Friend or Foe?

ImageHow many of you felt a familiar chill when you saw the first picture? We are taught from a young age to loath paper wasps but they provide a beneficial service in the garden. Did you know that paper wasps hunt corn earworms, hornworks, loopers and armyworms? If you have a caterpillar infestation in your garden, a few paper wasps are more efficient, and safer around food crops, than most chemicals. Paper wasps hunt caterpillars to feed to their young back in the nest. If you destroy a paper wasp nest, you are removing a naturally occurring predator of many pests. They will multiply without these predators and you will have to spray toxic chemicals more frequently.Image

Sadly, they have a bad reputation because it is difficult for most people to differentiate between a paper wasp and hornet. Paper wasps are not aggressive and rarely sting unless they feel threatened. I think hornets are sadists with wings. They enjoy biting and stinging anything that moves. Look at image 2 for a close-up of a yellow jacket (the yellow one). Please think twice about spraying a paper wasp nest. Unless it is in a high traffic area, they shouldn’t cause any problems and you might have fewer caterpillars eating your roses and vegetables. Think before you spray.

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