August 1, 2017 12:07 pm
Updated: August 1, 2017 2:11 pm

Local entomologist wants to set the record straight on wasps

How to stay safe around wasps during peak season.

Chris Stanton
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There’s a belief out there that wasps are good for nothing pests that just live to annoy us.

But a local bug expert wants to set the record straight.

“They’re important in pollination. Just like bees, they do pollinate when they visit plants,” explained Kateryn Rochon, assistant professor of entomology at the University of Manitoba. “They are also really important predators, so in that way they do a lot of pest control. If you don’t like caterpillars eating your plants, wasps are really good at eating caterpillars.”

Wasps will sting you, but they usually need to be threatened first.


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“Don’t swat at them. Many wasps have an alarm pheromone, so once one is hit and it releases the pheromone, other wasps will come to help,” Rochon said. “It can get overwhelming if you have a lot of wasps around, especially if you have children. They do live close to us and take advantage of what we give them, so make it harder for them.”

The classic picture of a disruptive wasp is that of a picnic setting. You can’t enjoy your meal because wasps are buzzing about. But there are things you can do to peacefully co-exist with the bugs.

“You should keep everything covered. If wasps don’t find any food, they’ll go away. When one gets a little bit of food, the others are going to come. Another thing you can do is take some high-protein food, put it at the other end of the table, and give an offering to the wasps so that they won’t bother you.”

Yellow jackets and hornets are the most commonly known wasps.

 

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