Mud Dauber

Actual Size: 1”

Characteristics: Yellow or black; very thin waist. Easily identified by their nest.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Their mud tube nests are about 1” long and constructed side by side under eaves, porch ceilings, and more.

Habits:

  • Mud daubers are not very aggressive and very rarely sting
  • These wasps prey on spiders, including black widows
  • Mud daubers are able to reuse old mud nests constructed previously

Mud Daubers in Iowa

Mud dauber is the name for a group of unique wasps that construct their nests out of mud. With several species of mud daubers, they all vary in appearance. However, they are typically darker in color and can be large in size. They are best identified by the unique thread-like waist that separates their thorax and abdomen. Mud daubers are not known to be very aggressive—they rarely sting, even when threatened, and are not defensive of their nests. These wasps typically feed on spiders, with some species even targeting black widows.

Mud Dauber Habitat

Female mud daubers construct the unique cylindrical nests. Some nests often appear like an organ pipe. These short mud tubes are constructed side by side, and are most often located in shaded areas like porch ceilings, under eaves, or in sheds and barns. The female mud dauber collects spiders, paralyzes them with her sting, and then places them inside mud chambers within the nest. She deposits an egg on top of one of the spiders in the chamber before sealing it off. The larval wasp hatches and feeds on the spiders provided, molting several times before pupating and transforming into an adult wasp. If you notice what appears to be a mud dauber nest with holes on the outside, this often means that the mud daubers have vacated the nests. However, it’s still important to be cautious and avoid nests.

Mud Dauber Behavior & Threats

They may be large and menacing-looking, but mud daubers are very rarely aggressive and will not sting unless in very rare circumstances. In fact, many people consider these wasps to be beneficial in that they help reduce dangerous spider populations.

Although mud daubers aren’t dangerous, they can still be a nuisance when they are nesting near your home. If a nest is found on your property, always contact a licensed wasp control company. DIY wasp removal is never a wise idea, even with less-aggressive mud daubers.