WASPS HAVE A PURPOSE–DESPITE CAUSING PAIN

Mud-Dauberby Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent

I respect the fact that wasps can sting when threatened or disturbed. But I also respect the fact that they are beneficial.

Every time I’ve been stung by wasps, I accidentally disturbed a nest that I didn’t know was there or I intentionally disturbed the nest and paid the price. I think you can understand accidentally disturbing a nest while pruning a hedge with a wasp nest hidden inside. However, you may not understand boys throwing rocks at a nest, only to see who had the nerve to stay in place the longest.

Paper Wasps
Paper wasps, common in Florida, frequently construct and attach their paper-like nests to building eaves or ceilings of porches. The adults seek out caterpillars, which they sting and paralyze. They then take the caterpillars back to their nest and place them in individual cells as food for the developing larvae.

I’ve witnessed the paper wasp as it stings and carries away a caterpillar from my vegetable garden. These busy insects are doing us gardeners a favor by reducing the population of caterpillars in our landscape and gardens.

Mud Daubers


There are other beneficial wasps in Florida. Mud daubers, for example, build mud-like nests on the sides of buildings close to human activity. The mud dauber is not as aggressive as the paper wasp; it rarely stings people. It stings and paralyzes spiders.

The mud dauber lays an egg on each paralyzed spider and seals it inside a chamber in its earthen nest. Upon hatching, the wasp larva feeds on the spider’s body. An emergence hole is made as the young wasp leaves the mud nest.

It may not be wise to tolerate all wasp species loving in close proximity to your home. Although yellow jackets, a type of wasp, could be considered beneficial, they are too aggressive and too likely to repeatedly sting to have as close neighbors.

I also would be concerned with any type of wasp or bee nest existing in close proximity to individuals with a known allergy to insect stings.

The point of all this? Just because an insect can sting doe snot make it all bad. It may serve a beneficial purpose.

But you’ll have to decide for yourself how close you’re willing for them to live to where you are. The front porch may be too close.

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This entry was posted in Bees, Extension Articles, Insects, Larry Williams' Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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