Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mud Daubers

A Springfield News-Leader article by Francis Skalicky of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) on wasps led me to some interesting information.  It turns out that not all mud daubers are created equal.

Organ pipe dauber nest
The male organ pipe mud dauber (Trypoxylon politum) is not only a master mason but a dedicated family man.  After constructing the detailed nest, a family affair, the male stays to guard the nest against parasites while the little lady is off shopping for spiders to feed the future kids that are currently resting in the egg.  This trait, more recent evolved in human husbands, is not all that common among male wasps.

Black and yellow dauber nest
The black and yellow mud dauberSceliphron caementarium, is more like my generation, leaving the feeding of the kids to the female.  Their nest is built built of parallel tubes, later plastered over to form a large and unsightly lump.  Once sealed, the adults leave the kids on their own.  Consequently there are several  insects that will parasitize their nests.

The blue mud dauber Chalybion californicum is a metallic blue species that preys primarily on black widow spiders. It does not build a nest, but uses nests abandoned by other mud dauber wasps. It doesn't carry mud but only water which it uses to renovate their previously used nest.  Like other mud daubers, it is rarely aggressive. Think about it- doesn't build new nests, doesn't attack and harvests black widow spiders. Sounds like a good household pet to me.

There is a summary of these wasps in the Discover Nature Field Guide.

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