Mud dauber (Apoidea family)
Wasps are some of the scariest predators in existence, and have been the inspiration for films such as Alien (1979). Learn about the Mud dauber wasp and see why.
Mud daubers are easily identified by their elongated abdomens, they are not aggressive and only sting if directly threatened. In most cases, they will not even defend their nests. Perhaps you have seen a small brownish glob, or long tube-like structure made up of mud under the peak of your rooftop? Or perhaps an item in your garage or yard? If the nest has been abandoned, there are holes in it where the next generation has escaped.
The adult females drink flower nectar, but to feed their larvae, they capture, sting and paralyze up to a dozen spiders and pack them into a mud tube; then, they lay a single egg and move on to a new tube of mud. Sometimes, the males will contribute spiders that they have paralyzed.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, a Mud dauber Nest and a wasp gathering and carrying mud.
Each species of wasp in the same genera will seek out a particular type of spider in size and species. Mud daubers seem to know what they are looking for and where to find them. When the deposited eggs finally hatch, they eat the paralyzed victims… alive!
Paralyzed Spiders removed from Mud Dauber Storage Nest: Image Credit: http://nature.mdc.mo.gov
There are a few advantages to making a mud nest, They are durable and they are often used by other wasps year after year. They recondition the nest with fresh mud to seal in a new round of spiders and eggs. A disadvantage is that the offspring are concentrated in one area which makes them easy prey for predators themselves.
Check out this video of a Mud Dauber doing one of the things she does best. Notice that she is sealing it up one of them. Can you guess why?
Header image: WikiMedia Commons