If I be waspish, best beware my sting. 
 


 

 

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616)

Wasps

SHUTTERSTOCK

JONATHAN SWIFT (1667-1745)

Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.

Wasps


A wasp is any insect of the order Hymenoptera, suborder Apocrita that is not a bee or an ant.
 
The Urban Dictionary definition of a wasp is:
 
‘Evil scary yellow and black stripey insect that flies around stinging people and has a nasty little face like Darth Vader, not to be confused with the humble bumble bee who is just a little flying teddy bear that makes jam and gets shit-faced on pollen.’
 
There are some 30,000 identified species. We are most familiar with the yellow and black striped ones that can give us painful stings.
Wasps are distinguishable from bees by their pointed lower abdomens and the narrow ‘waist’ called a petiole that separates the abdomen from the thorax.
They come in all sorts of colours from yellow to brown, metallic blue and bright red. Generally, the brighter colored species are in the Vespidae or stinging wasp family.
Wasps are divided into two subgroups: social and solitary. There are about a thousand species of social wasps that build colonies, such as yellow jackets and hornets.

Parasitic Wasps


Nearly every pest insect on Earth is preyed upon by a wasp species, either for food or as a host for its parasitic larvae. Wasps are so adept at controlling pest populations that the agriculture industry now regularly deploys them to protect crops.
 
While the rest of the world was using pesticides, the Soviet Union and China were controlling caterpillars with Trichogramma wasps that are smaller than this full stop: . Now pesticides are going out of fashion in the West, farmers stick Trichogramma wasp eggs to bits of card and hang them on trees where they can hatch and attack caterpillar eggs.
 
·      The Australian lesser budworm moth is so bothered by parasitic wasps, that when it lays eggs, more often than not the resulting hatchling is a wasp, not a caterpillar.
 
·      The lava of the Polysphincta gutfreundi parasitic wasp releases chemicals that prompt an orb spider to weave a web that holds the cocoon for the larva to mature in. The ‘possessed’ spider even crochets a specific geometric design in its web to camouflage the cocoon from the wasp’s predators.
 
·      Asecodes abitarsis is a parasitic wasp that lays its eggs in another wasp, which then lays its eggs in the pupae of another wasp, which in turn lays its eggs in the caterpillar of a moth which feeds on trees. This makes the original wasp a parasite of a parasite of a parasite of a parasite; a quaternary parasitoid.
 
·      The parasitic emerald wasp Ampulex compressa turns the common household cockroach into a zombie by a ‘neurotoxic cocktail’ which blocks the receptors and deprives them of any will to escape to safety even when electrocuted or drowned.
 
 

A wasp sting can be treated with deodorant containing aluminium.


SHUTTERSTOCK

NHS Advice on avoiding wasp stings: Back away slowly. Don't wave your arms around or swat at them.

CHARLES DARWIN (1809-82)

I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.

 

Social Wasps


Social wasp colonies are started from scratch each spring by a queen who was fertilized the previous year and has survived the winter by hibernating.

When she emerges, she builds a small nest and rears a starter brood of worker females. These workers then take over expanding the nest, building multiple six-sided cells into which the queen continually lays eggs. By late summer, a colony can have 5,000 – 10,000 individuals all of whom, including the queen, die off in winter. Only newly fertilized queens survive the winter to restart the process in spring.

Most animals have developed a fear of stinging wasps and avoid them. Creatures who disturb a nest will find themselves quickly surrounded. A social wasp in distress emits a pheromone that sends nearby colony members into a defensive, stinging frenzy. Unlike bees, wasps can sting repeatedly. Only female wasps have stings, which are modified egg-laying organs.

SHUTTERSTOCK

The parasitoid wasp Aleiodes gaga was named after Lady Gaga.

SID WADDEL (1940-2012) 

He's about as predictable as a wasp on speed.

The largest wasp in the world is the Asian giant hornet. It’s 2 inches long with a 3 inch wingspan.

Solitary Wasps


Solitary wasps don’t form colonies. This group includes some of the wasp family's largest members. While social wasps only use their stings for defense, stinging solitary wasps rely on their venom to hunt.