Club Talks

‘The Trouble Without Wasps’

John C writes:

This evening (14 Jan 2022) we had a truly fascinating and information-packed Zoom talk, The Trouble Without Wasps, by Dr Ian Bedford, a retired entomologist from the John Innes Centre in Norwich: all you ever need to know about wasps – and much more!

I won’t attempt even to summarise what he said, but in discussing gall wasps he reminded me that last autumn we found many oak trees whose leaves were completely covered in Silk Button Spangle Galls. Like many gall wasps, and other insects, the life cycle of the wasps that cause them is complex, and successive generations cause different types of galls. All very mysterious and completely fascinating.

Silk Button Spangle Galls on oak leaf.
Silk Button Galls

The Silk Button Spangle galls are about half a centimetre across and very delicate looking; it’s easy to see how they got their name. According to my book they are caused by the gall wasp Neuroterus numismalis. Heaven knows what biochemistry is actually going on to form them.

Ian Bedford also told us a couple of way for repelling wasps. The first is to either buy an artifical ‘Waspinator’, which is a harmless fake wasps’ nest, or simply to hang up an inflated brown paper bag. Wasps will think that these are the nests of other colonies and leave. The other trick, if wasps are bothering you at, say, a picnic, is ‘The Norfolk Jasper Jab’ which is to make your hand into the shape of Rod Hull’s Emu and jab it towards the wasp, or wasps. They will think it’s a bird or predator and retreat. Apparently it works well!

We’d like to thank Ian Bedford again for a truly fascinating talk.