Wonderful Wasps

Fall means that many of us are noticing wasps showing up around our farms and gardens. We see them joining our picnics, chewing on our overripe fruit, and menacing our beehives. Wasps are often hated, but, despite their picnic disturbing ways, they are very beneficial!
The ones we notice the most are the social wasps, the yellow jackets. While the adults enjoy a sweet treat (and are often seen in flowers), the young of all wasps are carnivores. A nest of a social wasp near your crops will feed hundreds of caterpillars to their larva!
We have multiple species, some nesting in the ground, such as the western yellowjacket.

© Bob McDougall, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)
Other species create aerial nests, like the bald-faced hornet.

© Bonnie Zand, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)

But, there are many more wasps that we tend to overlook! They live solitary lifestyles, often hunting down prey items (caterpillars, leafhoppers, spiders, ect), paralyzing them, and then bringing them back to their nests alive as food for their larva. Because they are not defending communal nests, these wasps are not aggressive, and they are beautiful. The adults can often be found on flowers, where they feed on nectar.

© Jan Smith, some rights reserved (CC-BY)

© Bonnie Zand, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)

Finally, we have the really tiny wasps. These are rarely seen, and are easily killed by pesticides. It takes a lot of observation to see the adults, but we can see the work they do! These wasps lay their eggs inside of a pest insect, and the wasp larva develops inside of and kills the pest. Where these benecicals have developed inside aphids, the crispy shells of the aphids remain behind.

© michalinahunter, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)

There are so many more wasps that the project has documented, and so many still to be found - please keep adding your observations!

Posted by bzand bzand, August 28, 2021 03:56

Comments

Love these wasp observations! :)

Posted by sambiology about 2 months ago (Flag)

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