Most people think of wasps as frightening and often times aggressive intruders. They have been known to spoil picnics, family cookouts and even water balloon fights. They often get a bad wrap because “At least bees produce honey.” While wasps don’t have that distinction to fall back on, in the right circumstances, they do provide a great deal of value. Keep reading to learn how they accomplish this along with some other interesting facts about these predatory insects.
1. Most Wasps live in colonies. Wasp colonies have a distinct hierarchy consisting of queens, drones and workers. The male wasps are called drones, and their sole purpose is to mate with the queen. Once they have accomplished this all important mission, they die shortly thereafter. Worker wasp duties are much more advanced. They forage for food, feed the larvae and defend the nest. The queen’s primary role is to start the colony. A fertilized queen will build a nest, lay up to a dozen eggs and feed the larvae when the eggs hatch. These larvae become workers, and the colony begins to grow exponentially from there.
2. Wasps actually provide great benefit to the farming industry. Contrary to popular belief, wasps do actually serve a useful purpose. They are fierce predators and hunt virtually every insect or pest that harms crops. Some of their favorite targets include flies, grasshoppers, aphids and even other destructive bees. Having wasps around can protect and multiply the harvest that a farm can yield.
3. Wasps can sting you more than once. This is common knowledge, but it bears repeating. Wasps can sting you more than once, so if you swat at one, you had better strike true. It is also not wise to swat at one near its nest. Wasp venom contains a pheromone that triggers other wasps to become more aggressive. The pain of a sting is usually gone before 24 hours have passed, and there are various ways to treat a sting, including with deodorant that contains aluminum.
4. The only wasps that survive the winter are queens. A fertilized queen will find somewhere insulated like the inside of a log to hunker down for the winter. The rest of the wasps in a colony will die off by late fall. In the spring, the queen will emerge and begin building her nest. A colony can grow from the one queen to tens of thousands of wasps by the end of the summer.
Next time you are pestered by a wasp, remember that somewhere a farmer is glad they are around. If they become too big of a nuisance, be sure to call Optimum Pest Control for safe and thorough extermination.