Wasps are stinging insects that find themselves in the same family as bees and ants. There are more than 20,000 species of wasps, but the most noticeable thing to the average person is that they seem to come out more regularly during warm summer months. It seems as though a lot of insects come out of nowhere in the heat, and if you have a pool, or are near any body of water big or small, you will notice wasps seem to hover fairly close.
Understanding What and How Wasps Eat
Wasps typically stick to a liquid diet because they are not equipped to eat solid foods. They have a series of tubes that assist in sucking things such as nectar from plants, flowers and water. With the liquid diet, wasps aid in plant pollination much the same way as honey bees. They have mandibles though, helping them to sever wood to build a nest. They also use these jaws for dissecting other little insects into tiny pellets to feed to their young and to ward off other wasps.
For the Love of Water
Wasps are attracted to any source of liquid because it is a source of food and energy. They typically are noticed hovering over water to carefully land and collect liquid in their mandibles to either consume or take back to their nests. To deter wasps from hovering over an area that you regularly use, such as a pool or pond, provide a different water source for them. Put containers of water near your main water source, but far enough away to attract them. A few drops of dish soap will aid in the elimination of unwanted wasps in a specific area. You also can purchase wasp traps at any hardware store.
Don't Get Stung
Most wasps are nonstinging and help the human population by controlling other pests and pollinating flowers, according to National Geographic. While it is impossible for the average person to identify all types on a regular basis, avoiding them is a great idea. If you are stung, however, determine if you are having an allergic reaction. Symptoms include swelling, breathing difficulty, hives or a decrease in blood pressure. If an allergic reaction occurs, consult a medical professional immediately. Otherwise, try to remove the stinger carefully with tweezers, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water and ice it for a few minutes.
Wasps hover over water for the same reason that humans fill up a glass from the tap. They need it to survive. While keeping in mind that wasps help the environment in several ways, remaining aware of your surroundings will help to avoid stings and control the population before it becomes overwhelming.
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Jen Tenenbaum received a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Grand Valley State University in 2004. She started as an intern for NPR and periodically works as a copywriter and blogger. She also has experience as a dog trainer and kennel caretaker.