CSIRO Publishing, 2022
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
The first line asks, “What do you know about wasps?” My answer can be summed up in two sentences …They sting. I avoid them because of a childhood allergic reaction that almost killed me.”
Who knew that there are so many other species apart from the “we’re everywhere” European wasps? That there are over 12 000 “we-have-always-been-here” species found in Australia and they are as critical to our survival because of the work they do as their cousins, the bees.
Beginning with a visual introduction on the endpapers, this beautifully illustrated book introduces the reader to some of the native wasps that thrive in our native gardens and bushlands, the work they do in sustaining both the flora and fauna while maintaining a healthy respect and difference for a creature that can sting and sting again, although unlike the common European wasp, many indigenous species are not aggressive unless provoked.
As summer comes on, and our bushland springs to life with its floral beauty, the wasps will be active again and so this is a beautiful book for younger readers to start to learn more, both from the factual information in the final pages and from the activities suggested in the thorough teaching notes. While there has been an emphasis on protecting and nurturing bees in the environment lately with gardens being established and even bee hotels installed, perhaps it is time to expand the focus and consider what could be done to ensure the preservation of our wasp species as well. Among them, Katrina Germein, Suzanne Houghton and CSIRO Publishing have provided the perfect starting point. (And I know a lot more than when I started!)