Thursday, 6 October 2011

Buzzing Around

What's black, yellow and good for the garden?

Wasps! If you said bees then you can have half marks. It's well known that bees are great at pollinating our gardens but wasps do this and more. Adult Common wasps eat nectar from flowers, pollinating as they go, but also kill pests, such as aphids and caterpillars, for the wasp larvae to eat.

Until last week I didn't know much about wasps, but then I started volunteering for Buglife. This small but perfectly formed charity is the first in Europe devoted to the conservation of invertebrates including insects, spiders and snails. As part of my volunteering I wrote this months Bug of the Month on the Common wasp, which is now on their website here.

While writing the article I discovered loads of fascinating new facts about wasps. Did you know that in the Midlands they're nicknamed jaspers, either because of the Latin for wasp being vespa or after their similarity to the striped mineral jasper?

Did you also know that at this time of year wasps are more likely to go for your crisps than your fizzy drinks? Earlier in the summer there are lots of larvae which the wasps tend to. While this is happening the adult wasps get small droplets of sugar water from the larvae, which helps sustain them. At this time of year there are hardly any young left and so the adults must find other ways of getting their sugars and carbohydrates. Crisps and fruit are great for this and so wasps are commonly found on fallen fruit or trying to get into carbohydrate rich foods during the Autumn.

There are also more wasps around at this time of year too. The numbers steadily grown throughout the summer, from when the nests are built in spring to now when their completely full and can hold up to 10,000 wasps each.

For more information on wasps and all other insects go the the Buglife website!

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