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

Types of Flying Insects in Florida
Types of Cocoons
Common House Spiders and Their Mating Habits
What Happens when a Queen Bee Dies?
How Do Sponges Breath?
Life Cycle of a Phylum Platyhelminthes
About the Banana Spider
Big Native Spiders in Wisconsin
Ideas for Making a 3D Model of a Cell
Blood Sucking Insects & Bugs
How Do Wasps Make Their Nests?
Indentification of Pacific Northwest Spiders
Common Spiders in New England
How Many Eggs Can a House Spider Lay?
Life Cycle of a Centipede
Embryonic Development of a Frog
Where Is the Nucleus Found in the Cell and Why?
What Are the Functions of Microfilaments & Microtubules?
How Does an Ant Colony Operate?
Adaptations of the Black Widow

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!