We’ve all seen the memes, and I’m pretty sure we can all agree that wasps are jerks to put it lightly and in family-friendly language. An infinite number of stings and an angry temperament to go along with it…a good share of us have had our unfortunate encounters with one or more of these little creatures of fury. Simply google ‘wasps’ or ‘wasp memes’ and you will see how the collective internet views wasps. Here’s a hint: it’s not good.
I contemplated this and other negative facts as I protected my dinner plate from the swarming masses of wasps out on Richer Commons. Then a thought came to me, is there an actual biological purpose for wasps? Or is their sole reason for existence to torment every living thing on Earth?
Seriously. Even our dogs aren’t safe.
Unfortunately, according to the National Parks website…they DO serve a biological purpose. They state, somewhat ironically, in an article about wasp removal:
In terms of management, it is important to remember that all varieties of yellow-jackets are beneficial to the natural environment due to their predaceous behavior and consumption of large quantities of insect pests. If a nest does not pose a real, direct threat to personnel or to the public, it is recommended that you leave it alone.
Yeah, right. Who actually believes that? The moment we see a group of them hovering around a piece of lawn furniture or the side of the house, we’re arming ourselves with Raid and ready to go to war within a minute. Just like this guy (found at https://allyouneedischi.com/2016/03/20/sting-or-be-stung/)
Ironically, the next paragraph in the article warns those who may be attempting to remove a nest to know emergency procedures and contacts for someone who may get stung.
Despite all of the negativity on the internet surrounding wasps, yellow jackets, hornets and other bees, there are several other sources that echo the concerns of the National Parks Services. If we do somehow manage to completely eradicate the earth of wasps, we will lose a key part of the ecosystem that makes management of other insects easy. Some species of wasps are also known to be pollinators. Many species of figs and orchids depend solely on the pollination from specific populations of wasps. Apparently medical researchers are looking into the possibility of using active molecules in wasp venom for cancer therapy.
So, even though they are kinda jerks, and they sting us for no reason at all…it turns out they do have some pretty important biological purposes. So next time I’m thinking about swatting one of them away from my food, I will definitely think twice.