HQ is home to many living things besides the two of us. Next month, that will include my younger sister, Lori.
She happens to be allergic to bee stings. My honeybees are super gentle, and I have no fear that she’ll get stung by any of them (although she’ll probably pass on doing any hive checks with me, just to be safe). But this time of year we also share HQ with lots of wasps. Wasps get a bad name for being aggressive stingers. While this hasn’t been our experience with the kind we’ve got here, with my sister’s move-in date coming closer, we did a little research.
The kind we have are black and yellow mud daubers. They build small tubes of mud under the eaves of our house, and a fair number somehow find their way inside the house. While they might sting if you try to handle them, they’re not agressive, not even to defend their nests. This agrees with our experience. I have trapped many of them to release them back outside, and they’ve spent a lot of time flying around our house when we couldn’t be bothered to trap them, always without incident. And today I got up close to one of their nests to take pictures while a mud dauber was right there, and it showed absolutely no interest in me.
So now that we don’t have to worry about being afraid of them, we can focus on how cool they are. They are spider hunters. They apparently have preferences about which kind of spiders as well as what size of spiders they prefer. Yesterday we watched one build its mud tube on the edge of a window frame. It was remarkably noisy, making a loud buzzing noise while working that we don’t hear from them while they’re flying around. Today, with the nest finished, we got to see it filled. Mud daubers will sting their spider prey not to kill them but to paralyze them. They will then fly them back to their nest, put them down in the tube, and lay their egg on the spiders’ paralyzed bodies. This way they’ll keep until the larvae emerge and can eat them. Crazy no?
Here’s a mud dauber, coming out of its tube after depositing a spider. No joke. So cool.
P.S. Lori, even if they aren’t going to sting you, we promise to get them out of the house for you, and even take down the nests near the door. Because beyond being safe, we also want you to feel safe.