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Wasps are actually extremely beneficial to humans. Wasps prey upon almost every insect species on earth either for food or as a host for its parasitic larvae. Wasps are so good at controlling pest populations that the agriculture industry now regularly deploys them to protect crops.
Paper wasps are known by that name because build their nests out of paper they make from chewing up wood. Paper wasps carry caterpillars and leaf beetle larvae back to their nests and chew up those nuisance insects in order to feed their wasp babies.
Parasitic wasps do not sting like paper wasps. Parasitic wasps use their stinger to lay eggs inside other insects like spiders and caterpillars and can sting if threatened or handled. Parasitic wasps can fly indoors or get carried in with firewood but are not aggressive toward humans unless they feel threatened.
Hornworms are the most common pest on which the parasitic wasps lay their eggs. The larvae form cocoons outside the host’s body, which destroy them and the great damage these insects can make to your tomato plants. If you find a hornworm on your tomato plant with little white pieces on it that look like rice, don’t panic! That means the wasp has already laid its eggs and the larvae is slowly killing the hornworm in the process.
You may see the hornworm or other insect still moving even with the larvae attached to it but at this point it has stopped eating, so it’s best to leave it alone.
These wasps kill the hornworms when they emerge from the cocoons and will seek out other hornworms to parasitize, according to University of Minnesota Extension Service (UMES).
How to attract wasps to your garden
- Grow plants that wasps enjoy like angelica, chervil, coriander, dill or fennel.
- Wasps also like a water source like a bird bath or shallow spot with a perch on the side that is not wet. Also keep water free of mosquitos.
- Do not use insecticide on your garden, for obvious reasons.
We may like the benefits of wasps taking care of the insects in our gardens and yards, but that doesn’t mean we want them flying around our children and pets. Here are some great Natural Wasp Repellent Tips to keep them away while we are outside without destroying their habitat.