Jasmine shrubs and vines (Jasminus spp.) have tubular-throated yellow, white or pink flowers. More than 2,000 species are known, but only a few are cultivated. The blossoms of some jasmine are sweetly fragrant and others, virtually odorless. Fragrant jasmines attract beneficial insects, including pollinators such as nocturnal moths and wasps, and predators, such as wasp grubs that eat insects and spiders off the jasmine.
The Efficient Hunters
When you see wasps flying low over foliage and grass, they are looking for prey. Paper-making wasps build large gray nests. These beneficial insects prey mostly on plant-eating caterpillars. They generally don't disturb humans. An active colony of paper-making wasps can rid your garden of many insect pests, such as cabbage loopers, corn earworms, hornworms, armyworms and loopers. Adults attack caterpillars, take them to the nest and then chew up bite-sized bits to feed the grub-like baby wasps, so adults get some food from the caterpillars too. In search of prey or a place to build a nest, some types of wasps are attracted to thick foliage and growth, such as that of some shrubby or vining jasmines.
Paper-making wasps and hornets look for wood or plant fibers to use for their building. They scrape the fibers, mix them with saliva, and then spread the mixture out to dry in layers for the nest. Hornets place their papery nests underground within burrows. Other wasps, called mud daubers, look for wet mud to carry to a nesting site to shape into burrow-shaped or pot-shaped dried mud nests. Jasmines don't have plant growth suitable for harvesting fibers for paper-making wasps and hornets. Mud daubers might be attracted to mud in the watering basins of irrigated jasmines, but they are not aggressive while gathering mud. Mud daubers mostly hunt spiders to feed their young.
The Nectar Harvesters
Adult wasps feed on flower nectar and on juices from spoiling fallen fruit. They prefer visiting open flower heads with many small flowers, such as members of the carrot and sunflower families. They also hunt prey on flower heads, so they prefer a sturdy support and a good field of vision, such as found on sunflowers. Jasmines have mostly pendulous, nodding flowers on slender stalks that are hard to perch on. Flowers are tubular, so the nectar is harder to harvest and insect prey have more hiding spaces. Wasps would not be likely to seek out jasmine flowers as a nectar source.
The Jasmine Attraction
Primrose jasmine (Jasminum mesneyi) forms a large, fountaining shrub with showy yellow flowers in late winter and spring in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. It can reach 8 to 10 feet high and wide if left unpruned. The protected area beneath the cascading branches makes good habitat for wasp nests. One of the most fragrant jasmines, pink-and-white flowered pink jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum), grows in USDA zones 8 through 10. The fast-growing vine quickly covers trellises and arbors. Prune pink jasmine annually to prevent thick growth, which attracts nesting wasps. Before pruning, clean your cutting tools and sterilize with a household disinfectant. Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum), when grown closely, can also provide wasp nesting habitat. The deciduous winter jasmine blooms in winter and early spring in USDA zones 6 through 9.
- Aromatic Plants: Vol. 01; Baby P. Skaria
- Los Angeles Times: Jasmine, the Fragrant Harbinger of Spring
- Texas A&M University -- Aggie Horticulture: Beneficials in the Garden: Paper Wasps
- Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service: Paper Wasps, Yellowjackets and Other Stinging Wasps
- Revista Brasileira de Entomologia: The Flower-Visiting Social Wasps
- Floridata: Jasminum Mesnyi
- Monrovia: Pink Jasmine, Jasminum Polyanthum
- Fine Gardening: Winter Jasmine, Jasminum Nudiflorum
- Photo Credit Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images