Mud Dauber Wasps

Facts, Identification, & Control

Scientific Name

Family Sphecidae & Crabronidae

Appearance

What Do They Look Like?

picture of a mud dauber
  • Size: Mud daubers size generally measure from 1/2 to 1 inch long.
  • Body: The body shape is typically “thread-waisted” with some mud daubers possessing an extremely long and thin, stretched out body segment located between the thorax and abdomen.
  • Color: Mud daubers are colored either completely black or blue metallic. Some species have yellow or greenish markings on the body.

How Did I Get Mud Dauber Wasps?

These wasps nest in and around houses, sheds, or barns. They also inhabit furniture voids, so damaged outdoor furnishings may cause problems. High populations of caterpillars and spiders attract predatory mud daubers as well.

Monitoring home foundations can also help to avoid problems with many types of wasps. These pests build their nests from mud, so proper drainage will reduce conditions that invite mud daubers to nest on or near the base of homes. Foundation cracks may also harbor their prey or allow the pests entry.

How Serious Are Mud Dauber Wasps?

Mud dauber wasps are not aggressive and do not defend their nests like yellow jackets or hornets. The pests may sting, but chances are low. These wasps use venom to paralyze prey rather than for defense, so attacks are mild and those who do experience stings usually only report slight pain.

At least two species of mud daubers are especially important since they are reported to seek out and capture black widow spiders.

How Do I Get Rid of Mud Daubers?

What Orkin Does
Your local Orkin technician is trained to help manage mud daubers and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep mud daubers in their place…out of your home, or business.


Behavior, Diet, & Habits

Mud dauber is a common name for wasps that make their brood nests with mud. There are many species of wasps referred to as mud daubers, some other common names are:

  • Dirt daubers
  • Mud wasps
  • Organ-pipe wasps
  • Potter wasps

What Do They Eat?
Adults feed on plant nectar, honeydew, and bodily fluids of the spiders and insects they capture. The larvae feed on the captured prey that is deposited into the mud nest cells by the adults.

Prey are stung and paralyzed, not killed, before being placed in the mud cell. This is crucial since dead prey would decompose and aren’t suitable nourishment for larval development.

Where Do They Live?
Mud daubers are solitary insects even though in some suitable habitats more than one mud nest will be found. The shape of the nest helps identify different groups of mud daubers. One nest shape appears as a group of cells that are cylinder-shaped and covered over with mud so it appears to be a smooth mud nest about 2 inches wide and about 4 inches long.

Another, the organ pipe group, constructs a nest that looks like a series of tubes resembling the pipes on a pipe organ. Still, another mud nest is constructed by the potter wasp that makes a nest resembling a small, clay pot. While most mud daubers make new nests for each generation, a few species will reuse old mud nests constructed by other mud daubers.

Life Cycle

Mud dauber wasps complete one or two generations per year, depending on the species, and undergo complete metamorphosis. This means they have four stages during their life cycle:

  1. Egg
  2. Larvae (grub)
  3. Pupae (cocoon)
  4. Adult

Eggs
Upon completion of a new nest, adult females begin to capture insects or spiders that are placed into each mud nest cell. Eggs are deposited on the prey within each cell, and then sealed with mud.

Larvae
The larvae that hatch from the eggs feed on the prey left by the adult wasp, and then change into the pupal stage (cocoon) that overwinters.

Pupae
The following spring, the pupae become adults, thus beginning the next generation of mud daubers.