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Articles - Issues Of Home Economics:

In April, the Judas tree is a cloud of pink blossom. You can't help noticing it, because the
Young pulmonaria flowers are bright pink. After a few days they turn violet and then vivid blue.
Hazel catkins are worth close inspection, although, if you suffer from pollen allergies, you might
Hamamelis blossom appears in winter, the flowers are delicate bunches of gold or red strands. They
Winter jasmine, as its name implies, flowers in mid-winter – not because of climate change or

Most wasps are harmless

An irritating buzz and everyone is on high alert – there's a wasp! In late August there are a lot of wasps on the wing and most people feel threatened by them. Actually there are only two species of wasp that you might need to worry about. These are the German yellow jacket wasp (Paravespula germanica) and the Common wasp (Paravespula vulgaris), but they've brought the entire wasp family into disrepute. They are far and away the most aggressive wasps in Europe and because, by contrast with other wasp species, they have a distinct preference for meat and sweet foods and beverages, a conflict at the coffee table or round the barbecue is almost inevitable.

Most wasps are harmless and useful

Most wasps never come into conflict with humans. Some feed only on nectar or windfall fruit. Many – including in fact the German and Common wasps – make themselves useful by eating aphids, midges and other pests.

Many wasp species are incapable of stinging

Many wasp species, such as ichneumon flies, have a "sting" that is incapable of penetrating human skin, it's used only to pierce the eggs or bodies of other insects in order to deposit eggs. Ichneumon flies are part of a very large group of parasitoid wasps which lay their eggs in the eggs or bodies of other insects which their young proceed to eat. This behaviour makes some of the wasps ideal as biological pest controls. Ichneumon flies, for instance are used to combat white fly, tobacco white fly and other agricultural and garden pests.

Hornets are far less of a threat than wasps

Hornets are larger than wasps, so they look scarier, but in fact they are far less dangerous. Their poison might cause you to suffer considerable pain, but it's less potent than that of most bee and wasp species. People who are not allergic would have to be stung 500 and 1,000 times to be in a life-threatening situation. And this is highly unlikely to happen, because hornets are peace-loving creatures and not easily provoked – except, naturally, in defence of their nest. They're not interested in steaks or icecream, instead they eat a lot of insect pests. Moreover they're a protected species that is still only gradually recovering from the threat of extinction.


Source: Mascha Schacht, www.aid.de