Wasps are a group of insects that includes social wasps, potter wasps, mason wasps, digger wasps, parasitic wasps and sawflies.
Wasps, along with bees and ants, form the group called Hymenoptera. The most familiar are the social wasps, of which there are 9 UK species. These are the yellow and black or orange and black banded wasps that trouble our summer picnics and barbecues. However, the majority of wasps lead a solitary life. Some sting and immobilise other invertebrates to feed to their larvae. Others, such as the parasitoid wasps, lay eggs directly into the bodies of their hosts.
Wasps play a vital role controlling numbers of more prolific groups of invertebrates, including many pests of plants and commercial crops.
Number of UK species: more than 7,000
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