The Plague of Mud Daubers

dog dauber.jpg
There are actually dozens and dozens of mud daubers in this photo. That’s what Carlton the Dogman is looking at.

Before I go any further, I must say it’s raining! When it rains to any significant extent once the hot weather starts, it’s worth mentioning. We will have some happy plants, and I set some seat cushions out to get cleaned, too (it’s free!).

rain
The rain chains are flowing, and the dirty cushions are getting a bath. Rain is our friend!

One thing the rain is washing away from those cushions will be mud dauber nests. We always have some here (ours are black-and-yellow mud daubers, Sceliphron caementarium), but this year they are especially abundant. I have always enjoyed watching these guys and find the places they make nests pretty funny sometimes. You never know where one will show up, like on a shovel, in the lawn mower, etc. They were all over those seat cushions, too. They use such nice, brown mud. Quite the construction workers!

As the photo below shows, it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between a mud dauber nest and a regular paper wasp nest. It’s good to know the difference between the wasps themselves, too, since the mud daubers are way less likely to sting.

wasp nests
Paper wasp at left. mud dauber at lower right. You might also notice that the limestone on our house has lots and lots of fossil shells in it. It’s from Georgetown, Texas, where one layer is full of fossils!

We’re glad they aren’t likely to sting, because for the past week or so, there have been hundreds of them flying around the house. They are just floating around in circles, doing who knows what (maybe eating? mating?). Oddly enough, there aren’t any more nests than usual, so something must be going on. I predict the birds are enjoying all the wasps, though, because lots of swallows and mockingbirds are also flying around!

My guess is that at least some wasp fun is happening. I saw this happening, and hoped it was two wasps making more wasps, and not one wasp getting ready to snack on another. This is where I wish I had a wasp expert to consult. I did upload the photo to iNaturalist, though!

mud-dauber.jpg
Two mud daubers either in love, or not.

I focused on mud daubers today, because I think it’s important to talk about the smaller and less exotic residents at the Hermits’ Rest, too. We’ve coexisted here for the six years we’ve owned the place (and eight years, if you could when we were just camping out before we bought it). While I do remove nests from the sides of the house, I leave them alone elsewhere, because they aren’t hurting anything and were here before us!

Thanks for being here, mud daubers!

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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