Wasp Watching

Be prepared for lots of writing, it I think I’ve spewed forth enough deep thoughts for a couple of days.

This morning, I was trying to get some exercise before a long car ride and I suddenly realized I was about to step on at least five wasps. What the heck?

I looked around and the area in front of the ranch house was covered in wasps, all flying around a few inches above the grass. They weren’t swarming, just bopping around.

A good old mud dauber.

There were two types out there, mud daubers and great black wasps. I could only get a picture of a mud dauber. That’s too bad, since the black ones are beautiful.

Yay, I found a black wasp picture that’s public domain!

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about these guys:

Sphex pensylvanicus. Sphex pensylvanicusis a species of digger wasp, commonly known as the great black wasp. They live across most of North America and grows to a size of 20–35 mm (0.8–1.4 in). The larvae feed on living insects that the females paralyze and carry to the underground nest.

That explains why I nearly stepped on them: it was a nest. I’ve seen them entering and exiting many times. They’re easier to spot after Lee mows.

Mud dauber nest.

The mud dauber, as their name implies, build nests out of mud. They build them anywhere and everywhere, as a visit to our garage will demonstrate. When they build them on the house, the barn swallows use them as bases for their own muddy nests.

I’m not sure what all the wasps were up to. My guess is that some small insects just hatched and they were feasting.

Unlike the paper wasps, these wasps never bother us at all. So, Bon appetit, friends!

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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