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What use are wasps?

Last modified: 08 August 2011

Illustration of wasp

What use are wasps? In August it’s a question that many picnickers may ask themselves as they flail and panic, clutching crisps and fizzy pop. Now the RSPB have come up with an answer.

Visitors to RSPB Greylake in Somerset - where stoats are currently seen regularly from a top-notch boardwalk and hide - are being encouraged to pay homage to some much maligned critters.  Harry Paget-Wilkes, Greylake’s manager, explained: ‘when wasps moved into an abandoned hole on the approach to our hide we roped it off, and then we celebrated!’

‘Wasps play an important role as early pollinators in the UK,’ elaborated Matt Brierley, RSPB’s People Engagement Officer for Somerset. ‘Left to their own devices they’ll buzz from flower to flower collecting nature’s sugar; nectar.’

RSPB Greylake’s Reserve Manager, Harry Paget-Wilkes was also excited about the black-and-yellow arrivals. ‘Birds called flycatchers smash wasps against branches to remove their sting and guzzle them down. And a dragonfly will happily take its chances. Wasps are a vitally important link in lots of foodchains. And their paper nests are so intricate they can’t fail to impress. They recycle dead wood and often bury it, the very best example of nutrient recycling.’

People are being encouraged to watch their comings and goings from well behind the roped off area as wasps do defend their home. 

‘Take care when watching, but take a moment to consider what they are up to,’ enthused Matt. ‘The usefulness of wasps is something people often wonder about. However, wasps eat caterpillars and aphids. Gardeners should welcome them with open arms!’

For more details about the usefulness of wasps, and about RSPB Greylake Nature Reserve, contact Matt on 07971600424.

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