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Why we love bees and hate wasps

Sumner, S; Law, G; Cini, A; (2018) Why we love bees and hate wasps. Ecological Entomology , 43 pp. 836-845. 10.1111/een.12676. Green open access

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Abstract

1. Bees and wasps are important facets of natural capital to be valued by human societies: bees pollinate wild flowers and agricultural crops; wasps regulate arthropod populations, including insect vectors of human diseases and crop pests. Despite the importance of both taxa, bees are universally loved whilst wasps are universally despised. This study explores some of the reasons behind this. 2. Here data are presented from almost 750 members of the public on their perceptions of insects, including bees and wasps. In addition, an analysis is conducted of researcher effort on bees and wasps, using publication numbers of peer-reviewed papers over the last 37 years, and unpublished conference proceedings at specialist international conferences over the last 16 years. 3. The results show that wasps are indeed universally disliked by the public and moreover are unpopular research taxa among researchers. Words used to describe wasps are emotive and negative, whilst those describing bees are functional and positive. A low level of interest in nature and a lack of knowledge (among the public) and research effort (among scientists) regarding the ecosystem services of wasps are likely to be at the root of the negative perception. Whilst the ecosystem services of bees are well understood by the public, those provided by wasps are poorly understood. 4. Positive action to promote research on wasps and to overhaul the public image of wasps via outreach and the media could help to reset the imbalance in appreciation of two of the world's most ecologically important taxa. Cultural shifts to a more positive attitude towards wasps could be pivotal in working with these facets of natural capital, rather than against them.

Type: Article
Title: Why we love bees and hate wasps
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/een.12676
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/een.126766
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Ecological Entomology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Entomological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: aculeate wasps, ecosystem services, pest control, pollinators, social insects
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10057359
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