Wasps go down the pub

Oldham Advertiser - - WILDLIFE -

IT’S that time of the year when sit­ting out­side the pub has added en­ter­tain­ment value as rev­ellers spring past you in a state of frenzy, screech­ing as a small in­sect chases them.

Ac­tu­ally, in most cases that in­sect, a wasp, is hap­pily sup­ping the drink of the now fran­tic pub cus­tomer.

This scene is re­peated at the late sum­mer bar­be­cues as house­hold­ers re­alise they may have a wasps’ nest close to their home.

The big prob­lem is that th­ese supreme yel­low and black preda­tors are a bit bored and have a strong yearn­ing for sugar and other sweet things.

Wasps were cre­ated as su­per hunters spend­ing most of sum­mer catch­ing aphids, spi­ders and other in­sects to feed their queen and younger wasps. This is the nicer side of wasps – nur­tur­ing the young­sters in their nest.

How­ever, when the queen stops lay­ing eggs and cre­at­ing a hor­mone that at­tracts the work­ers, they have no rea­son to hang around, so off they go down to the pub.

At this time of year fruit has fallen off the trees and fer­mented, which again at­tracts the wasps.

As with youths, who can­not hold their drink, th­ese drunken wasps can be ag­gres­sive and this is the time that they are most likely to sting. This isn’t a great prob­lem un­less you are al­ler­gic, then it is a ter­ri­ble prob­lem.

I am lucky that I do not re­act to bites or stings, but I have friends who have re­acted badly. I re­ally shouldn’t be flip­pant about peo­ple flee­ing wasps.

So the ques­tion is – what is the point of th­ese angry, drunken lit­tle beast­ies? Wasps are ac­tu­ally one of the great pol­li­na­tors in our gar­dens.

Your flow­ers are thriv­ing be­cause of wasps, bees and other as­sorted in­sects.

They are also su­perb hunters and seek out and de­stroy many aphids which are harm­ful to our gar­den flow­ers and plants.

They ac­tu­ally look like hunters with their sleek, black and yel­low striped bod­ies.

The queens are the largest of the wasps, reach­ing around 20mm long with work­ers from 12 to 18mm.

De­spite their bad rep­u­ta­tion wasps do serve a use­ful pur­pose and work bloom­ing hard, so they de­serve a bit of a rest. But if you see them down the pub don’t panic just give them a wide berth.

●● A wasp look­ing for sugar on fruit

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