Often the word ‘wasp’ conjures up all sorts of fears in many of us but there is so much more to them than that.
Most people are probably only aware of the social wasps, that may annoy us in the autumn, but in fact there are 113 different species of wasp to be found in Jersey. Many are very small and easily overlooked while others are larger but maybe are mistaken for bees or flies.
All wasps are vital to the environment and awareness of their roles and their importance needs to be understood as they can be just as important as bees are.
These different species of wasp do not just undertake important pollination on a wide variety of plants and trees but also many are vital pest controllers who predate on other insects that can, for instance, destroy food crops.
So not only do they help pollinate our food but they also protect it from those insects that may damage it. Their importance in the latter cannot be overstated.
These are the large black and yellow wasps that we associate with landing on our jam sandwich or in our drinks in the autumn! But they are not the enemy, as they are often portrayed as, but are actually very important pollinators and pest controllers.
There are 6 different types of social wasp though only 2 of these will be likely to spoil your autumn picnic and even these two wasps are far more than just an annoyance!
It is estimated that in the UK social wasps consume about 14 million kilograms of crop-damaging insects each year and that is a lot of caterpillars!
So their obvious importance in this area really does need to be recognised and appreciated. If they were not here to do this vital service for free then there would be a need to significantly increase the use of chemicals against crop pests which not only would be bad for the environment but would increase the cost of food too.
Social wasps are very important pollinators and will visit many different types of flowers and their role in this is often under-appreciated.
By far the majority of wasps that we have are ‘solitary wasps’ and 107 of the 113 wasp species found in Jersey fit into this group. Many are small and are easily overlooked but yet all of them play a vital role in protecting the countryside as we see it today.
Compared to the social wasps they are not the most important wasp pollinators, though many do contribute a lot in this way, but they are amongst the best controllers of pest species on food crops and wild plants. This benefits us massively by helping protect our food supply and, because of this, keeping the cost to us down.
Ichneumon Wasps and Sawflies
These species are closely-related to wasps and many of them also contribute to the pollination of flowers though probably to a lesser extent.
There are 70 species from these two groups of insects to be found in Jersey.
Click the links below to learn more about the other main groups of insect pollinators: