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Even those who boast bravery in the face of wasps and bees have been known to flinch when they hear a buzz that’s too close for comfort. Stinging insects make cowards of many, and with so many varieties, it can be hard to discern which insect is which. It isn’t always easy to tell a paper wasp from a yellow jacket or a hornet from a bee.
Mud daubers, members of the wasp family, are one of these buzzing pests. Fortunately, mud daubers are less aggressive than many of their wasp cousins and often pose no threat when left undisturbed. Read on to learn how to identify mud daubers and remove their nests as needed.
HOW TO IDENTIFY A MUD DAUBER
Mud daubers earned their name through their nesting practices. These large, flying insects hatch from nests crafted primarily of foraged mud and clay. Instead of colonizing like other members of the wasp family, matured mud dauber females construct solitary nests to house their own young. These nests may be found in cracks or crevices of buildings, under awnings or bridges, and even within vehicle engines.
Mud dauber nests differ from those of other wasps. Many of their nests resemble mud tubes or cones hanging down on the walls of buildings, while others are found within gaps or holes as though they’ve been sealed or “plastered” with mud.
Identifying mud daubers can be tricky since they often look similar to other wasps. Many mud daubers have the same yellow-and-black markings, while others are metallic and dark-bodied. Matured mud daubers are typically larger than other wasps as well. Their bodies sport the typical six legs, antennae, and long wings of their relatives, but with one important difference: instead of the rounded body of other wasps, mud daubers have a skinny, pole-like segment connecting their thorax to their abdomen. A mud dauber is also far more docile than other stinging insects (thank goodness!) and can be identified through their more aloof behavior.
LOCATING THE SOURCE
Mud daubers like to take up residence where you do, and they’re known to nest in areas in close proximity to humans. Mud dauber nests can be found on urban buildings, on suburban homes, and on textured walls where their mud nests are more likely to adhere. These insects also choose nesting areas where mature females have easy access to both their target prey and a supply of mud for nest building. Their nests might not be in plain sight; mud daubers build nests in sheltered areas to protect the eggs they lay inside.
Though they’re considered stinging insects, mud daubers aren’t likely to go after you or your loved ones. Unlike more aggressive wasps, mud daubers are not defensive or territorial. Instead, a mud dauber’s stinger is primarily used to paralyze the small insects and spiders they eat so they can easily catch, transport, and pack them into the cells of their nests as food for their young.
If you’ve spotted a fresh mud dauber nest, it’s more of an eyesore than a threat to you and your family. However, once the eggs inside hatch and the new mud daubers vacate their home, the nest is vulnerable to takeover by other pests, including more aggressive wasp types. That’s why it’s a good idea to remove mud dauber nests when possible.
HOW TO GET RID OF MUD DAUBER NESTS
Mud daubers are mostly considered a mild nuisance, and many people even welcome these insects since their presence cuts down on spider swarms in the area. However, mud dauber nests aren’t exactly desirable adornments for homes, and with the added risk of more threatening pests who may take over the empty nests, it can be a good idea to remove the mud tubes.
Before attempting to remove a mud dauber nest, know the risks before taking on the task. While mud daubers aren’t known to be aggressive, they can sting when they’re handled roughly or frightened, and hastily grabbing a mud dauber nest can startle any mud daubers inside. Mud dauber stings are hardly dangerous or fatal, but those allergic to bee or wasp venom are likely vulnerable to mud dauber stings as well. The pain of a mud dauber sting is comparable that of a red imported fire ant bite or sting. Be particularly aware that disturbing the mud tubes could stir up whatever pest may have commandeered the nest, such as more aggressive insects.
Nest removal can be done during the night hours with gloved hands, a paint scraper, and proper disposal, but due to the associated risks, it’s a task probably best left to a pest control professional.
Ridding your yard of mud daubers can be done by tackling the other pests that enticed them there in the first place. Homeowners should first address any crevices, unsealed cracks, or other potential hiding spots that draw in the spiders and small insects that mud daubers prey upon. These spaces can be filled, caulked, or sealed to deter small bugs from harboring in those areas. Sealing up these spaces has the added benefit of discouraging mud daubers from building nests in these spaces as well.
Mud daubers, while mostly harmless, can still be a bother to have around. If these insects are stopping you from enjoying your home and yard, give us a call. We’re happy to remove mud dauber nests and create a plan that will prevent these insects from returning.