Turns out those vicious insects are just a bunch of big ol’ softies.

In the insect kingdom there aren’t many who match wasps in terms of pure viciousness and aggression. Unlike pretty butterflies who improve the overall ambiance of nature, or the humble dung beetle whose hard-working nature enriches our soil, wasps’ primary service to the world is killing.

As a result of this career, they also tend to get all up in our faces when bothered, resulting in some painful and even occasionally deadly encounters.

But who could have known that to soothe the savage beasts you’d simply need to employ a tactic used by neglectful husbands since the 1920s: a bouquet of pretty flowers!

Image: Pakutaso

According to research from a Kochi University team led by Professor Kim Chul-sa, the scent of flowers such as roses and cherry blossoms contain phenethyl alcohol (2-phenylethanol) that repels wasps. So, shoving a bunch of these flowers towards an aggressive yellowjacket may effectively soothe the savage beast. That’s a big “may,” however.

A more effective way would be to spritz some concentrated phenethyl alcohol mist at an ornery hornet to make it lose its will to sting. As an added effect, the compound is also said to stop the wasp from emitting a pheromone that calls for back-up from its equally pissed-off friends.

The discovery was made based on a previous finding by Professor Ichikawa Toshihide of Kagawa University that wasps seemed to either love or hate eating the sap of individual sawtooth oak trees. Prof. Kim’s research uncovered that this phenomenon had to do with the levels of phenethyl alcohol in the sap.

Because of its pleasant aroma, phenethyl alcohol is widely used as a perfume for soaps and foods. It’s even used in cigarettes, but it’s doubtful whether these quantities are enough to have any influence on wasps or not. So, don’t go blowing smoke into a wasp’s face while shouting, “Now what sucka?!”

▼ For what it’s worth, Mr. Sato hasn’t been stung by a wasp recently. He hasn’t been asked out on a date either, though.

Image: SoraNews24

Rather, this information is hoped to go towards developing highly effective wasp repellents. We’ll know better how effective they can be when Prof. Kim’s group announces their results at the Japanese Society of Applied Entomology & Zoology Conference in Kagoshima on 26 March.

If we’re really lucky, it can work on a variety of the insects right up to the dreaded giant Asian hornet. But even if not, a future where humans and wasps can coexist just a little more peacefully is a bright one indeed.

Source: Yomiuri Online
Top image: Wikipedia/Richard Bartz, Munich aka Makro Freak, Wikipedia/Alicrescent123 (Edited by SoraNews24)