fighters are so valiant that they might even contain the solution to the biggest riddle of all time: how to cure cancer. The venom of a Brazilian wasp has been found to be capable of killing cancer cells in a laboratory setting by scientists investigating the anti-cancer effects of wasp venom. The results are definitely encouraging, but further investigation and clinical studies will be necessary to determine whether the physiologically active components of the wasp will actually result in a cure.
So yes, when you are eating outside, a yellow jacket could appear and take a piece of corn right off your plate. And yes, a swarm of obstinate wasps can be a frightening sight. (And even terrifying for individuals who are allergic to their poison.) In addition, they enhance ecosystems, are essential to the survival of many fruits and flowers, patrol our crops far better than humans can, and may even have the key to curing cancer. They might be an annoyance on a beautiful afternoon, but a world without wasps would be a catastrophe for the environment and the economy, as Sumner concludes.