Aposematism and the Neighborhood Pest Complex

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Any backyard adventure can introduce you to the ecological phenomenon known as aposematism. Aposematism is the occurrence of bright coloring on an organism that is also harmful. Brilliant orange Monarch butterflies or vivid yellow striped wasps are using their warning colors to remind you not to touch or eat them. Organisms evolved in this way so that possible predators only have to encounter the bright colors once and suffer a stomachache (from consuming) or a sting, and remember not to bother that organism again.

A common example of aposematism is an insect is known as the yellow jacket, which is actually a group of social wasps all in the insect family Vespidae. Often insects in this group are considered to be pests due to their frequent nesting near human dwellings and their tendency to sting when disturbed.

Most of these wasp species aggressively defend their nests, but will not sting while away from the nest. That being said, it is well known that in the unfortunate event that a wasp ends up in your soda can you will probably be stung in one of the most brutal ways possible.

While honeybees are also stinging insects (and are colored yellow and black accordingly), they are not nearly as aggressive as the yellow jacket group. Both of these groups of social hive-forming insects really only need to be removed from residential areas if someone who is allergic lives in the vicinity. The best option for the extermination of a hive is to call your local pest control professional.

To throw another wrench in this whole ordeal, many insects will actually mimic the warning colors of the wasps and bees so that predators think they’re venomous, but actually they’re completely harmless. This is something to keep in mind when you’re assessing whether or not you have an insect pest problem. As mentioned before, a pest control professional will be able to identify the insects you’re worried about and form a plan on how to move forward.

WASP
BEE

 

Source: en.wikipedia.org & medinabeekeepers.org

Mappes, J., N. Marples, and J. A. Endler. 2005. The complex business of survival by aposematism. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 20: 598–603.

Müller, U. R., N. Johansen, A. B. Petersen, J. Fromberg-Nielsen, and G. Haeberli. 2009. Hymenoptera venom allergy: analysis of double positivity to honey bee and Vespula venom by estimation of IgE antibodies to species-specific major allergens Api m1 and Ves v5. Allergy. 64: 543–548.

 

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