Creatures that get stung by unfair criticism

  • Video report by ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke

A new study has confirmed what many have long thought - the majority of us much prefer bees to wasps.

Researchers spoke to 750 people in 46 countries and found that "wasps are universally disliked" while bees are much more appreciated.

But the study, published in Ecological Entomology, argued this viewpoint was unfair given the important ecological contribution of both creatures.

Wasps are despised because of their painful stings and habit of hanging around as you dine al fresco - but they also regulate arthropod populations, including insect which transmit human diseases and crop pests.

So what other creatures is there an unjustified negative buzz around? Here are five many of us love to hate.

  • Cockroaches

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They're absolutely the last thing 99% of us want to find crawling around on our kitchen floor or when we walk through the door of where you'll be spending a week on holiday.

The thought - let alone the sight - of them makes most of us shudder.

But they have an important role to play in our ecosystem.

In many places lizards, birds and other animals feed on them. Without cockroaches, some of their numbers would suffer.

Perhaps more importantly, it's thought that they play a vital role in the nitrogen cycle.

Nitrogen is released in their faeces, which is then used by plants when it gets into the soil.

Professor Srini Kambhampati previously told the Huffington Post: "Extinction of cockroaches would have a big impact on forest health and therefore indirectly on all the species that live there.”

So maybe don't be quite so quick to stamp on them.

  • Sharks

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Did they give us nightmares before Jaws? The 1975 film certainly left a mark on many of us the next time we went back in the water.

But Jaws is far from the only film or TV show to blame for reinforcing the stereotype of sharks as man-eaters constantly waiting to strike in the shallows.

And no matter how often people say you're more likely to die from a lightning strike or a firework, sharks remain high on many of our lists of phobias.

As well as not being as dangerous as some of us fear, sharks too play a key role in the food chain, helping to maintain a balance among sea life - something which affects the ocean environment and our fishing industry.

  • Rats

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If you live in a city, you're probably never too far away from a rat.

For a long time, their reputation for spreading disease has put them near the bottom of many people's lists of favourite animals.

This concern stems from them long being blamed for spreading the Black Death, which killed millions of people throughout medieval Europe and Asia.

But a study published earlier this year suggests they may not have been to blame, instead pointing the finger at human parasites like fleas and lice.

There is also a difference between wild rats and pet rats, which come from a long line of rats which have been domesticated by humans - they haven't just been plucked from the streets.

In fact, according to animal charity Blue Cross, pet rats are "clean, intelligent, enjoy human company and make wonderful pets".

So maybe there isn't so much to worry about?

  • Bats

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Another creature to have been stereotyped on screen as lusting after our blood, bats have an important role to play in many environments.

Some bats pollinate flowers, while others keep insect numbers in check.

And bat guano, or faeces, has long been used as a soil fertilizer.

  • Mosquitoes

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OK, admittedly this is quite a hard sell.

Mosquitoes can be the bane of your existence on holiday, causing annoyance at best and potentially deadly diseases like malaria as worst.

But their saving grace is that they are a crucial source of nutrients for other creatures including fish and birds.

Without them, their numbers could fall and our own food sources could be hit.