Wasps ‘could be as valuable as bees if we give them a chance’ | UK news
Research suggests that wasps could be just as valuable as bees for their contribution to ecosystems.
The study in Biological Reviews was based on more than 500 scientific papers examining how 33,000 species of stinging wasps contribute to their ecosystems and how this benefits people and the economy.
It has been found that wasps can be used as pest control in developing countries with minimal risk to the environment. They regulate populations of arthropods such as aphids and caterpillars that damage crops.
Wasps are skilled pollinators and insect pollination is vital to agriculture. Their importance to the economy amounts to more than USD 250 billion per year worldwide.
Wasps can also be useful for medication – their venom and saliva have antibiotic properties, and the yellow jacket wasp venom has potential for treating cancer.
Wasps can even be a valuable source of food – their larvae are already harvested for food in some countries.
The study’s lead author, Prof. Seirian Sumner of UCL’s Center for Biodiversity and Environmental Research, said, “Wasps are one of the insects we love to hate, yet bees – which also sting – are used to pollinate our plants and make them Honey appreciated.
‘In a previous study, we found that hatred of wasps is largely due to widespread ignorance about the role of wasps in ecosystems and how they can be of benefit to humans.
“Wasps are under-discussed compared to other insects like bees, so we are only now beginning to fully understand the value and importance of their ecosystem services.
“Here we have reviewed the best of evidence and determined that wasps could be as valuable as other beloved insects like bees, if only we gave them a bigger chance.”
Ryan Brock of the University of East Anglia’s School of Biological Sciences added, “Along with other insects, many wasp species are declining due to factors such as climate change and habitat loss.
“Therefore, there is an urgent need to address their conservation and ensure that habitats continue to benefit from the wasps’ extensive ecosystem services.”