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Bees and Wasps (part 2)

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280235.  Tue Feb 19, 2008 6:36 am Reply with quote

If we could eliminate all the wasps on the planet, and replace them with the same amount of bees, would there be any sort of ecological disaster ?

if not, can we try and see if this is feasible ???

Is there anything wasps contribute to the planet that bees couldnt ?

280299.  Tue Feb 19, 2008 8:04 am Reply with quote

Considering there are major differences between bees and wasps and that there are differences between different species of wasps, I think it's a given that there'll be an impact, I personally don't know how big though, maybe someone more qualified can give an opinion.

However, you have to remember that many wasps are natural scavengers which is important in any food chain and that some wasps are even omnivorous.

I'm not sure if I'm remembering rightly, but I think I remember reading once that bees are more sensitive to environmental changes than wasps.

280307.  Tue Feb 19, 2008 8:11 am Reply with quote

Incidentally, do you know why wasps have stripes ? Cos dots make them look fat.

280764.  Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:44 pm Reply with quote

You'd think they'd have stripes which run along their bodies, then, rather than around them ;).

280847.  Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:52 pm Reply with quote

Ameena wrote:
You'd think they'd have stripes which run along their bodies, then, rather than around them ;).

Oooh, I don't know. Horizontal stripes *can* look good.

As for the wasps/bees question, while they both belong to the same order (hymenoptera), as has already been said, the function of these two animals is completely different.

Bees have much hairier legs than wasps, which allows them to act as very good vectors for pollination. Wasps, on the other hand, are predators who help to control the population of other insects, such as hornworms which can destroy crops.

280945.  Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:10 pm Reply with quote

I feel I have to defend wasps. They were the first insects to evolve into a collective community and all ants, termites and bees etc are descended from them. Secondly I think hatred of wasps is a very British thing. They sting. they're aggresive and not easily dissuaded from this, which is not quite cricket in the benign world of British wildlife. Also Fig Wasps are particularly interesting.

280989.  Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:38 am Reply with quote

But wasps are evil.

281223.  Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:32 am Reply with quote

But they're not weevils

281405.  Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:37 pm Reply with quote

Wasps are the skinheads of the insect world.

281542.  Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:32 pm Reply with quote

TubewayAndy wrote:
But wasps are evil.

How many times in your life have you been stung by wasps?
I myself have been stung 3 times in my 41 years.
And yet how many times were you bitten last year alone by mosquitos, knats, midges and any other assortment of the varied flys we have in the UK alone!
I know what I hate more!

281563.  Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:51 pm Reply with quote

I don't really recall being bitten by mosquitoes or gnats in the UK. Granted, mosquito bites are annoying, but they just itch a bit, and that's it. Apart from the risk of malaria in tropical zones, they really aren't a problem, certainly not in the UK.

Wasp stings, on the other hurt. A lot. Especially when they sting you on your writers lump on the day of a three hour English exam. (Bastards).

About 6 years ago, scientists thought (see here) that malaria might become a problem in the UK, particularly in estuary areas. As far as I'm aware, there have been no cases of malaria contract in the UK thus far and issue hasn't been raised again, so I'm fairly sure it was a scare-story, but either way, with global warming and things, it is always a possibility, and all it will take is one infected female Anopheles mosquito to make its way into the country.

Interestingly, malaria was present in marshy areas of the UK between the 16th and 19th centuries. Seems interesting to me - I'm just looking into the matter further now...

281602.  Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:38 pm Reply with quote

Probably before the 16th C as well. Chaucer talks of 'an agu', the old spelling for 'ague', the acute fever which is thought to have been malaria. The wetlands of East Anglia would have been an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

281606.  Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:49 pm Reply with quote

I'll investigate properly when we get back to Kent on Friday - there's a book at home which might help - but I've a feeling that malaria was at one time an issue on the Isle of Sheppey as well. For presumably most of the same reasons that East Anglia was prone to it.

281610.  Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:56 pm Reply with quote

There's quite an interesting article here.

The term malaria (literally, "bad air") was first used in the early C19, prior to which it was called ague, marsh fever, or intermittent fever.

It fist became endemic along the coasts and estuaries of South East of England in the 15th Century, and became more prevalent in the 16th Century as world trade increased. It was also found in the areas of the Fens, as well as the estuaries and marshland coastal areas of northern England.

Locals in the Fenland areas became addicted to opium from locally grown poppies in an attempt to get rid of the illness, and hostelries also served opium-laced beer, but it was a quinine based treatment, first extracted form the bark of cinchona tree in 1820, which proved most effective.

Anyway, you can read the rest of the article for yourselves. :-P

281615.  Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:19 pm Reply with quote

I've a feeling that malaria was at one time an issue on the Isle of Sheppey as well.

I should imagine so; Romney Marsh, certainly, was fairly well plagued by it. Indeed, here, it states that in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, some parish records thereabouts have more burials than baptisms at times, and that life expectancy was only 25 or 30 (although they were dying of typhoid and dysentry and other things, by way of variety, of course). Young children being, it reckons, particularly at risk of malaria, under 5s accounted for about 40% of all burials on the marsh in this period. South east Kent was mentioned in another article, but I can't think of anywhere obviously marshy round there. Possibly the vicinity of the mighty Wantsum Channel, I suppose.

This article, which I thought quite interesting, casts doubt on the 'malaria re-emerging' idea, on the grounds that the period smiley mentioned, the 16th to 19th centuries, saw considerable malaria during what is often called "The Little Ice Age". That said, another article (not generally accessible, and thus not linked to) reckons that climate did, nonetheless, play a part in the extinction of the disease in this country.

I was surprised to read that malaria got as far north as Scandinavia, though.


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