An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter of October 6, 2008
issued from the Yucatán, México

MUD-DAUBER ON MY SHIRT

MUD-DAUBER nestI keep all my clothing hanging on a rope strung across my room, for if I store things in a box or suitcase they'll soon mildew -- develop dark speckling and they'll stink. The other day I went down the line fluffing out things to keep them dry and was surprised to find stuck on a shirt what you see at the right.

The shirt had been hanging next to a window and a mud-dauber wasp had entered many times with loads of mud and built a cylindrical, dried-mud nest on the shirt. Once a mud chamber was created, an egg was laid inside and then the chamber was provisioned with stung spiders or maybe caterpillars or other such critters, and finally the tube was sealed. At the lower left in the picture an inset shows the sealed hole.

I removed the nest and stuck it in a dry crack between two cinderblocks.

Last week we looked at paper wasps and their covered nest outside my door. If you look at my Wasp Page at   you'll see that my paper wasps are probably members of the subfamily Vespinae of the family Vespidae, because that subfamily is the only one mentioned producing nests consisting of "papery cells surrounded by covering."

Similarly, my shirt-loving mud-dauber probably provisioned her nest with spiders, because in the list of families at the above link the main prey for most mud-nest-building wasps is spiders.

The wasp world is vast and complex. On my Wasp Page, that outline of the most common wasp families, their prey and nest types can help you organize your thoughts about them.