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What Are Mud Dauber Wasps and Should You Get Rid of Them?

Updated on August 2, 2017
NateB11 profile image

Like most people, I'm concerned with the everyday practical needs of every day life and therefore research issues of health and livelihood.

Evidently I'm a wasp magnet. Not exactly, but I seem to be destined to have a run-in with a wasp every seven years.

I'm kicking back like I do and I hear a voice call from the bedroom. I go to the bedroom and my girlfriend informs me there's a wasp in there. I see it sitting on a colorful painting, seeming attracted by the colors of the art of this particular work, I suppose; it moved a bit, only very slightly, like it was inspecting the shades of red and yellow on the canvas. Don't know. I know it looked like a wasp, with a long body and wings, some yellow markings and a stinger. That, to me, is a bad sign. What I couldn't figure out was why, even with my face less than a foot away from it while I was examining it, it just kind of sat there. I put a cup over it, then removed the cup, it didn't do a thing. I got a coaster, put the cup back on the thing and trapped it in the cup, covering the opening with the coaster and released it on the patio and watched it fly away while I rushed back indoors.

I was a bit dumbfounded by the fact that I was never attacked.

Then, a few days later, the thing was back, playing around on the kitchen window. This time I got nervous. Why was she back? She had it in for us, I guessed. I just didn't want to get stung or for anyone else to get stung. It was a wasp, after all. I asked my girlfriend for her hair-spray, because I was already tired of dealing with this problem. I sprayed the bug heavily with hair-spray and watched her struggle with the sticky gunk on her wings, then I tore off a piece cardboard from a box of tea and smashed her with it.

Weird. Because I felt bad. She never gave me a fight. I felt like maybe I just killed something that meant no harm.

And I was right.

The Black and Yellow Mud Dauber Wasp. Basically a harmless solitary wasp that makes its nest from mud.
The Black and Yellow Mud Dauber Wasp. Basically a harmless solitary wasp that makes its nest from mud. | Source

The Yellow and Black Mud Dauber Wasp

This was how the wasp looked. It had that typical wasp body; long, narrow waist, stinger. It was black except the legs were yellow. Its behavior: Docile.

Quite incongruent with my picture of a typical wasp.

Well, what I had encountered was a yellow and black mud dauber wasp. It gets its name obviously from it's markings and look, and also because it makes nests made of mud. The female carries balls of mud to the nest and proceeds to build it. They build the nests side by side or on top of each other and they come out rounded; they put them in corners of buildings, eaves, in barns. They differ from other wasp nests because there are no combs. The nests are just packed-in mud.

They are solitary wasps that eat spiders, including black widow spiders. They sting the spiders to paralyze them, then carry the arachnids to the nest so the babies can feed off of them. For this reason, mud daubers are considered a good natural form of pest control.

They use those stingers mainly for prey. They rarely sting humans, only if handled roughly or attacked. For this reason, it is often advised to leave them alone and not get rid of them. They get rid of flies and spiders and are generally harmless to humans. Birds get rid of the mud daubers, so there's an interesting ecological lesson in all this.

However, the best thing to do if you feel you need to get rid of them is to maybe spray them with wasp freeze and knock down the nest with a broomstick or something along those lines that will scrape the nest off the area. Then you can put a tablespoon of peppermint extract into a spray bottle and fill the bottle with water, and spray areas with it where you want to keep the wasps away. They hate the strong smell of peppermint, it repels them.

Example of a Mud Dauber nest.
Example of a Mud Dauber nest. | Source

Why Did I Get Rid of The Wasp?

Well, I didn't know what it was and didn't know what I was doing. All I saw was WASP! and proceeded to attack. Probably it was totally unnecessary for me to kill it. I probably could have captured it again, let it go outside and then just knock down its nest. She would have lost interest in my apartment and moved on, and gotten rid of some poisonous spiders elsewhere.

However, accidents do happen. She could have kept coming into my apartment and somebody could have gotten stung accidentally, rolling over in bed to turn on a lamp. Just didn't want any kind of a wasp around me and the family at all.

At any rate, these are the easiest wasps to deal with. They don't attack in a swarm like the more "social" wasps that protect their nests. So, when deciding whether to get rid of them, it's a matter of deciding whether their location is around human traffic where you don't want them and whether the benefit of them getting rid of the spiders is worth getting rid of them or leaving them alone.

