As the sun comes out and the temperature goes up, inevitably all those people who have spent the winter moaning about the rotten weather find something else to moan about: it’s too hot; you can’t sleep in this muggy weather; bloody wasps are a menace.
The last of these is a common complaint and it annoys me. It is not actually the fact that people don’t like wasps that annoys me, I can kind of understand that: they have a painful sting and can appear to be vindictive little sods. Besides, people can choose to like or dislike whatever they want to.
No, it is the nature of the complaint that bugs me (excuse the pun).
The wasp haters tend to trot out the same kind of complaint, perfectly illustrated by an image that arrived in my Twitter feed earlier in the week.
The image shows a bee on one side with the caption: “Hi friends, I’m a honey bee. I go around pollinating fruit, trees and flowers. No need to be afraid of me, I’m just enjoying the nice summer weather like you”
Alongside was a picture of a wasp with the caption: “Hey there motherfuckers, I’m a fucking wasp, I serve no true purpose in this life except to ruin your fucking day. Come within 3 ft of me and I will sting your ass!”
This annoys me for two reasons:
- It is wrong.
Wasps are not without purpose. They prey on insects which we consider to be garden pests, with a voracious appetite for caterpillars and aphids. And although they don’t make honey, they do feed on nectar and therefore help pollinate plants. They are not as effective at it as bees, but with our current bee population problems we need all the help that we can get. Finally, researchers have recently discovered that wasps carry yeast cells in their guts, carrying them from one season’s grapes to the next: if that doesn’t endear you to wasps I don’t know what will.
And I’m sure they are not actually vindictive: I think it is only us humans who have that trait. They are very defensive, so if they feel under threat, say by stupid people flailing their arms around and trying to swat them out of the sky, then they may well attack., but if you leave them alone they will just go on about their business and ignore you.
- Why should wasps, or anything else for that matter, have a purpose?
This is point that really irritates me. Our human centric view of the world leads us to think that everything should have been put on this planet to serve us, but it is not true.
Wasps have been around since the Jurassic period and, whether we like it or not, they have been evolving not with a view to being useful to us, but with the selfish purpose of improving the chance of their own survival. They have been evolving to be the best wasps that they can be.
This argument reminds me of something I heard a while ago. Man asks god why he created mosquitoes when they serve no purpose but cause a lot of suffering by biting people. God said the man was asking the wrong question: “what you should be asking is why did I create man, and the answer is to feed the mosquitoes”.
If we are going to go around asking what purpose creatures have on this planet, maybe we should take a good look at ourselves first. I’m sure we served a purpose once, helping to balance the natural ecosystem as a major predator, but we have long since outgrown that. Our impact on the planet is now pretty much entirely negative. In fact, if I was a non-human animal, like, say, the wasp, I might go out of my way to inflict as much harm on us as I could!
So there we have it; rant over. Enjoy the summer, and try to give the wasps a break!