Wednesday, April 27th, 2011...5:20 am

How Wasps Can be Beneficial in the Garden

wasps by myriorama

Everyone knows that honey bees or lady bugs are beneficial insects. But there are other beneficial insects in the garden that we often don’t think of as beneficial. These insects may be minor pollinators but the reason they are really beneficial is because they are predators of harmful insects. TheGardenLady is specifically thinking of insects in the wasp family. When people see wasps, they generally are fearful that the wasps will sting them or others on their property. But many of the wasps are so busy going about their work, they won’t sting unless they feel threatened.

There are predatory wasps that attack caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects and parasitic wasps that lay eggs in harmful insects and when the eggs hatch they eat the harmful insects.  See here.

One example of a beneficial wasp is the potter’s wasp which is a predator that gets rid of unwanted caterpillars.  See here.

There are red and black Mason wasps that are minor pollinators and also get rid of unwanted insects like cutworms and cabbage loopers.

This GardenLady had a paper wasp nest built over her front door. Though most people enter my house through the side door, the front door is where the mailbox is located. I worried that these wasps might sting someone, but because paper wasps are beneficial because of their predation on non-beneficial garden pests, I left the nest there the entire summer yet no one was ever stung.

Even my least favorite wasp, the yellow jacket, does beneficial work.  They help by feeding on caterpillars and harmful flies.

People who want to go organic in their garden should rely on the wasp population to help in ridding their garden of unwanted insects. If the wasp nest is in a location where one feels the wasp won’t sting people, let it be

But if one is allergic to the venom of the wasp’s sting or if one fears that the wasp nest is in an area where the wasp might attack people or animals, then one unfortunately does have to get rid of them.

This GardenLady is lucky in that she is not allergic to the sting. But she knows that wasps do not lose their stinger when they sting and can sting repeatedly. A few summers ago there seemed to be a number of yellow jacket nests in the ground near the front of my house and around the neighbors’ property. I had not seen the nests and happened to walk over one of them which was near the front entrance. I was wearing sandals when I stepped on the nest. The yellow jackets were angry and got under my foot to sting repeatedly. It hurt terribly. And later they attacked a painter who was painting the outside of my house. There was no way that I could allow these yellow jackets to have their nests so close to the house. I called in an exterminator. There were so many nests, the exterminator had to return a second time to get rid of all the yellow jackets.

Perhaps you have a wasp nest that you must get rid of but you want to get rid of the wasps on your own and not have the expense of an extermination service. The next post will be about an organic product that is safe to use if you have to get rid of any wasp nest that is in a hazardous location.


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