WASPS

A recent micro-biology on parasitic wasps reminded me that long ago had wanted to discuss aspects about wasp edibility. Anyone interested in parasitic insects should search for J. Henzy's "Need Protection? Hire a Virus" recently posted on the always intriguing "Small Things Considered" hosted by amblog.org

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  • (2011) "Edible Insects as part of the traditional food system of the Popolaca ....." in J. Ethnobiology 31(1) available as free full pdf on-line describes how after the contents of wasp nests are eaten the fabric is burned with garlic,basil, myrtle & rue to create smoke that purges both long abandoned & new dwellings.

    Harvesting of occupied wasp nests for edible content is timed for between the moon's last quarter & when waning to maximize tender larvae & "honey" content collected; if timed differently get late instar larvae &/or pupae with sparse " honey". The larvae are dry toasted on both sides after wasp nest " honey" extracted.

  • Edit: 1st post should read asmblog.org (for American Society for Microbiology which started sponsoring the renown microbiologist Moselio Schaechter collaboration Small Things Considered in 2006)

  • Protein content of wasp larvae/pupae is quite high. An analysis of 6 different wasp varieties found protein ranged from 58 - 46%. Their average protein = 53% with 45% of that protein being amino acids. Of that amino acid content 37% are among the 7 kinds of amino acids essential to humans

  • Wasp adults baked into rice crackers are being sold in Japan. For good pictures see "Japanese wasp-filled crackers; their sting is far worse than a bite" in site en.rocketnews24.com

  • Hornets are a type of wasp. Decades ago Japan researcher Takashi began testing local hornet Vespa mandarina saliva for non-venemous compounds.

    This led to determining wasp saliva's unique amino acid profile has potential for contributing to the burning of fat for fueling activity. Trials on rats forced to swim provided encouraging data & over the years commercial products marketed to humans have been offered. I wish to point out that extrapolating from rat's forced to swim or drown are not to be interpreted as significant proof of human utility.

    The product line "VESPA" evolved from wasp saliva amino acids & then laboratory mix of the exact same amino acid ratio came into production for sale as "VAAM". Naturally occurring wasp venomous compounds are bradykinin-like peptides, mastoparan peptides & chemo-tactic peptides. If use very young baby-like wasps (have less irritants in saliva to seaparate) placed on a glass collection plate & stimulate them for 10 seconds with 6 volts AC their venom secretes onto the glass; although am not sure this is part of the commercial product's extraction methodology.

  • Edit: last sentence replace word "venom" with word saliva

  • Wasp venom component research has looked for beneficial human applications. By mid 2000 published studies led to investigating it's therapeutic potential for some cancer cell lines.

    A strong proof of how mastoparan could work came when (2008) it was demonstrated moving into the cancer cell power factory (mitochondria) where it led to ion channel changes that forced the mitochondria membrane to become permiable. Then the molecule (cyto-chrome c) integral to starting programmed cell death (apoptosis) moves out of the mitochondria into the cancer cell's cytoplasm.

    This experimental decrease in cancer cell survival utilizing wasp venom component mastoparan has been difficult to adapt for living organisms. For recent (2015) orientation see the 3rd section detailing mastoparan in Moreno & Giralt's "Three valuable peptides from bee & wasp venoms for theraputic & biotechonological uses ..." published in journal "Toxins", 7(4) available on-line as free full text.

  • Wasp venom has components (peptides) that are anti-microbial. The easiest situation to see why is for those wasp larvae that feed on a victim (host) & the anti-microbial peptide keeps microbes from attacking the vulnerable wasp larvae. Both solitary & social kinds of wasps have been investigated for mastoparan family anti-microbial peptides. For example the solitary wasp Anoplius samariensis anti-microbial is being called anapolin if anyone wants good lead for relevant on-line search.

    It seems these wasp venom carried peptides instigate microbial membranes to become permiable (akin to how cancer mitochondria's membranes react, as per previous comment). The range of susceptible microbes seems to be significant entities like Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa & fungi.

    Although not the only kind of wasp whose anti-microbe is being researched some interesting solitary wasps have been experimented with . One team found that catheters pre-treated with a wasp anti-microbial (anapolin) subsequently were kept free of microbes after being inserted & were not susceptible to bio-film forming on the catheter. Another sucessful trial was to use solitary wasp venom's anti-microbial peptide to treat osteo-myelitis.

  • Wasp creates cockroach into zombie: (2010) "A wasp manipulates neuronal activity in ... it's cockroach prey"; free full text (if link not working please reply)= plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0010019

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