Life Cycle of Mud Daubers

Life Cycle of Mud Daubers
••• spider image by wilmar huisman from

Mud daubers are a type of solitary wasp common in North America. They generally grow to be ¾ to 1 inch long and can be dull black, iridescent black, or black with yellow markings. They can be identified by their long, narrow waist. Mud daubers are generally non-aggressive insects, but the distinctive mud dauber nests can be a nuisance.

Nest Building

Female mud daubers build nests out of mud and clay. Mud dauber nests are composed of small, round pots or long, parallel tubes, giving the wasps their other common name: organ pipe wasps. Inside each “pipe” are several cells, partitioned off with mud. Every cell includes several paralyzed spiders and a single egg. The mother does not stay to care for her young, and abandons the nest shortly after sealing it.

Eggs and Larvae

Mud daubers hatch shortly after the egg is laid. Mud dauber babies begin to eat the paralyzed spiders in their cells. According to Time Magazine, mud dauber larvae have a closed digestive system. They cannot excrete waste until they have finished their stored food. Once the baby mud dauber consumes all its spiders, it develops an anus, excretes a waste sac and seals off the part of the cell where the waste is stored. The larvae then overwinter in the remaining chamber.

Pupation Stage

When the mud dauber larva is fully grown–at about ¾ of an inch long–it creates a pupa. This special case protects it during the process of changing into an adult. The adult mud dauber emerges in late spring or early in summer, eating its way out of the mud cell. It releases stored waste into the cell, then flies off to feed on flowers and look for a mate.

Mud Dauber Parasitism

One mud dauber species–the blue mud dauber–does not build its own nest. Instead, it takes over the nests of other mud daubers, such as the pipe organ mud dauber and the black and yellow mud dauber. The blue mud dauber moistens the clay cell with water, pulls out the egg and the spiders procured by the nest builder, and lays it own egg inside. Then she provisions the cell with her own spiders, usually black widows, and seals the chamber again.

Other Considerations

Mud daubers are capable of stinging, but rarely act aggressively towards humans. They can actually benefit humans by reducing the local population of dangerous spiders. Homeowners should consider leaving mud daubers and their nests alone unless they pose a specific problem.

Related Articles

Common House Spiders and Their Mating Habits
Types of Flying Insects in Florida
Big Native Spiders in Wisconsin
About the Banana Spider
How Many Eggs Can a House Spider Lay?
Common Mississippi Spiders
Types of Cocoons
The Characteristics of Centipedes
Blood Sucking Insects & Bugs
Indentification of Pacific Northwest Spiders
White Spiders in Florida
Adaptations of the Black Widow
How Do Wasps Make Their Nests?
The Difference Between Carpet Bugs & Bed Bugs
Life Cycle of a Centipede
Common Spiders in South Texas
How to Identify Mason Wasps
Information on the Palm Spider
Types of Octopus
Stinging Insects That Nest in the Ground

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!