Attention, spheksophobes: Wasps just want to help.
And Heather Holm wants to help them make their case to gardeners and others.
Ms. Holm, a biologist and pollinator conservationist, knows it’s not an easy sell. But in her recent book, “Wasps: Their Biology, Diversity, and Role as Beneficial Insects and Pollinators of Native Plants,” she asks that we consider wasps — and not just their cousins, the bees — in the plant choices we make and the pollinator-friendly gardens we create.
“If we took wasps out of the equation,” she said, “many of the leaf- and seed-eating insects they prey on would just go unchecked.”
emerald ash borer, a devastating invasive beetle whose wood-boring larvae are infesting and killing large numbers of native ash trees (Fraxinus) throughout the United States. In areas not yet infested by the ash borer, researchers monitor the prey brought back to nests of smoky-winged beetle bandit wasps (Cerceris fumipennis), looking for remains of the borers, which helps them track the pest’s widening dispersal.
choosing native plants is important when you’re creating a habitat that supports beneficial insects, the wasps have an additional request: simple, shallow flowers, please.