Mud dauber is a common name for wasps that make their nests with mud. There are many species of wasps referred to as mud dauber’s; some other common names are dirt daubers, organ-pipe wasps, mud wasps and potter wasps. Although their appearance varies, mud daubers generally are from ½ to 1 inch long. Mud daubers are colored either completely black or blue metallic. Some species have yellow or greenish markings on the body. Their body shape is often referred to as “thread-waisted” with some mud daubers possessing an extremely long and thin, stretched out looking body segment located between the thorax and abdomen.
Mud daubers are an interesting insect, especially in the way that they feed their larvae. In the spring, the overwintering pupae develop into adults. The adult females begin building a new nest and after completing the mud nest, they start capturing insects or spiders that are then placed into each mud nest cell. Eggs are deposited on the prey within each cell, and the cell sealed with mud. The larvae that hatch from the eggs feed on the prey left by the adult wasp, and then change into the pupa stage (cocoon) that overwinters. Here is the interesting part, the prey isn’t killed, but stung and paralyzed before being placed into the mud cell. This is crucial because if the prey was dead, it would decompose and then become unsuitable nourishment for required larval development. Adults feed on plant nectar, honeydew and the body fluids of the spiders and insects they capture. At least two species of mud daubers are especially important since they are reported to seek out and capture spiders including black widow spiders!
Mud daubers can actually be very beneficial since they help reduce the numbers of some pest insects and spiders. Also, they are not likely to sting. But remember, it is never smart to approach their nests without using caution. If you’re a “do it yourself-er” scraping off the nest or using a strong stream of water from a garden hose may work, but they still may return. If mud daubers become a problem and keep coming back, be sure to contact your pest management professional for their recommendations and assistance.
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