Wasps are well-known for their tiny waists. The French even describe someone with a very slim waist as having a ‘taille de guêpe’ (a wasp-like waist). Here, London-based Top Dog Pest Control delves deeper into the anatomy of the wasp, to give us a better understanding of these summer pests better.

The Wasp: Head, Thorax and Abdomen

Although there are many different species of wasps throughout the world, certain features are generally always present. Three of those are the head, thorax and abdomen, all of which are covered in a protective hard exoskeleton.

Despite being small, a wasp’s head is made up of several different parts – a pair of antenna, eyes, mandibles and a tiny brain. The antennae assist the wasps in all sensory activity, helping them to see, hear and touch. Eyes come on two forms that are arranged into clusters – compound eyes and simple eyes. Compound eyes are able to form images and detect edges, while simple eyes work well in lower light and react quicker. Although at one stage, wasps would have only had compound eyes, the addition of simple eyes means that their overall sight is better. At the front of the head, wasps also have mandibles that they use for biting and cutting.

Located below the head, the thorax acts as an anchor for six long and fine legs, and the wings. The large forewings sit in front of the hind wings and they are held together with small hooks.

Attached to the thorax by a very narrow waist, the abdomen is home to the majority of the vital organs, and those of female wasps also contain the dreaded stingers. This can be retracted when not being used to paralyse prey or to keep people and other animals away.

Wasps in Flowerless Days

Anyone who has flowers in their London garden will know that they attract wasps during the summer months. But what happened at a time in the past when there weren’t any flowers? Were they no wasps in the Cretacous Period?

Actually, there was, but their diet was much more carnivorous then. Before plants had evolved to produce flowers, the Earth was occupied mainly by coniferous trees, which were overpopulated by many different animal species, including ants, flies and spiders. These provided a good food source for the wasps, as well as benefitting the plants.

Over time, plants evolved to use the high number of resident insects to carry genetic material from plant to plant, very much like wind did. The result was pollination, so plant growth and evolution continued, all thanks to the wasp… and a few other insects. Learn more about the benefits of wasps in our article Wasps Lost to the Bee Limelight!

This article was written by Dean Mannion, Senior Pest Control Technician for Top Dog Pest Control. Top Dog Pest Control provides London wasp control services. 

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