Wasps - Good or Evil

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That’s what I thought ever since I was stung be one in the street when I was eight. There I was playing innocently with my mates when I felt a excruciating pain (I was eight) in my arm as the viscous monster pumped its sting into me.

And then there was the time when at the county final of Trophy Camp in the scouts. Me and my mate were preparing fruit salad in the food tent, when all wasps from miles around invaded the tent, guided in by the aroma of fresh oranges. We quickly evacuated the tent and finished preparing the salad in the open, which was now free from wasps.

Then recently Liss and I were enjoying a pleasant lunch on the terrace of a café at a garden centre when a German Wasp decided to investigate my drink. The only good thing from it was that I managed to take a few close-up snaps of it.

But are wasps truly evil ? Do they have any positives ?

The Case For The Prosecution

• Wasps sting. The sting and keep on stinging. And the sting contains a venom.

• Wasps are parasites : many species lay eggs inside their victims (other small insects) and once they hatch they eat their host from the inside.

• Wasps will build their nests almost anywhere that’s convenient : Inside air bricks, bird houses, childrens trampoline legs ….

• Apart from the Fig Wasp none of the 10,000 species of wasp play a part in the pollination process.

• During autumn wasps go on a feeding frenzy and so will attack anything that gets in their way.

The Case For The Defence

• All but the Queen wasp live for less than one year as all workers & drones die off in Autumn. Only the Queen wasp survives the winter in order start next years colony.

• Wasps a eaten by all sorts of animals ; badgers, frogs & toads, birds, dragon flies, beetles, rats & mice. So they have a significant place in the food chain.

• Wasps in turn eat small garden pests such as caterpillars and aphids.

• Up until the 1950s in various towns in Scotland the local children were given 1d for every Queen Wasp stuck to a piece of card and presented to the officials.

• A wasp nest is an intricate paper–like construction made from chewed wood and vegetable pulp. The queen starts off with a single cell and then builds six more around it to create the hexagonal shape. A nest is usually home to around 3000 wasps.

I’m still not sure.

But in summing -up I’ll say this. The cold winter and spring then warm summer this were ideal conditions for wasps and their populations swelled to many time their numbers of recent years. And the bumper fruit harvest this year is keeping them active for longer. And as the fruit ferments on the tree the wasps become drunk and even more viscous. Moreover, wasp populations are concentrated in high human population centres. The larger the city, the higher the number of wasps.

Finally, if you are stung don’t pull the sting out with tweezers as that may squeeze more venom into your wound. Instead try to flick the sting out using your finger nail or the edge of a credit card or other similar stiff edged object. The next stage of treatment is to wash the wound, which is usually identified by a red wheal about 1cm in diameter, is to wash it with soap and water. Then keep the area cool with a wet cloth or handkerchief. If needed add antihistamine to the spot or take a mild pain-killer. But do be careful, if stung repeatedly of suffer from an allergic reaction seek professional medical help as soon as possible.
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