‘What’s the point of wasps?’

front coverWe at the Sumner Group encounter this question a lot. Wasps are just useless, painful, and inexplicably determined to ruin your picnic, right? Actually, no! It turns out that wasps are surprisingly important in more ways than you might guess, and we’ve assembled a handy catalogue of reasons why. So next time we’re asked the infamous question by a passing spheksophobe, we’ll be ready with this checklist of reasons to love our flying relations…

 

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Your common garden wasp—lovely though it is—ain’t the only good-looking wasp on the block. Just take a look at some gorgeous parasitoids and you’ll understand what we’re talking about.

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Around the first century BCE, a Chinese eunuch called Cai Lun noticed a paper-wasp assembling a nest in his garden. Inspired, he mulched wood and fishing nets, and ushered in the era of paper—an idea that flowed west via the Silk Road and is arguably responsible for the entire history of the last two millennia…

 

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The third smallest insect in the world – the wasp Megaphragma mymaripenne – is smaller than an amoeba. Its poky brain has thousands of neurones without nuclei – a wonder of neuroscience…

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Our lab uses primitively-eusocial wasps to explore and solve some fascinating enigmas in evolutionary biology. We’re    discovering amazing things about the  genomics underlying complex animal      societies, and shedding light on some spectacular behaviours. Social evolution is at the very heart of modern biology — and for decades studying wasps has    allowed scientists to make truly           remarkable discoveries.

 

To learn more about wasps and our love of them, please click here #WASP LOVE