Wasps are essential for the ecosystem, but I have to admit that my experiences with wasps have been mostly negative. I am very allergic to their stings. My only positive experience with a wasp was when I was teaching a homeroom made up of kids who were in trouble with the school or the law — many of whom were wearing ankle bracelets. The night before the first day of school, I was stung over my left eye by a wasp, resulting in my eye being swollen shut and my face badly distorted. When I walked into my homeroom, there was dead silence until one gang leader said in a timid voice, “What does the other guy look like?”
Wasps have been called “nature’s pest controllers” by wasp expert Dr. Seirian Sumner. Wasps are carnivores who lay their eggs in the body of other insects, and the larvae consume the host after hatching. Wasps control aphids, white flies, cabbage loopers, and brown marmorated stink bugs, all of which are a problem for agriculture.
In addition to killing these crop problems, wasps are pollinators. Wasps pollinate 960 plant species, and 164 species depend entirely on wasps. For example, figs could not reproduce without wasps, and more than 1,000 tropical birds and mammals rely on figs for food. In addition, over 100 orchid species depend on wasps as pollinators. So, yes, wasps are essential for the ecosystem.
When you realize all the good that wasps do and understand that only 1.5% of wasp species sting humans, you have to recognize that wasps are a tool of God to enable us to have the food we eat and the flowers we love.
— John N. Clayton © 2022
Reference: National Wildlife magazine, August/September 2022, pages 12-13.
If you want to learn more, there is a new book by Seirian Sumner titled Endless Forms: The Secret World of Wasps published by Harper Collins.