Mud daubers are some of the most beautiful and beneficial insects. Rarely do they sting anyone and even in the event of a sting it is even rarer that it is any more than local pain and swelling. The most common problem with mud daubers is there nests. These mud chambers are built practically any where and on any surface. Presence of human activity does not seem to bother the docile wasp and in the event that the nest is taken down by the human occupant or even moved such as is the case when a nest is built on any type of vehicle, the mud dauber seems unfazed and simply picks another spot. When left alone, large and even multiple nests are constructed such as by the pipe organ dauber.
Dauber nests are built with mud that the wasp collects, rolls in a ball and carries back to the chosen site. Different daubers build specific types of nest according to their species and size. Potter wasps build smaller nests, about the size of a marble with a lip at the top that resembles that of a clay water pot. Pipe organ wasps build a series of chambers that look very much like the name suggests as well. When the wasp finally emerges as an adult they start the process over again and most will build new nests or add to existing sites while some such as the blue dauber builds no nest at all. The blue dauber invades other dirt dauber nests in which to lay their eggs.
While there are just as many different shapes and sizes of nests as there are different kinds of daubers they all have one thing in common. The mud nest is built to house their eggs where their brood will grow and feed on insects which they’ve captured, paralyzed and packed inside. Mud daubers typically choose spiders as their choice for food and some get quite specific as which spiders they hunt. Blue daubers prefer immature widows as food for their young but no spider is out of consideration.
Since mud daubers rarely sting or attack and they help control unwanted spiders and insects they are obviously beneficial. If one should inadvertently fly inside you may need to ultimately spray it if you can’t coax it out the door but otherwise control methods are not necessary. The only nuisance of the dauber is the fact that they construct mud nests on undesirable surfaces. Since there is very little ‘additives’ to the mud such as fecal matter or saliva as with termite tubes, the mud is relatively easy to remove. While some surfaces are harder to clean than others, mostly it’s as simple as scraping as much as you can with a flat knife, screw driver or putty knife and perhaps wiping up the remnants with soap and water.
Luckily, mud dauber nests seem to come off in large chunks if not all together when carefully plied leaving very little ‘shadow’ or outline. Of course this depends on the surface but the flatter and sharper the tool you use will allow for more of the nest to pop off all at once. For surfaces such as drywall this is very important but even with the most care you could accidently remove drywall paper or ‘popcorn’ as from ceilings in garages and finished carports. For drywall you won’t want to use any liquids as this causes the mud to run or soak into the paper and stain but for cement walls or stucco you made need to use soap and water because the uneven surface will hold mud in its pits which cannot be effectively scraped off.
Some homes for whatever reason have more mud dauber nests than others and I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe your area has more spiders than others or perhaps your carport or garage is convenient to access. While I know of no research to suggest daubers come back to there place of origin it does make sense that they wouldn’t normally fly miles away to start anew once hatching out. If somethings conducive for one insect it’s generally conducive for more. Even so, the price of a small mud dauber nest as compared to the many insects and especially spiders they’ve helped control is well worth the price.
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