We don’t seem to have a shortage of wasps where we live. Almost every building and house have mud and paper nests adorning the eves and other protected areas.

After years of being neighbors to these ill-tempered pests, I realized that I’ve yet to see one eat anything. They’re always picking up mud and water or chewing up wood for making nests and terrorizing people, but that’s all I ever see them do.

Do they eat? If so, what? What are they good for?

They’re not too hard to get rid of with the new wasp sprays that shoot 20’ or so. All you have to do is wait until evening when they return to their nests and blast ‘em. They don’t fly at night for some reason. They aren’t real bright either (thank goodness).

I do know that as Summer progresses and as Fall nears, wasps become much more aggressive and will attack with little or no provocation.

So, let’s hear about wasps.

Dr. Strangemind

Wasps, like bees, eat nectar, gathering pollen in the process. (You’ve never been near a flowering tree or bush, such as vicary, when it was in blossom?) This explains their fondness for hanging around people drinking soft drinks in the summer.

Given the current crisis in bee-keeping due to the mites that have destroyed so many colonies, it would be well to back off on killing wasps so freely, as they are the ones who may be solely responsible for the pollination of fruit-bearing trees (and number of grain-type crops) if we cannot control the bee/mite issue.

A number of wasps also prey on pest caterpillars, embedding their eggs in the larva, (a la Alien), so that the young have ready food when they hatch.

Contrary to your premise, I have found few wasps to be ill-tempered. Their cousins the hornets are, indeed, very easily riled, but the typical wasp (having a narrow “wasp-waist” to distingusih it from the thick-waisted hornets) is rarely aggressive. I routinely move them out of my house with a glass and an index card or magazine renewal insert card.

I heard that wasp nests don’t survive the winter and as winter nears and the food supply dwindles, anarchy breaks out in the nest, the queen goes off to hibernate until spring and starts over. Sounds rather chaotic and inefficient; why cant/don’t wasps store food like bees do?

Some wasps do have nests that survive the winter, but most don’t (yellowjackets - which we just call ‘wasps’ in the UK construct nests that are largely annual).

They feed on pollen, other insects (particularly soft-bodied things like caterpillars) and decaying fruit, they will also, of course, welcome the opportunity to feed on any sugary foods that humans happen to provide.

The survival strategy of wasps is similar to that of annual plants; devote all energy towards reproduction in as short a space of time as possible; at the end of the season, the nest will produce many new queens which will fly off and overwinter, the surviving ones starting a new nest each in the spring.

Oh Jesus…I’ve definitely been having to much English classes about US politics.

When I opened the thread, I was sure it was about white anglo-saxon protestants, but while reading the OP , this more and more occured to be somewhat strange to me :smack:

Just so we’re clear here…

When I say wasp, I’m thinking what I believe are “paper wasps”. They’re black, fairly large, and in my experience very aggressive…right? They don’t tend to hover, as do the other stinging insects, but move more directly from landing point to landing point.

I was under the impression that these little buggers were strictly predators. I’ve never seen one go near a flower, a spilled soda, or the like. I have, however, been stung without provocation on several occasions.

What I think of as “hornets” (though we call 'em “yellowjackets”) look more like honey bees, but they’re a brighter yellow color. I’m not sure whether these pollinate or not, but they love hanging around garbage cans, sodas, and what have you. Also, I never found them to be particularly aggressive, despite their bad rep.

Some wasps are just downright useful. We order about 40,000 of these things every three weeks in the summer to keep the fly population under control around our horses.

(US)YellowJacket = (UK)Wasp (or common Wasp)

Hornets in the UK are like big murderous orange bastard wasps about the size of your thumb, I think they are pretty much the same in the USA.

Most other wasps in the UK are solitary; I think we have some types of paper wasps, but they are rare.

we have a lot of hornets around our house at this time of year. they sound like jet aircraft when they buzz past your ear!!!
huge things and quite agressive, although i have never been stung by one.
the hornets larvae are meats eaters, and this is why hornets will hover around dead carcasses and they also kill bees, remove the wings, head and abdomen to leave only the tender flying muscles of the thorax for the larvae to eat.
the adults are strictly vegetarians and feed on nectar like bees.
hornets will tend to buzz around things to scare them away, use of their sting is usually a last resort, ie. when they are in danger or when the nest is in danger.

nothing to do with wasps, i know, but i think it cleared up the hornet issue.