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Female Black and Yellow Mud Dauber Wasps Making Cells & Laying Eggs

8-19-16  mud dauber 028If you look closely at the ground directly in front of this female Black and Yellow Mud Dauber wasp you will see the clump of mud that she has collected and rolled into a ball with her mandibles.  This lump of mud will be carried back to the nest site in the wasp’s mandibles, and then used as building material to mold a cell.  After making the mud cell, the wasp then goes and locates spiders, stings them (paralyzing but not killing them) and brings them back to the cell, into which she packs them.  When the cell is sufficiently stuffed with spiders, she lays an egg and seals the cell with more mud.  She makes and fills several of these cells and typically covers all of them together with a final layer of mud.  When the wasp egg in each cell hatches, the larva has living spiders to eat that haven’t decomposed, due to the fact that they are not dead. Eventually the larval wasp pupates and the adult wasp chews its way out of the cell.

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12 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    So interesting! Poor spiders, alive but trapped in mud 😕 That middle part of her body is so thin.

    August 18, 2016 at 6:55 am

  2. Suzanne

    Mary, how long do the larvae and the paralyzed spiders hang out inside the cell?

    August 18, 2016 at 7:42 am

    • The larval stage of a mud dauber lasts about three weeks. Then they pupate and overwinter as pupae, emerging as adults in the spring.

      August 18, 2016 at 10:40 am

  3. Linda

    Aarg! We are leaving with the undead right under our noses! (Under the eaves of our houses and barns)

    August 18, 2016 at 8:09 am

  4. SNoey123

    I’m pretty sure we have these at my house. Do they sting humans? How do we get rid of them if so because they are in our yard.

    August 18, 2016 at 8:42 am

    • Black and yellow mud daubers are not aggressive at all, and although they can sting, will only do so if threatened, so you are safe! You might also have great golden digger wasps (nests in ground) and they, too, are not aggressive.

      August 18, 2016 at 10:36 am

  5. We’ve seen thousands of them rolling up mudballs beside the Missouri River in Montana, right beside dozens of cliff swallows doing the same. Here at home, the dirty rats lay their eggs in the grounding plug of the electrical receptacles in the barn, so I have to use two-prong adaptors till the kids hatch.

    August 18, 2016 at 9:30 am

  6. Pat

    The lives of these and other such industrious insects are just amazing.

    August 18, 2016 at 10:16 am

  7. The ways of Nature isn’t always pretty!

    August 18, 2016 at 10:58 pm

  8. Stacey Lennard

    I’m wondering if this is the same wasp that I’ve been seeing in my yard this summer, or some related type? The one in my yard is digging holes in the dry patches of our lawn where the grass has died.No mud this summer!

    Hope you can help me identify it! Thanks for your great posts!!!

    ​ ​ ​

    On Thu, Aug 18, 2016 at 6:50 AM, Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “If you look closely at the ground directly in front > of this female Black and Yellow Mud Dauber wasp you will see the clump of > mud that she has collected and rolled into a ball with her mandibles. This > lump of mud will be carried back to the nest site in ” >

    August 24, 2016 at 5:07 pm

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