Have you dealt with mud dauber wasps?

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A Ziplock freezer bag with water and pennies seems to be a good wasp repellant.
A Ziplock freezer bag with water and pennies seems to be a good wasp repellant. | Source

Update: Ziplock Bag, Water and Pennies

Previously (above), I had mentioned using peppermint spray as a wasp repellant. I've found this to be a temporary solution at best and a bit labor intensive. You can spray quite a bit of the peppermint oil and water mixture around areas where you want to repel wasps, but they'll come back when the spray wears off.

I eventually added dish soap to the spray and sprayed wasps as they entered my patio where they were coming and going throughout the day. This chased them off, but they came back later. Someone told me it's dangerous to attack them because they release chemicals when attacked that alerts their comrades to attack their adversary.

So, I did some research. I discovered that there is a fly repellant used to a great extent in Mexico and to some extent in areas of the US, and this repellant is also used to keep wasps away. It involves filling up a Ziplock freezer bag half-way with water, dropping 4 pennies in it and hanging it in the area where you want to keep the wasps away.

I did just that, as you can see from the picture above to the right. For the past 2 days, the wasps have not returned. So, I'm counting this as a victory and going to say the Ziplock bag with water and pennies works. If it turns out the wasps come back, I'll update.

Update a Month Later

I cannot say conclusively that the Ziplock bag with water and pennies works to keep the wasps away. While they never entered the patio and hung around, they did come around the outside area of the patio around the eave; at that time, I'd added vinegar to my mixture of water, dish soap and peppermint oil, and continued to spray the wasps and the area with this homemade repellant. This seemed to keep them at bay. I can say I never got stung and the wasps didn't spend a lot of time around the patio or on the patio.

Black Widow Spider. Some Mud Daubers eat them!
Black Widow Spider. Some Mud Daubers eat them! | Source

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    • profile image

      Keeping the Balance 4 weeks ago

      I grew up with these little guys. They're like daddy long leg spiders...not harmful at all!! I like to spend time in the garage, and noticed a dauber coming and going constantly. Finally realized it was building a "nest" about a foot away from my workbench (and me!), attached to an old dog bed. I was fascinated and enjoyed watching the progress over the next week or so. I got some great pix with my phone. I hate the thought of killing them off - while I'm sure it does happen, I've never met anyone who has ever been stung by one. And we save on exterminators b/c we don't have roaches!! They cut down on flies, too, btw.

    • NateB11 profile image
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      Nathan Bernardo 5 weeks ago from California, United States of America

      To tell you the truth, if it were me I'd get rid of it. In fact, that's what I did because I didn't even want to risk even accidentally getting stung or for someone in my house getting stung. For my own peace of mind, that's what I felt I had to do. I've never tried it but it's said that you can just spray it with something called Wasp Freeze and that will kill it. Evidently you can even stand pretty far away from the wasp when you spray it with the stuff. The only other alternative that I can think of is capturing it and releasing it outside.

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      Ridiculously Scared 5 weeks ago

      I have one mud dauber in my living room. I first noticed it 2 days ago. Yesterday when I got home I saw that it had climbed up a window screen between the screen and the window. I closed the window and it is now trapped in there. I am heartened to hear it is "docile" but when it comes to bugs that can sting I am extremely conflict avoidant. Any thoughts. I am scared of getting close to it. Thank you!!!

    • NateB11 profile image
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      Nathan Bernardo 7 weeks ago from California, United States of America

      Hi, Christine. I personally haven't tried anything else other than what I wrote about in this article, but some of the suggestions I've read about include keeping the area clear of spider webs/spiders (because mud daubers eat them), putting out bird feeders so that the birds eat the mud daubers or scare them off and painting eaves and trim of your home pale blue. Many people believe that the pale blue color does deter wasps, it's an old Southern tradition to paint the porch ceiling this color to keep wasps away. One theory is that it fools the wasps into thinking they are looking at the sky.

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      Christine 7 weeks ago

      Hello ! I just moved in a new apartment and found one of these little fellas (blue mud wasp) in my kitchen on sunday. I had no idea it was a wasp (no yellow line at all, just beautiful shiny blue color) so me and my friend killed it.

