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Contrary to popular belief, the wasp is not an insect, but a family of several flying individuals with venomous stings.

Characteristics of wasps

The wasp is a group of flying insects, whose main characteristic is its black and yellow striped abdomen. Another criterion for recognizing a wasp is its venomous stinger, which only females have.

In common language, the wasp represents the Vespula, either the common wasp or the Germanic wasp which are the two most widespread species in France. Its sting causes a blister as well as variable pain. It is not very appreciated, because its usefulness is not proven, unlike bees which produce honey and pollinate plantations. However, its thin waist gave rise to the expression “wasp waist” in French.

The common wasp measures between 10 and 19 mm (the smallest measures 0.139 mm, it is the Dicopomorpha Echmepterygis). Their articulated head is topped with two antennae and reveals two mandibles. Their thorax is supported by 6 legs and 4 wings are attached to it. The abdomen is the most prominent part of their body. It ends with a stinger.

Wasps feed on sugars available in nature (fruits, honeydew, plant juices, etc.). Some predatory species enjoy human food and can be scavengers.

The different families of wasps

There are two families of wasps.

Social wasps

These are the insects of the family Vespidae which only include the subfamilies of this category, as well as the Polistinae, with the exception of Masarinae and Eumeninae which are solitary.

They live in annual colonies which are formed in spring by the queen. Their nest is a group of cells made up of wood and saliva.

Solitary wasps

In this family, we find all the individuals living alone. Three main species emerge:

nosy wasps which represent 9,000 species across the globe and build their nests in cavities or in the ground. They feed their young with live insects that they hunt; the pompiles which feed their larvae with spiders and dig a burrow for their offspring; mason wasps (or potter wasps) which form nests with a mixture of saliva and clay, sand or mud depending on the species. They feed their larvae with spiders, weevil larvae or caterpillars which they paralyze with their venom. How are wasps useful?

Wasps are real predators, whose usefulness is often unknown. They help limit the proliferation of certain harmful insects such as mosquitoes or crop pests.

However, wasp nests can represent a danger to humans, hence the importance of neutralizing them using a wasp killer. It is advisable to wait until dusk to act, because this is the moment when, due to the coolness, the activity of the wasps is slowed down. In the event of a large colony, the intervention of a professional is strongly recommended.

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