I’ve been intrigued lately to watch wasps busily investigating my kale. I wonder, I thought, do they possibly eat caterpillars? Surely that would be too good to be true.
However, a short trip to buglife later, and I was reassured that they do, indeed, prey on caterpillars. They don’t eat them themselves, but the wiggly green darlings provide protein which adult wasps feed to their larvae. Wasps also prey on aphids for the same reason.
OK. So I’m happy with wasps around my kale, and lots of them is fine.
Later, I was looking at my crab apple. It kind of needs a haircut:
As I looked more closely, I observed ants running up and down the trunk. I looked up to see where they were going, and realised that the ants are farming aphids on the tender new shoots at the top of the tree. The ‘straggly hair’ is an aphid farm. And busily hunting around this aphid farm are …
… more wasps. So the ants are farming food that benefits not just them, but also the local wasp population. And wasps are good, because they look after my kale.
So I’m not going to prune my shaggy crab apple just yet. She’s busy hosting a fascinating little ecosystem, and I can tidy her up later.