Wasps deserve to be just as highly valued as other insects, like bees, due to their roles as predators, pollinators, and more, according to a new review paper led by UCL and University of East Anglia researchers.
The study, published in Biological Reviews, compiles evidence from over 500 academic papers to review how roughly 33,000 species of stinging (aculeate) wasps contribute to their ecosystems, and how this can benefit the economy, human health, and society.
Lead author Professor Seirian Sumner (UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, UCL Biosciences) said: "Wasps are one of those insects we love to hate -- and yet bees, which also sting, are prized for pollinating our crops and making honey. In a previous study, we found that the hatred of wasps is largely due to widespread ignorance about the role of wasps in ecosystems, and how they can be beneficial to humans.
"Wasps are understudied relative to other insects like bees, so we are only now starting to properly understand the value and importance of their ecosystem services. Here, we have reviewed the best evidence there is, and found that wasps could be just as valuable as other beloved insects like bees, if only we gave them more of a chance."
The researchers say that wasps could be used as sustainable forms of pest control in developing countries, especially tropical ones, where farmers could bring in populations of a local wasp species with minimal risk to the natural environment. Professor Sumner and colleagues recently published a study finding that common wasp species are effective predators that can manage pests on two high-value crops, maize and sugarcane, in Brazil.
The review also highlights the pollination services provided by wasps. Pollination by insects is vital for agriculture, and its economic importance has been valued at greater than $250 billion (US) per year worldwide.
Read the complete research at www.sciencedaily.com.
Ryan E. Brock, Alessandro Cini, Seirian Sumner. Ecosystem services provided by aculeate wasps. Biological Reviews, 2021; DOI: 10.1111/brv.12719