A bunch of volunteers risked various forms of anaphylaxis out in the country’s woods and fields last year, purposefully looking for and gathering data on wasps as part of the Big Wasp Survey. They put down more than 2,500 wasp traps to see what angry delights they could capture.
In short, there are loads, different types and all, some hairier and some not so hairy, and the survey-runners would like us to start thinking more positively about the poor wasps, as some species are pollinators in their own slightly clumsy ways, plus they are miniature predators that manage populations of other, smaller insects. They are as “ecologically essential” as every tiny member of the massive pyramid scheme of planetary life, they say, and wasps are, like the bees, struggling to compete with humans and our love of building houses and spraying chemicals on all the dandelions.
Dr Seirian Sumner from University College London is one of the leading academics prepared to die on this wasp-strewn hill and be buried in a black and yellow striped jumper, and said: “They’re the maligned insect of the insect world – they’re viewed as the gangsters. Whereas actually we should be viewing them as a beneficial insect, they’re doing us a favour, and we’re just completely overlooking that favour.”