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Mud Dauber Wasps

Introduction
Mud dauber wasps are a member of the Sphecidae family and are related to Digger and Potter wasps. Mud dauber wasps can be found across Canada in eight of the ten provinces including Ontario and Québec. These wasps were named "mud" because it is the material they use to build their nests. It is usually safe to approach a mud dauber’s nest because unlike social wasps, such as yellow jackets, they will not defend it. It is this solitary nature that makes mud dauber wasps unlikely to sting unless they become threatened by physical contact such as becoming caught in clothing. Adult mud dauber wasps feed on nectar while the larvae feed on insects and spiders inside the nest.

Physical Characteristics
The size of an adult mud dauber wasp can range from 25mm-35mm, or between 1 in. and 1 ¼ in. These wasps are long and slender with a very thin "thread" waist between the thorax and abdomen. Mud dauber wasps have six legs, wings coming out of the thorax, and two antennae on the head. There are three different types of mud dauber wasps that we can differentiate by looking at their colouring. Firstly there is the black and yellow mud dauber that has a black body with yellow markings. The second type is the organ-pipe mud dauber that is completely black. Finally there is the blue mud dauber featuring a brilliant metallic blue body with blue wings.

Habitat
Another difference between the three types of mud dauber wasps is their nest. The black and yellow mud dauber makes a mud nest comprised of cylindrical cells that are covered by a smooth outer layer of mud. The organ-pipe mud dauber wasp also makes a mud nest out of cylindrical cells. The difference is they leave the cells exposed giving it the shape of a pan-flute or organ pipes. A blue mud dauber wasp does not build its own nest; instead it will use the old nests of the black and yellow or organ-pipe varieties. Even though they have never been taught, mud dauber wasps know how to make a nest by instinct. Their nests can be found attached to walls; ceilings; on the outsides of buildings such as sheds, barns and houses; or under open structures such as bridges. Each female will make her own nest by carrying balls of mud to the nest site where she will attach it using her mandibles (mouth parts). Mud dauber wasps will stop construction during the night, temporarily sealing any unfinished cells. Each cell takes one to two days to complete. This includes building the cell, laying the egg, and adding food. Once completed the nest will have six to eight cells and will be approximately the size of a fist or lemon. Some conditions that are needed for a successful nest are the following: a wet area like a puddle where mud can be found, a dry area where the nest can be built without getting washed away, and an abundance of other small insects or spiders for the female wasps to place in their nests. These nests can be a problem because they indicate the presence of insect pests or spiders, and can also be host to carpet beetles after the wasps have deserted it.

Life Cycle
The life cycle of a mud dauber wasp begins as an egg sealed inside one of the cylindrical cells of a nest; each cell is host to one egg. Before sealing a cell and deserting it forever, the mother wasps find small insects, or commonly spiders, which she will sting and paralyze. Not only does the mother lay her egg on one of these insects or spiders, it will also be what the wasp larvae eats while it’s growing inside the cell. The insects and spiders that are placed in the cell are only paralyzed not dead, this way the meat will remain fresh for the larvae to eat. After three weeks the larvae matures into a pupa which is the state it will be in over the winter as it grows into an adult mud dauber wasp. After the winter they will emerge as adult mud dauber wasps, the females will mate then restart the cycle by building nests of their own.

Pest Control Services
A technician will come out to your property and do an inspection. Extermination requires a combination of sprays and dust. Mud dauber wasps are quite common in southern Ontario and by the end of summer there may be many nests on one house. Please feel free to call or send us an email for your free quote or for more information 1-888-390-7378.

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