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Wasps: Total nuisance or horticultural hero?

Byline: Hannah Stephenson

THE warm summer has led to a rise in wasp numbers, according to pest controllers, while the heat has caused fruit - a wasp's favourite meal - to ripen much faster than usual.

We are all painfully aware of how much of a nuisance these yellow and black critters are when we're trying to have a civilised summer barbecue, but don't diss the wasp too much because it is hugely beneficial to the garden, says RHS principal entomologist Dr Andrew Salisbury. "The social wasps are hugely important beneficial predators - the grubs in the nest need to be fed a protein diet and that is other insects."

Not only do wasps play a vital ecological role in that they control the numbers of potential pests such as greenfly and many caterpillars, they are also valuable pollinators.

As for swatting: "Wasps can release alarm pheromones when they think they are being attacked, so swatting will cause this. It will induce defensive behaviour and makes them likely to sting."

There are seven species of social wasps common to the UK, some of which make their nests underground or in dark cavities such as roof spaces, others make theirs in open air such as branches or a shrub.

If wasps are damaging your fruit, reduce the risk by enclosing some of the fruit trusses in bags made from muslin or nylon tights. Fix wasp-proof screen over greenhouse doors to protect grapes.

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Publication:Manchester Evening News (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Date:Aug 18, 2018
Words:238
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