Mud dauber wasps build nests of mud

In Frederick County, often we find wasp nests constructed from mud. The two mud dauber wasp nest types most often seen are those built in tubes or those that are spherical blobs of mud. Both wasp species are not aggressive, rarely sting humans and prey mainly on spiders. The nests of both types of wasps are built by the females.

Organ pipe mud dauber wasps are black, with the nest tubes built side by side to house and incubate individual eggs in each tube. These wasps stock the tubes with captured prey to nourish the developing wasp larvae. The male organ pipe wasp is the only wasp known to stay with the nest to help guard it, while the female is out hunting or collecting mud to expand the nest. Considered one of the least aggressive wasps, an organ pipe wasp will sting in self-defense when grabbed or swatted.

Potter wasps in our area are generally black with yellow bands. The female builds a round nest, reminiscent of a clay pot. One egg is deposited in each nest, and the nest is stocked with spiders or insect prey for the developing wasp.

Both potter and organ pipe wasps locate their nests in sheltered locations. The nests can exist for years after they have been abandoned by the wasps and can often be used for nests by bees, other wasps or insects. Both types of mud daubers overwinter as young in the nests. In our area, they emerge in the spring and look for new nest locations. Sometimes in the spring, we even find the mud nests on sheltered areas of vehicles or machinery that hasn't been operated for a while.

Nature Notes for 9/2/2012

(Courtesy Photo)