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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Another reason to appreciate bees & wasps in grapes

At last Friday's vineyard tour, one of the most common insect questions I get from grape growers again came up. "What can I do about wasps and (less commonly) bees in my grapes?"

My feelings are clear on this subject. I think there is little to be gained from using insecticides against these mostly beneficial insects and significant harm that could be done, both through extending your harvest window and by harming predators and pollinators.  You can read my thoughts on this subject and what growers can do instead of spraying, here.

Today, I read about an even better reason to appreciate wasps, in particular, in your vineyard.  NPR's The Salt blog highlights research from Italy that demonstrates that wasps move wine-fermenting yeasts throughout vineyards and have likely contributed to the evolution of these important yeasts.  You can find the full article here.

More information
What to watch for - Bees and wasps in grapes
Thank the simple wasp for that complex glass of wine - The Salt
Role of social wasps in Sacromyces cerevisiae ecology and evolution - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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