Wasps: Film and Script

September 11, 2020

I have been working on creating a short educational film on wasps, based on resources from the National Geographic and the London Natural History Museum. Wasps are deeply misunderstood insects, and I hope my film highlights some of their important impacts on our ecosystems. The film is available to watch on my film page, and the script is available to read below.

Script

Towards the end of Summer, tucked away under the fruit trees amongst the litter, we find an animal gorging itself.

Wasps.

The bane of many people’s lives. But these Hymenoptera have fascinating life histories, and important impacts on our ecosystems.

When you google “wasps”, the first word that comes up is “pest” – but this is far from the truth.

There are over 7000 species of wasp in the UK, a mix of solitary, social, and parasitoid wasps; and they are an essential apex predator in our ecosystems. It is estimated that social wasps capture 14 million kilogrammes of insect prey every summer – without wasps, we would be overrun with flies and spiders.

This large amount of insect prey is actually fed to wasp larvae, not the adults themselves, who feed on sucrose and fructose from flowers, honeydew from Aphids, and fruits. When feeding from flowers, wasps become important pollinators – Figs are actually only pollinated by the Fig Wasp.

These wasps in Devon were feeding off decaying apples. Some of the wasps were becoming increasingly drunk off the fermenting fruit.

Some of the wasps become so intoxicated, they don’t make it.

A little further on, a colony of wasps have made their nest underneath a small tree.

These wasps are peeling bark off the tree with their jaws, which they use to make nests.

Interestingly, Paper Wasps have been discovered to be able to remember each other, using their unique facial patternings. This enables them to recognise kin, and avoid aggression and fighting with individuals who they’ve fought before. In particular, it helps maintain the reproductive hierarchy, as individuals behave less aggressively towards those they recognise.

Wasps have smooth stings, meaning they can sting us multiple times, as opposed to honeybees where the stinger is weakly attached to their abdomen, and ripped out upon stinging. But, despite having a reputation for being aggressive, wasps only sting when they feel threatened.

Wasps provide us with valuable ecosystem services, as well as holding together diverse habitats. So, when you’re next out exploring nature, spare a thought for these important insects.