It's a beautiful, hot summer day. You're enjoying a cold, juicy popsicle. Then ... buzz ... buzzzzzz, buzzzzzzzz. A hornet wants your popsicle, too! It won't go away! Ahhhhhh! This nasty bug's persistent attitude and merciless sting can really ruin a picnic.
Before you run for bug spray, let Jaya and Maya show you how even the hated hornet has inner beauty.
When you think "wasp" or "hornet," you may think "annoying buzzing pest that stings." Believe it or not, there's a lot more to these little bugs.
Some people call any insect that stings a "bee." That's incorrect. Although many types of stinging insects are relatives, they are still very different from each other. There are lots of different kinds of hornets, and hornets are all subspecies of a larger insect category called wasps.
Wasps are different from bees. Bees are small and furry, mostly black and brown, and have a thick waist. Wasps have smooth bodies, thin waists, and bright color patterns.
You've probably seen the kinds with black and yellow patterns many times.
Unlike bees, wasps don't produce honey. They also don't die after stinging somebody! Bees die after just one sting, but wasps can sting many times.
A major reason for stinging is to protect a colony. Honey bees have huge colonies. One colony can have 75,000 bees or more! The worker bees build the nest and hatch the next queen. Wasps have smaller colonies. Queen wasps start building the nest for their colony instead of worker wasps.
Wasps play very important roles in nature that also help us humans. These are called "ecosystem services." The biggest service wasps provide is killing other bugs. Wasps give us free eco-friendly pest control!
Adult wasps hunt bugs. They don't eat their prey themselves. They feed it to their baby wasps. Crop-eating bugs are the main bugs that wasps hunt, so if there weren't any wasps, we would also need to use more toxic pesticides to control bugs that eat crops and carry diseases.
One study showed wasps ate 14 million kilograms of insects during a summer. That's 30 million pounds of bugs! If there weren't wasps, we would have way too many of these other insects. A very tiny type of wasp, called minute polyphagous wasps, are such good pest controllers that some farmers buy them and release them for natural pest control.
They do all that hunting, but adult wasps don't eat bugs. They eat nectar! They collect the sugar and nectar from flowers. They also like your sugary drinks.
Wasps need lots of energy, and they get it from pollen and nectar from many different flowers, pollinating as they visit. They aren't as picky as bees about what flowers they visit. They'll choose any flower.
This is helpful because in cities and farmland there may not be the right types of flowers for bees, but wasps still visit those flowers helping spread pollen. Wasps have also been found carrying yeast to wine-making grapes, and the Blastophaga wasp is one of the only ways some fig trees can be pollinated.
Today not just wasps, but many bugs are having a hard time due to changing environments.
Climate change, deforestation, habitat loss, and our use of insecticides kill all kinds of important insects. That's bad for all of us.
I hope you learned more about wasps and how they help us. Instead of hurting wasps let's try and help them.
The Great Golden Digger Wasp is a solitary wasp and a gentle giant.
There are thousands of kinds of wasps. Social wasps live in colonies. Solitary wasps live alone.
Most wasp varieties are solitary. With no colony to protect, they tend to be gentle, stinging only for hunting.
The next time you see a bee on a flower, look for pollen sticking to its furry body and sacs on its leas. because wasps are not furry to the naked eye, people used to believe they were not pollinators. Now scientists studying wasps are discovering they are much more important pollinators than we realised.
Jaya, 10, WA loves chemistry, science, reading, and nature. She has two dogs that she loves playing with. She likes cooking too.
Maya Rose, 12, CA loves to dance, play basketball, make art, and play Roblox! She LOVES the rain!!! She wants to be a zoo keeper and a kindergarten teacher.
by Jaya Gulati Jacobs
illustrations by Maya Rose Wiemann
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|Title Annotation:||OUR EARTH|
|Author:||Jacobs, Jaya Gulati|
|Publication:||New Moon Girls|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2021|
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