In the new study, scientists gathered data from more than 500 scientific papers to look at how 33,000 stinging wasp species are contributing to the ecosystem and economy.
We used to hate wasps and love bees, as the latter pollinate crops and produce honey. However, this division is due to ignorance of the role of wasps in the ecosystem.
Seirian Sumner, professor, and lead author
Wasps are not well understood compared to other insects, but scientists are only beginning to understand their value and importance, the authors say. In new work, they examined the main functions of bees as well as their global role in our life.
Wasps are predators. These insects are biocontrolled and protect crops worth $ 416 billion annually. However, this figure almost completely ignores the wasp contribution.
However, these insects regulate populations of arthropods such as aphids and caterpillars, which damage crops. Solitary wasp species tend to fight a specific pest, and groups of wasps hunt a large number of species at the same time.
Researchers say wasps can be used to control pests in developing countries, especially tropical ones. To do this, farmers need to bring populations of local wasp species to them: this can be done with minimal risk to the environment.
Also, wasps, along with bees, are pollinated. The authors write that they discovered 960 plant species visited by wasps, and 164 of them are completely dependent only on aspen pollination. These were, for example, some types of orchids.
Many wasps are also versatile pollinators that move through a wide variety of plants, so the researchers say they could serve as backup pollinators if the plant loses its native primary pollinator.