What is a mud dauber? It’s important to brush up on your knowledge before you’re knee-deep in an infestation.
In this guide on mud daubers, we’ll go over:
- What is a mud dauber?
- What do mud daubers look like?
- What do mud daubers eat?
- Where do mud daubers live?
- What attracts mud daubers?
- Do mud daubers sting or bite?
- Signs of a mud dauber infestation
- How to prevent mud daubers
What is a Mud Dauber in Arizona?
A mud dauber is a common name for a wasp that makes its nest out of mud. Also referred to as potter wasps, mud daubers are common in Arizona, and other climates host their unique home setup.
What Do Mud Daubers Look Like?
Mud daubers are typically black, but they often have colored accents like pale markings. They have a ‘thread-waisted’ body, meaning there is a distinct slender segment between the abdomen and the thorax surrounded by dark wings.
Mud Dauber Identification
Mud daubers are typically between ½” and 1 inch long. Their slender body and colorings distinguish between typical wasps and bees. Similarly, seeing them near their nest is a dead giveaway that you are dealing with a mud dauber infestation instead of other pests.
What Do Mud Daubers Eat?
Mud daubers eat plants and nectar and sometimes feed on spiders and other small insects. They are generally attracted to sweet fruits and flowers, so keep that in mind to avoid them.
Where Do Mud Daubers Live?
Mud Daubers are common throughout North America, including in desert climates such as Arizona. They typically build their nests wherever resources are available and convenient.
You’ll likely see mud dauber nests located on or in:
- Eaves of buildings
- Corners of garages/barns
- Exterior Walls
Mud dauber nests are incredibly messy and can grow to massive sizes if left unchecked.
How Do Mud Daubers Build Mud Nests?
Mud daubers build their nests out of their namesake material – mud. They collect mud from puddles and other nutrient-rich soil and moisture areas and sculpt it into their homes.
Mud dauber nests are often narrow and tube-shaped and can consist of multiple pathways that run vertically and horizontally throughout the nest.
Some nests may look like clay pots and will commonly be seen sitting in or on top of an area in a home rather than affixed to it.
What Attracts Mud Daubers?
Mud daubers are looking for food, shelter, and places to lay eggs. This means mud daubers are primarily attracted to:
- Mud: Mud is the primary source of material for building mud dauber nests.
- Water: Mud daubers are looking for accumulated water to drink and build nests with.
- Bright colors: Because fruit and sweet things are often bright colored, mud daubers are drawn to colors such as yellow and orange.
- Fruit and Nectar: Mud daubers eat fruit and nectar – they are notorious for liking honeydew melon.
Do Mud Daubers Sting or Bite You?
Mud daubers are not typically aggressive toward humans, but they can deploy a sting. It is improbable that they sting you or animals outside of potential prey, such as spiders – even if you disturb their nest.
If a mud dauber does happen to sting you, it will be painful but should not require extra medical attention unless you have an allergic reaction.
Signs of a Mud Dauber Infestation
Seeing a significant amount of mud daubers is the unmistakable sign of infestation in your home, but you can likely get out in front of it by looking for these warning signs:
- Mud Dauber Nests: Seeing the cylindrical or pot-shaped mud tubes in or on your property is a sure sign that you need to take extra measures to get rid of mud daubers.
- Black Widows and other spiders: Some mud daubers almost exclusively eat black widows – and they tend to prey on spiders in general. If your property has many black widows or spiders, mud daubers have a higher chance of being there.
- Standing water sources near dirt or mud: The perfect combination of ingredients for a nest is an open invitation for mud daubers to start building.
How to Prevent Mud Daubers
A mud dauber infestation is annoying, time-consuming, and can degrade the structures they nest on. To best prevent a mud dauber infestation, do the following:
- Get rid of spiders on your property: Using spider pest control or essential oils such as eucalyptus will remove a primary food source for mud daubers.
- Trim fruit and flowers near nesting areas: Removing food sources will deter mud daubers from hanging around your property.
- Clean up standing water or mud: Limiting the resources that mud daubers build nests is vital to prevention.
- Build fake nests: Mud daubers are territorial and will not invade other mud daubers’ homes. A fake nest will deter them from going onto your property.
- Attract birds that prey on mud daubers: Orioles and other blackbirds eat mud daubers. If you set up bird feeders to attract them, it can limit mud daubers on your property.
Ultimately, mud daubers are challenging to remove without proper pest control once they have invaded. These preventative measures are good to practice year-round to limit the need for that.