We built our house and have lived in it for over a year now and, as much as we love it, we didn’t realize that we’d also be providing a home for a lot of other creatures — namely, mud daubers.
It seems as though every few weeks, we have a new nest built somewhere on our front porch. These nests are particularly visible because the mud daubers build them on the vertical surface of our (whitish) cottonwood stone walls.
Let me share: It’s not a good look.
I’ve asked my husband to knock the nests down several times. This last time, however, I wanted a nest gone — and gone yesterday — when he didn’t happen to be home. So I put on my brave girl boots and did the job myself.
Let me share again: It’s nasty work.
The mud dauber creates a mud nest that looks like a series of tubes. Once the mud tubes dry, the mud dauber brings back some sort of bug that it has paralyzed with a sting. The mud dubber shoves the carcass into the mud tube and leaves its egg inside to grow and subsequently feed on the dead bug. So when I smashed the mud casing, out fell a larvae.
Blech. Ten times blech.
Anyway, the point of this post isn’t to gross anyone out; it’s to talk about the differences between a wasp and a mud dauber, because before I did the dirty deed myself, I relied on my husband to take care of the mess while I turned a blind eye to the situation.
Organ pipe mud dauber nest (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/50352333@N06/5463787112/in/set-72157625973505207/)
Was I going to get stung by a mud dauber? I had a reasonable amount of fear since I had been stung at age 6 by a raving wasp whose nest had been disturbed by silly boys who thought it great fun to poke a stick into the nest. Silly me for playing with silly boys, I suppose, particularly since I — the innocent bystander — was the one to get stung.
To prevent a repeat sting occurrence, I researched mud daubers and wasps (not knowing the difference) and am happy to report that, typically, mud daubers don’t sting for kicks. Here’s what else I found out:
- Mud daubers typically sting only when provoked; they do not tend to guard their nests as if their lives depended on it. Wasps defend their nests. And not just one wasp — so if you choose to meddle with a wasp nest, be prepared for a serious battle.
- Mud daubers are larger but more slender than wasps. While both mud daubers and wasps are black and yellow, the coloring on wasps is more noticeable.
- Mud daubers are solitary insects that gather mud to build their tubelike nests on vertical surfaces, such as porches, awnings or decks. Wasps live communally and build large nests out of wood fibers and their saliva. Their nests can be underground and above ground.