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Wasps do not have a bad mood!

They show up uninvited to the summer party, press forward at the Buffet and poisonously jeer, if one tells them off. How wasps resemble man.

tired wasp
Picture by T. Micke

If one wants to learn to get along with it better, one should know, which pretensions regarding life a wasp has, so the Viennese zoologist Professor Manfred Walzl: "Then one determines, that it are actually the same things as with human beings: live, nourish themselves and to spawn."

Concerning nutrition it is above all sweet juices, which full growth wasps prefer as "flight fuel", because they do not ingest solid food. If they still behave like overloaded transport helicopters towing enormous cake crumbs or use their strong biting tools to saw whole corners from the breakfast extra sausage, then it is for the dear small ones, which at home scratch hungry with the toothy pegs at the cell walls of the wasp nest.

"Wasps are mad on everything man has a sweet tooth on either", explains Professor Walzl. "That means everything that contains sugars and in addition also meat and beer. They like the alcohol and the malt in it. A wasp becomes aggressive, if somebody breaths on it with an alcohol flag." Also in that point it is thus very similar to human beings...

Wasps use their sting mainly, to benumb- mostly harmful insects such as bed bugs, lice or cockroaches – their prey. "They would never be the first to sting human beings. Because in contrast to man they are unbiased and must economize with their poison ", so Professor Walzl.

"Large animals" like man are only attacked if wasps feel threatened. For example if one strikes after them in panic and thereby possibly foments them against the seat neighbor. Thereupon the beasties change their frequency of the flapping of their wings and thus send an alert, which calls other wasps.

desperate wasp
Picture by T. Micke

Manfred Walzl: "If one does not become hysterical in a confrontation with a wasp that is already very good. They should only be shone away with slow movements." The same applies by the way also to hornets, which are generally considered as more good-natured than their small yellow relatives. Summers, in which wasps are more aggressive as usually, do not exist according the expert: "Wasps do not have a bad mood. Compared to warm weather they are only less active during cool weather, and additionally they feel also the electrical loading of air, if a thunderstorm threatens." What is not much known: In contrary to bees wasps also keep flying when it rains. The water drops do not so easily penetrate through the protection hair and they are therefore important for the blossom pollination during rainy weather.

Fascinating and not threatening, how they are often conceived by humans, are also the nests of the social wasps from Southeast Asia. Here man can learn a lot regarding architecture. Professor Walzl: "By the use of a hexagonal building method of cells, much material is saved, because each wall can be used for adjoining cells of a honeycomb. All-around is a complicated developed sheath with a ventilation system, which only shows weaknesses during blazing heat and calm." Then the female workers drag water droplets into the nest and by striking the wings as living ventilators produce evaporative cold.

Every single wasp nest is only being used once for hygienically reasons, because bacteria and fungal accumulate and thus at the end of the year, if all wasps with the exception of the flown out queens died, can be removed unconsidered. The animals are as sober as humans in their "one-way municipality buildings" and use their own closet, in order not to soil their home.

Further amazing details, researchers have found out: While building their nests wasps orient themselves on the magnetic field of the earth. Each day they only sleep two to three hours and do this by turns, in order to feed the larvae and guard the entrances. Thanks to their efficient eyes they can fly at night either, whilst nearly complete darkness, with up to 33 km/h.

Professor Walzl occasionally astonishes his students in autumn, by catching wasps, without being stung. The trick: "In autumn the males come to the world. They have no sting and are exclusively needed for the reproduction. They are only to be recognized by their feelers, which are not broken, but easily curved, and by their dumpy backside." – Likewise as the human being.

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© A report by Tobias Micke (10-07-05) – Contact