Posts tagged ‘Wasps’

Bees VS. Wasps from UC Berkeley

I came across this guide on how to differentiate between Bees and Wasps.  I have been planting flowers for the past year to attract bees and starting noticing different types of bees.  Lo and behold, possibly half of the ones I was observing were actually wasps.  PS.  Wasps are beneficial insects too, since they eat pests.  I learned quite a lot from this UC Berkeley guide below.  Enjoy!


Bees Vs. Wasps

Many gardeners and other urbanites often refer to bees and wasps interchangeably. As you become familiar with the organisms in your yard environment it is important to learn to distinguish bees and wasps as each of these insect groups has very different lifestyles. Bees are interested almost exclusively in pollen and nectar from your plants, and they are adapted evolutionarily to use these specific plant parts for energy (nectar) and to provision their offspring (pollen plus nectar). Wasps, in contrast, are mostly predatory and visit your garden searching for small prey items like caterpillars. Occasionally, small slender wasps can be observed taking nectar from selected flowers only, for example, from species of Eriogonum (shown at right), the buckwheats. In almost every case, these are beneficial wasps looking for a drink of nectar. They have no interest in the pollen. In fact, they don’t have body parts adapted for pollen transport as do bees.

The yellowjacket wasps (see above photo) are most often confused by urbanites. Yellowjackets are not bees! These wasps are predatory in habit, which means they hunt and feed on other living organisms, mostly other insects. Often, they fly around plants and even land on flowers where they look for prey items such as caterpillars. However, these wasps have also taken a liking to human food, especially meat and soft drinks. You may have already noticed that encounters with yellowjackets usually occur whenever we eat food outside. We can guarantee that you will never see an authentic bee eating a burger or hot dog.

If you study the photos in this website you will begin to be able to distinguish between bees and wasps. Note especially the great amount of fine hair found on almost all bees in contrast to the sparse hair on wasps. It is their hairiness that makes bees so important to pollination and plant reproduction: these hairs are designed to pick up pollen and carry it from one flower to the next.

Finally, as mentioned elsewhere in this website, female bees and female wasps have stingers that are used in defense. Some wasps species also use their stingers to paralyze prey items, which are then used directly for adult food or later for food for their offspring, in the case of social wasps. When close human encounters with bees and wasps occurs, stings may result but this almost always happens when the insect feels threatened. This is even true in the case of the famous Africanized honey bee (or killer bee), which behaves more aggressively than most other bees and wasps in defense of their hives.

“Insects – Let’s Learn to Love Them!”

Today was the first time I attended a gardening class.  Till now, my lessons have been directly from my grandfather or by trial and error.  I’ve got to say that the class was phenomenal!  I learned so much about insects and the benefits of having insects in your garden.  I must say that the class taught by the UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Clara was of excellent quality.  Their expert knowledge and good experience made them stand out as very reliable sources.

The following slideshow pictures were all taken by renound nature photographer Robert Shimmon whom I had the pleasure of meeting today.

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We talked about the balance of nature and how bugs fit in.  Apparently 97% of insects are beneficial.

Two Major Life Cycles

Complete Metamorphosis

Simple Metamorphosis

Egg -> Larva -> Pupa -> Butterfly
  1. Insect hatches from the egg
  2. The insect gets bigger and bigger
  3. Insect might shed its exoskeleton and grow more

  • Butterfly
  • Moth
  • Beetles
  • Flies
  • Ants
  • Bees
  • Wasps

  • Grasshoppers
  • Aphids (can also give live birth)

It’s very helpful to have gloves and a hand lens on hand while you are examining the insects on your plants.

***Predators and Parasites can take care of insects.

  • Predational stages of lady beetles will eat everything.
  • Black beatles are great predators of slugs and snail eggs.
  • Lace wing adults and larva are voracious feeders of aphids
  • Wasps are tremendously beneficial for controlling insect population.
  • Brown eggs near aphids with holes are parasitized.
How to attract beneficial insects?
***Diversity is really important
Insects eat:
  • Nectar for energy (contain carbs and sugar)
  • Pollen for protein
  • Leaves
Daisy like flowers are “landing pads” for bees
Tubular flowers (ex: Fox Gloves)
Tiny little flowers (ex: Alyssum) for small insects
In order to maintain a supply of beneficial insects all year-long, you must have flowers blooming all year-long.
* Don’t be fastidious.  If leaves are falling down, don’t pic them up right away.  There might be eggs beneath them.
* Tolerate insects “chewing” leaves
When is it a problem?
  • Identify that there’s a problem
  • Monitor your plants to see their normal state
  • Can you deal with the problem with mechanical/physical controls?
  • ex: Smash, squish, hose off with water
Biological Solutions
  • You can buy beneficial insects from your garden center but the insects will most likely fly away!
  • You can put a bag over a particular infested plant and release the beneficial insects to feast in the sealed bag.
  • Bacillus Thorengensis (bacterial solution) have no effect on beneficials.
  • Slug O to get rid of snails (skunks and possums might eat them as well)
  • Tangle Foot
Special Slug Solution Recipe given by our Master Gardener instructor
2 Cups of water
2 Tbs of sugar
2 Tbs of bread baking yeast
  • Place your terracotta pots upside down
  • All snails will go in because it’s dark and moist
  • You can just throw them away.
Final resort….Insecticides
Make sure to follow the instructions carefully!
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