Licking bees and pulping trees: The reign of a wasp queen - Kenny Coogan
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Wasps are vital to ecosystems. Sitting at the top of the local invertebrate food chain, wasps keep spiders, mites, centipedes and other insects in check. Wasps consume crop-eating insects, making them particularly helpful for farms and gardens. A few years ago, California invested $1.5 million in parasitic wasps, to help with an insect damaging citrus.
Wasps also pollinate fruits and vegetables and help winemakers by biting into their grapes and jump-starting fermentation. Certain types of fig trees are reliant on wasps. The wasp provides the pollen that the fruit needs to ripen, and the fig provides a home for the wasp offspring.
Scientists are now learning about three valuable peptides found in wasp venom. The hope is that it can be used for therapeutic and biotechnological use. A Brazilian social wasp’s venom (Polybia paulista) has been shown to inhibit multiple forms of cancerous cells such as prostate cancer, bladder cancer and multidrug-resistant leukemic cells.
Next time you see wasp, think before you spray.
Kenny Coogan, the educator of this TED-Ed animation, has admired wasps from afar. Visit his website to learn about food, flowers and farms.
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