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Friday, March 26, 2010

The Mud Dauber


When in the laundry the other day I saw that my yellow and black friend was back again, building a nest. I stood and watched it for a while, wondering how it was done. It flew off for a few minutes, then came back. All I could see it doing was rub its head with its two front legs and walk all over the dome.


I googled 'Australian wasps' and found out that it is the 'Black and Yellow Mud Dauber', Sceliphron caementarium. The female builds the nest and daubs with the lower mandible (jaw). Each nest contains only one egg. The nest will last for years and is quite often used by other types of wasps and bees.


Apparently they're non-aggressive but will sting, if handled; who'd want to pick one up?! They do pose a threat to aeroplanes, as they build their nests in small openings and tubes, which can impair the function of the craft. In fact, they're held responsible for the crash of Birgenair Flight 301, killing 189 passengers and crew.


I had a look yesterday and found that the construction had been completed. Unfortunately, I'll have to destroy it in a couple of months' time; it's just a job that has to be done, otherwise the house would be covered in them.

21 comments:

Alaine said...

This is the only way I can 'publish' comments at the moment; I keep getting an error message. This one is from Teri at 'Working The Earth'.

Alaine---Duh...you were right...I WAS a follower already. After I wrote that I checked and there you were but you weren't listed in my blogroll on the right column so I fixed that! Now, I can click on your blog anytime I am drifting about. Hey...here is the link to Egmont's site. www.theartistwithinus.blogspot.com He has taken all the photos for the book "The Art of the Trout Fly". I found in on Amazon and ordered it just a few minutes ago. I thought you might be interested in it since your talked about your husband tying flies.

maggie's garden said...

What an amazing work of art they have created. How did you manage to get so close for these photos? That also is pretty amazing.

These daubers look mean. You're pretty brave!

steven said...

alaine it's amazing what the little creatures can accomplish!! steven

Alaine said...

Maggie...not so brave, I took them through the window, that's why they're a bit hazy. They look mean but apparently they're not aggressive

Alaine said...

Steven...isn't it just! I love getting down to tin-tacks, reading about the habits of these tiny beings.

Wanda said...

We have mud dawbers here too, although their nests look more tube like. They stuff them with spiders for the larvae to eat as they grow.

Betsy said...

Love your 50th birthday picture! You look like it's your 25th! Really!

The wasp is beautiful..for a wasp! haha..the nest is so intricate. Can't believe they took down a plane!

Alaine said...

Wanda...they're very clever; I'm amazed.

Alaine said...

Betsy...thank you, make-up is great, isn't it?!

Derrick said...

Hi Alaine,

Such amazing creations, both the creature and its nest - but much better to be on the other side of the glass!

Susan said...

That is a much more intricate nest than our mud daubers make, like Wanda said. Also, ours don't have the yellow bands. They're a solid dark brown that's almost black.

Very nice close-ups, Alaine!

Alaine said...

Derrick...yes, I think it would have flown away if I'd opened the door.

Alaine said...

Susan...that sounds like the organ pipe mud dauber. The blue one is very pretty but doesn't build a nest, only uses those built by the others.

Lyn said...

They really are beings of this earth..building, thriving, but also wreaking havoc..I too love looking in on their lives..thank you!

Delwyn said...

Hi Alaine

I wonder if he is our 'mud wasp'...a very tenacious fellow who loves to return to the same spot over and over for another try...some days in my new garage I will find dozens of beginnings of nests...just pea sized constructions hanging from the ceiling...they don't ever get completed..


I have a wasp allergy so am always watchful of wasps of any variety.
Paper wasps are nasty as are the long legged hornets.When pruning the boug recently one took objection and got me. The end result was a course of cortisone to take the swelling down.

Happy days

Alaine said...

Lyn...You have lovely Central Park in which to find them. Thanks.

Alaine said...

Delwyn...I find a lot of unfinished nests too. Thank goodness I've never been bitten but years ago, before we built, we'd spent a day planting trees and it turned chilly; my husband picked up his jumper, put it on and was bitten about six times on his back by European wasps. They'd made a nice home for the day. All I had in the shed to ease the pain was white vinegar; luckily he didn't have a further bad reaction.

Vagabonde said...

I am always worried when I see a nest like this as my husband is allergic to stings – he almost died once after being stung. Thanks for coming to my blog and for your wishes. We went to San Antonio, Texas to celebrate my birthday and came back last night. It was quite warm there 82 F or 28 C and felt very good. Spring was already there – I took many photographs.

Alaine said...

Vagabonde...thanks for dropping by. Gosh, your poor husband, it must have been an anaphylactic (spelling?) response he had.

Glad you had a lovely birthday celebration. We've just arrived home after two days in lovely Melbourne. We went to the Sunday market and lunch at Docklands and today I spent walking around the city while my husband was in a meeting with government discussing all things piscatorial!

I treated myself to some CDs and some baroque sheet music; can't wait to try it tomorrow!

I'll look forward to your photos in a new post!

ruthie said...

How amazing! i can understand that you have to get rid of it though, we have to do the same with the swallows nests when they begin to build them over the doorways here in the summer.

Alaine said...

Ruthie...that's another thing we deal with, the swallows but we don't mind them building nests in the barn. Over doorways would be a problem!