11 January 2015

Wasps visit pollinator gardens

European wasps discouraged in Australia
Pollinator gardens are all the fashion as we have become alarmed at the demise of pollinators world-wide. Gardeners are cautioned to not plant pollinator-attracting plants near doors, where children play and where pets rest. 

Insect Identification's site has a page of photos to help clarify what's buzzing. National Geographic says there are 30,000 identified wasps, "Wasps make up an enormously diverse array of insects, with some 30,000 identified species."

The coolest photos I found of wasps is at this link to Nottinghamshire Social Wasps. Not to be missed!

Karl Foord, Extension Educator at the University of  MN posted many photos in his article about wasps visiting his pollinator garden plants at this link.  Click over to read his delightful blog post and photos about various wasp visitors.

Excerpt: "The garden has been continually patrolled by a great black wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus). This wasp is perceived as a black streak that weaves its way around the different plants in the garden searching for prey (photos 2 & 3). It only rarely lands to fuel up on nectar at a Culver's Root plant (Veronicastrum virginicum) seen here with a golden digger wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus) (photo 4). It sometimes hassles other residents. I have seen it touch the back of bumblebees who fly in response but are not harmed. It had an encounter with a hummingbird but both went their separate ways."

Blake Layton wrote a piece for State by State Gardening at this link. He asks if wasps are friends or foes, focusing on paper-wasps.


Layton concludes, "In this case, we viewed the wasps as foes because they were interfering with our research, but most gardeners and farmers consider wasps as friends when they are preying on caterpillar pests. Some organic gardeners and farmers even place special structures in their landscape to encourage wasps to nest there and help control caterpillar pests."


In our Muskogee garden, I've sadly seen them decimate a hatch of butterfly caterpillars and could only sigh, knowing that it was too late to do anything about the cycle of nature.


Larvalbug Bytyes is a wealth of insect information and photos. Jusk click to this link to be impressed.

Galveston TX Master Gardeners call Great Golden digger wasps beneficial insect in their blog entry at this link


Their plea to homeowners to avoid destroying digger wasps concludes, "Unfortunately, homeowners, who have these foraging wasps around their landscape and dig holes in their lawn, usually reach for a can of insecticide. Great Goldens are benign, do not defend their nests, are not aggressive and definitely do more good than harm. Hold that can for a moment and realize that like many other wasps, the Great Golden Digger Wasp is quite beneficial to both gardeners and farmers. So please leave them alone to do their job."

Red wasp at AustinBug.com

Wasp stings hurt as most of us know from personal experience. York County VA blogger, Kathy VanMullekom wrote in this blog entry that "it's screaming time" when they get you.


Her family doctor looked at the swollen bite and said, ""They're usually pretty sore and red for a while. Continue taking an antihistamine, and try putting over-the-counter strength hydrocortisone cream on the area periodically. This should help. Ice is also helpful. You can take Motrin or Aleve as needed for the pain and swelling, also. It should gradually improve." Dr. Kent Willlyard with Tidewater Physicians Multispecialty Group Patrick Henry Family Medicine.


Attack Gardener on the Daily Kos has a great article about all things wasps at this link.


These excerpts will encourage you to click over to the link to read his/her piece of good writing about garden thugs and pollinators: "In years past, when my gardening enthusiasm outran my common sense, I loved to buy new plants with no idea where I would plant them, what conditions they liked or what I might do if they especially liked the conditions I gave them. This led, as you can no doubt imagine, to an eclectic mix of delicate darlings and rabble rousers rubbing shoulders indiscriminately, much as I imagine a Democratic convention must function."

"Mountain mint is one of the best nectar plants for wasps and bees that I have ever seen and I mean that literally. Oh, sure, I have lavender plants all over the place, annuals on every corner, even flowering shrubs, but I have never seen the sheer volume and diversity of pollinators in one place as I've seen on this plant.
Paper wasp nest
Here's a sampling of the flying population I found in my mint patch. Mind you, my pictures are only showing individuals. With one exception, the honeybee, there would be multiples of every one of these, every day. The sound of buzzing wings alone was amazing!"

I had to remove a wasp nest from the vegetable garden a couple of summers ago and it made me sad that some died. But, after three swollen stings I had to take action.








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