Like all creatures, hornets have their own way of giving back to the environment. Their eating habits benefit humans, and their bodies have curious functions that can lead to great discoveries.
But not all of us see it this way. Some homeowners look at these insects and just see creatures that destroy property and cause uncomfortable stings.
So for those asking Why are hornets important? We’ve come up with a list of all their greatest contributions. Reading this might change the way you see these bugs.
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They control insect populations
Hornets have been regarded by many experts as “beneficial” insects. That’s because their diet helps control the harmful bug population of an area. They need protein to survive. So even though they’re omnivores, they’re also fierce predators that hunt protein-rich insects that cause failing crops and health problems.
Without them, harmful insects like flies, caterpillars and beetles would grow in numbers and inflict significant damage on an area. Caterpillars and beetles, for example, can eat enormous amounts of farm-raised plants that can cost the owner a ton of money. And flies are known to spread bacteria that can lead to serious diseases.
They help pollinate flowers like bees
According to Sciencing.com, bees aren’t the only pollinators around. Hornets also land on flowering plants to sip on their nectar. This causes them to harbor pollen and help in crosspollination and plant reproduction.
It’s also been said that hornets work to pollinate plants to get flowers growing as much as possible. Without them, pollination won’t be as fast and effective. And the flowers won’t flourish as much, affecting the entire food chain.
They carry helpful yeast in their gut
In a post published by the National Public Radio’s website, hornets and paper wasps contribute greatly to wine making.
Yeast is a helpful bacterium that’s used to make bread, beer and wine. Usually, it’s cultured in a controlled environment. But the kind that’s found inside hornets and wasps is called wild yeast.
Wild yeast or Saccharomyces cerevisiae occurs naturally inside the hornet’s and wasp’s guts. The bacteria live in there all year round, even surviving the tough winter months inside the hibernating queen. They’re then spread around when the queen starts a new colony during spring. She regurgitates food to feed her grubs, unintentionally passing the yeast to a new generation of hornets/ paper wasps.
When these insects bite on late season grapes, they unintentionally spread the yeast. It then kick-starts the fermentation process, even though the fruits are still on their vines. So winemakers would harvest grapes that have already begun to develop rich and robust flavors for their wine.
They have “solar powered skin” that can help with energy projects
Yes, it does sound odd. But it’s a wonderful truth that can benefit us in the future.
While it’s still not clear why oriental hornets need electricity, it’s been proven that they can produce tiny amounts of it using their abdomen. The thick yellow strip at the end of their body is actually a tissue that can trap light while the brown tissues next to it generate the electricity.
This all sounds a little bit ridiculous, but it could open up plenty of possibilities for cutting-edge energy projects. Finding out how these tissues work can lead to energy cells using the hornet’s pigments. And if we’ve been coming up with bacteria and plant powered energy cells, energy from animals is not all entirely farfetched.
Despite their many benefits, hornets can become a nuisance when they come in contact with humans. They’re even considered as pests. But before you think of ways to get rid of them, you might want to weight the pros and cons a bit. And ask yourself, "Why are hornets important?" There are plenty of humane ways to deal with these insects.