Other Pollinators: Wasps


Pollen Wasp Wasps are very important pollinators. Wasps are insects, in the same Order, Hymenoptera, as bees and ants. Wasps lack the body hairs that bees have to carry pollen and so are not as well equipped for carting pollen from flower to flower. There are, however, a few wasp species that do get the job done.

There is a hard-working pollinating group among the wasps, the subfamily Masarinaem also called pollen wasps, that are known to feed nectar and pollen to their young. The Pollen Wasps are not self pollinators, they only carry the pollen and take it to their nests.

Most of their species are brown and black in color. The Pollen Wasp is marked with contrasting patterns of white, red and yellow. Pollen Wasps are considered to have the same size like the yellow jacket wasps. That means they range between (0.25 to 1 mm) in length. But pollen wasps do not have longitudinal folds that most wasps portray while they are resting. The Pollen Wasp also has clubbed antennae that others don’t have. The male Pollen Wasp antennae are elongated than that of the females.

The Pollen Wasp sting when disturbed and their stingers stay lodged in their bodies. Unlike bees and yellow jackets they don’t leave their stinger behind so they are able to sting several times in a row. The Pollen Wasp are not considered to be aggressive and this is evidence by the fact that they rarely sting. But if they sting, it is a painful one.

Some gardeners don’t like Pollen Wasps since they destroy flowers as they look for nectar. The Pollen Wasp also destroy ripen fruits and so in many instances they are eliminated. However, Pollen Wasps are predators of many insects, especially crop eating insects and so can be beneficial to gardeners and farmers.

The Pollen Wasp construct their nests with mud or rather dig burrow in the ground. Just like other wasps, the female Pollen Wasp are the ones responsible for constructing the nests. Usually their nests are built in concealed places especially under the rocks and crevices. But Pollen Wasps build their nests in open places especially on twigs of the trees. In these nests they are multiple individual cells where eggs are laid.

Wasp Anatomy Diagram Pollen and crops are carried to the nest as they continue to provision the cells. In fact they partition their cells using pollen and nectar. After that, the Pollen Wasp lay their eggs and then cover up the nests. Unlike other wasps that feed their larvae with caterpillars, pollen wasps feed theirs with pollen and nectar.

The Pollen Wasp mostly get their nectar from flowers. The Pollen Wasp have a tendency of visiting certain flowers for this purpose. The females are most commonly seen in June, though males emerge later in the year. The Pollen Wasp tend to visit the flowers that females have already visited.

Wasps, like bees, are attracted to certain kinds of plants.

Sweet Fennel

Sweet fennel is an herb with a sweet licorice or anise scent. Small yellow flowers bloom in clusters that attract bees, butterflies and wasps to the garden in the summer. Fennel grows in full sun and thrives in zones 4 to 9. This herb can sometimes reach a height of 6 feet. In cooking, fennel is used to flavor stews, roasts or in place of onion. It's a common ingredient in Mediterranean dishes.

Queen Anne's Lace

This flower is named for the delicate white flower heads that resemble lace. Also known as wild carrot, Queen Anne's lace is related to the common cultivated carrot, and the large tap root is edible, but the leaves can cause skin irritation. Queen Anne's lace grows to 4 feet tall and can be found all over the United States, growing wild in ditches or dry fields. The flowers bloom from early spring into the fall and can often be seen with buzzing bees and insects, including wasps, which feed on other insects.

Yarrow

Growing to 36 inches tall, yarrow is a perennial with large clusters of flowers that bloom in shades of yellow, pink or white. Yarrow is a tough plant, growing from zones 3 to 10 in full sun. It's drought resistant and quite invasive if left alone. The leaves and flowers of yarrow are aromatic. Yarrow has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries as an antiseptic or to fight against colds and purify the blood.

Spearmint

Wasps are attracted to the spearmint plant because of the myriad of other insects attracted to this plant's fuzzy white flower. Spearmint is an herb that is quite invasive, spreading quickly over moist soil. It can be found in most parts of America. The leaves can be dried and used for a refreshing tea, added to salads or used as a garnish. Mint jelly is often made from this plant. Spearmint is also used as a treatment for wasp stings.