Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mud Dauber Mom

We recently observed a mud dauber wasp building her nest on our back patio. She was busy early in the morning building the last of nine cells, each of which will eventually hatch out a new wasp. I read in our Field Guide to North American Insects that in order to provide for her young, Momma Mud Dauber stuffs each cell with up to a dozen spiders. We are thrilled, because our back patio has been a refuge for black widows. The last one I spotted had spun a web right next to the door. But since the mud dauber built her nest, I haven't seen any black widows! To me, this is a great alternative to pesticides.

When we first saw her, she had just started the last cell. Within an hour, she had built it up and was ready to cap it off. Now we wait for the next generation to emerge.


Amber said...

Very cool. Are they aggressive at all, or do they keep to themselves? I'm not really afraid of bees, but hornets and wasps do make me nervous.

Katherine Darrow said...

As far as I can tell, the mud dauber is very docile.
She was not at all bothered by us closely observing her. Since they are solitary, I don't think they are nearly as threatening as colonial wasps or hornets, which are more likely to sting in defense of their nest, especially if someone is trying to destroy it. I think I would get angry if someone was destroying my nest too!