The debt we all owe to the humble wasp

Our Great Literary Works Would Not Exist Without Wasps

What is the point of wasps? Is their sole purpose to harass human beings trying to enjoy a nice summer? Good question, says Simon Barnes, and the answer is a resounding “no”. If you’re a gardener, the wasp is your “best friend”. Each kills four million tiny insects – “aphids, rose-killers and tormentors of favourite plants” – every season. Wasps are also terrific pollinators: in parts of China where they’ve eliminated wasps they “have to pollinate fruit trees by hand”. But more than that, wasps have made a huge contribution to human civilisation, responsible for The Spectator, for Hamlet, the Bible and Ulysses. How? Because it was the wasp’s nest, that miraculous straight-walled structure of hexagonal cells, that inspired the Chinese of the Han dynasty (which ended in 220AD) to copy the wasps’ technique and develop man-made paper. So yes, wasps can be a nuisance in late summer when, in desperate search of sugar, they ruin your picnic. But we owe them a huge debt. “It’s really high time we started loving the bloody things.”

About starrywazzoh

I'm a birder in Western Europe (UK, France & Spain) and Central Asia, with occasional visits elsewhere. Birding is my principal hobby and I dedicate as much time around work and other commitments.
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