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Friday, November 1, 2013

MUD DAUBER



How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth? (Job 4:19)

Mud dauber (sometimes called "dirt dauber," "dirt digger," "dirt dobber," "dirt diver", or "mud wasp") is a name commonly applied to a number ofwasps from either the family Sphecidae or Crabronidae that build their nests from mud. Mud daubers are long, slender wasps about 1-inch (25 mm) in length; the latter two species above have thread-like waists. The name of this wasp group comes from the nests that are made by the females, which consist of mud molded into place by the wasp's mandibles. Mud daubers are rarely aggressive and stings are very uncommon.

The organ pipe mud dauber, as the name implies, builds nests in the shape of a cylindrical tube resembling an organ pipe or pan flute. Organ-pipe mud daubers build their very distinctive and elegant tubes on vertical or horizontal faces of walls, cliffs, bridges, overhangs and shelter caves or other structures.

The black and yellow mud dauber's nest is composed of a series of cylindrical cells that are plastered over to form a smooth nest about the size of a lemon. Black-and-yellow mud daubers build a simple, one-cell, urn-shaped nest that is attached to crevices, cracks and corners. Each nest contains one egg. Usually, they clump several nests together and plaster more mud over them.

The metallic-blue mud dauber forgoes building a nest altogether and simply uses the abandoned nests of the other two species and preys primarily on black widow spiders. Blue mud daubers frequently appropriate old nests of black-and-yellow mud daubers. They carry water to them and recondition them for their own purposes. The two species commonly occupy the same barns, porches, or other nest sites.

All three species may occupy the same sites year after year, creating large numbers of nests. Mud dauber nests can last many years in protected locations and are often used as nest sites by other kinds of wasps and bees, as well as other types of insects.

One disadvantage to making nests is that most, if not all, of the nest-maker’s offspring are concentrated in one place, making them highly vulnerable to predation. Once a predator finds a nest, it can plunder it cell by cell. A variety of parasitic wasps, ranging from extremely tinychalcidoid wasps to larger, bright green chrysidid wasps attack mud dauber nests. They pirate provisions and offspring as food for their own offspring.

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