      Then, surprise surprise: there was a second one in my kitchen this morning. I trapped it in a Tupperware, took a picture so I could identify it (that's how I ended up here) and set it free outdoor.

      Problem is, I am allergic to bees/wasps (if I had known it was a wasp I probably would still be locked in the bathroom waiting for the boyfriend to come back home !). I will try the peppermint oil as soon as I get home tonight, but I was wondering: let's say another one finds its way inside and I don't want to kill it nor risk getting stung, is there a way to attrack and trap it safely ? I've read a typical wasp trap won't work on mud wasps/daubers... Any other idea ? I highly doubt I'll try the Tupperware thing again, since I'm not a big fan of emergency rooms... Thanks !

    • NateB11 profile image
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      Nathan Bernardo 2 months ago from California, United States of America

      That's great that you live peacefully with the mud dauber that nests on your house, very interesting. Makes sense about what you say about light and movement, those other methods you mention could be something to experiment with to see what effects they have.

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      Sydney 2 months ago

      I have a black mud dauber that nests in the siding of my house by my back door. Nearly every day when I go outside she is there...just inches from me. She has never been aggressive at all. I've recently read that about peppermint oil and it makes sense that it would wear off after a few days/weeks...especially if it rains at all. I wonder if the ziplock bag trick works because the water reflects with the sun and wind and creates light and movement? Maybe it's a bit like a scarecrow effect. I wonder if putting up a little pinwheel or attaching some long confetti-type stuff that moves with the wind would do the trick as well. Makes sense anyway.

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      Lu 2 months ago

      I think I just found one of these in my garage. Thanks to your pictures and post, I stopped my husband from destroying it. We are not sure what to do about it, because we have kids in and out of the house. However, if they leave us alone, I like the benefit of the natural insecticide.

    • NateB11 profile image
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      Nathan Bernardo 2 months ago from California, United States of America

      It's up to you, Gabe. I feel nervous around wasps, to be honest, even these mostly harmless ones; by the off chance of even accidentally getting stung. But they are really pretty harmless, a person would have to attack them for them to sting.

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      gabe LV 2 months ago

      interesting , i also noticed the same behaviors from them , they started 2 little nest in between my windows, there are 2 windows in the corner of my bedroom in a L shape ,they seem to peacefuly stay around their nest and sometimes wander to explore but they never attack me , its been a week they live here , im not used to those wasps so i told myself i would destroy their little nest at night but keep forgetting about them since they dosent really bother me, sure they are creepy looking but in a week they never tried to harm me. Not sure what to do with them , should i keep them even if there no venomous/poisonous spiders where i live ?

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      alex 2 months ago

      Thanks for posting, i just destroyed 3 nests a few hours ago, now i feal so bad about it, i also have spider problems, i guess il just letthem stay from now on, and i have to spred the word... :)))

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      Marie 3 months ago

      Thank you! I had four nests pop up in the past four days, and since I have a lot of spiders that tend to make it inside you've persuaded me to leave the nests be. Might as well see if they help reduce the number of spiders before evicting them from the garage.

    • NateB11 profile image
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      Nathan Bernardo 3 years ago from California, United States of America

      That's exactly how I felt about it, jtrader. I just didn't want to take a chance.

      Thanks for stopping by and reading and glad you liked the article.

    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 3 years ago

      Good tips here on how to deal with the problem. That one may have been harmless but you never know when one will just feel threatened and attack.

    • NateB11 profile image
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      Nathan Bernardo 3 years ago from California, United States of America

      That is definitely a vulnerable position to be in the shower when the wasps come into the home. It's my feeling that if they're around where people live, they need to be gotten rid of.

      The peppermint spray is effective, they stay off of my patio when I spray it; but I do have to refresh it often.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      I have these all over. Inside and outside the house. Sometimes they are the tube types you show and other times they are round mud huts. (This could be a different wasp which builds with mud). I have had them come in through the bathroom louvers while I am in the shower. You can't believe how vulnerable you feel when you are naked, wet, and have a smooth tile floor. No quick getaways or it could lead to a concussion when you smack your head from sliding on a tile floor with wet feet..

      I tend to kill them otherwise they keep building in the same spot. I didn't know about peppermint oil.

      I would also like to note that at least here in Brazil, they also take caterpillars back to their mud apartments as well. Another bonus.

      Interesting post.