How to Get Rid of Mud Daubers (Mud Wasps) – RidMyCritters.com (2023)

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Updated on October 14, 2022

Have you ever gone outside and noticed a strange mud structure on the side of your home or shed? These nests can be quite attractive or rather unsightly, depending on the species that made it, but they all contain critters that look very similar to wasps.

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These are mud dauber nests.

There’s a lot to know about these insects, some of which might surprise you. And if you still want to get rid of them, we’ll show you several ways to safely remove them from your home and property.

Table of Contents

Getting to Know Mud Daubers

Mud daubers can be scary when you see one, but their looks can be misleading. In fact, mud daubers are considered beneficial insects. Let’s take a closer look (from a safe distance) at these critters, what they do, and whether we should be worried about them.

Mud Dauber vs Wasp

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First of all, it should be noted that mud daubers actually ARE wasps from two different families.

They can be found throughout North America and tend to be diurnal, coming out in warm weather to collect mud from puddles. At around one inch long, daubers have narrow waists and tend to be either black and yellow or a metallic dark blue to black.

Did You Know?

Mud daubers get their name because they build mud daub nests. If you aren’t sure what daub is, it’s basically a sort of mortar made out of mud and is still used by humans to this day to build wattle and daub huts (wattle referring to the pattern created from the sticks over which daub is smeared).

Nesting Habits

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Mud daubers tend to be solitary and are usually placed into three categories based in part on their nest designs:

  • Organ pipe mud daubers (Crabronidae family) create long mud tubes that resemble the pipes of a pipe organ that can be either horizontal or vertical and are found attached to bridges, caves, and cliffs.
  • Black and yellow mud daubers (Sphecidae family) have round nests filled with long, cylindrical mud tubes that are usually attached to cracks, corners, and crevices.
  • Metallic-blue mud daubers (also Sphecidae family) are sort of the odd one out, as they claim the nests of other mud daubers, using water to modify them for personal use.

While it might look like these wasps are building colonies, the tubes actually contain multiple cells in which paralyzed prey is placed. The dauber lays a single egg on each of its prey and the larvae eat the host bug alive.

Because of the dauber’s solitary habits, they’re known to build their nests in parts of human structures that rarely see traffic, such as attics, barns, and sheds. It’s extremely rare for them to build a nest in major living areas or near frequently-used entrances.

It should also be noted that another group of wasps, the potter wasps, also tend to make mud nests and have many of the same habits as mud daubers. The key difference is that potter nests literally resemble clay pottery.

Mud dauber nests can be quite striking to look at, especially those of the organ pipe daubers, but they’re often a far greater pest than the daubers themselves. The nests can clog equipment and short out circuitry. Mud daubers have even been blamed for airline incidents.

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Another issue is that the mud daubers only use the nests for reproduction, so defense isn’t something they think about, especially since they only live for a year. This can lead to other wasp species claiming the nests for their own.

If you see more than one wasp around a mud dauber nest, this is likely what has happened.

Mud Dauber Diet

Mud daubers and other wasps are omnivores, and a typical mud dauber diet tends to make them quite beneficial to gardeners. Insects, and flower nectar not only give them food, but makes the mud dauber a combination of natural predator and pollinator for many plants.

Even more importantly, they tend to prefer spiders for their egg hosts and are particularly fond of black widows. There’s even a species that specifically targets cicadas for their egg hosts.

On the flip side, mud daubers are a popular snack for insectivore birds, so keeping them around can also attract various species of songbird you can enjoy.

Do Mud Daubers Pollinate?

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While mud daubers are considered pollinators, they don’t pay much attention to pollen. Instead, they’re more likely to pollinate nectar-bearing plants normally dependent upon butterflies and hummingbirds.

However, they can also end up carrying pollen between flowers while hunting for insects. This makes them a valuable ally for gardens in locations that are less likely to get major pollinators.

Are Mud Daubers Aggressive?

This is a common misconception among most wasp and bee species. The simple truth is that mud daubers are more interested in what they’re doing than they are in what you’re doing. As long as you leave a mud dauber alone, they’ll go about their business and forget you’re even there.

Do Mud Daubers Sting or Bite?

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So what happens if you DO come into contact with a mud dauber? Will they attack? The answer is actually based on how threatened they are.

A mud dauber’s stinger is used primarily to paralyze spiders to be used as egg hosts, and they would rather not use their stinger outside of this purpose. In fact, if you destroy a mud dauber nest, the dauber will just go somewhere else and only strike if you try to destroy the nest while they’re inside it at the time.

Mud dauber stings are very mild compared to other stinging insects, although the venom can still trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals. Still, if you have a real fear of getting stung, don’t start swatting at a nearby mud dauber.

Getting Rid of Mud Daubers

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It’s surprisingly easy to get rid of a mud dauber, and not much more difficult to keep them away. Just note that these insects are almost entirely beneficial, so you might wantto let them hang around.

SHOULD You Get Rid of Mud Daubers?

Due to the fact that mud daubers are beneficial insects, it’s important to ask this question before you go after them. These little critters can do a lot of good and aren’t really pests – although their nests CAN be a problem.

Before deciding whether to kill, relocate, or coexist with a mud dauber, ask yourself the following:

  1. Is the nest in a place where it can interfere with electrical equipment or airflow?
  2. Is the nest somewhere a child or pet is likely to come into contact with it?
  3. Does your property have other wasp species present which might lay claim to the nest?
  4. Do you or a loved one have an allergy to bee and wasp stings?
  5. Do you have a garden that doesn’t attract enough pollinators or has too many insect pests?
  6. Do you live in an area where black widow spiders are common?*

Looking at the five questions, if you answered yes to question 4, you’ll want the wasp completely off your property and extermination may be the easiest option.

A yes to questions 1, 2, and 3 means removing the nest itself may be the easiest option and the mud dauber will simply relocate to another part of the property or leave the property altogether.

For questions 5 and 6, a yes means you should seriously consider allowing the mud dauber to remain where it is (unless, of course, you also answered yes to other questions).

Note that in the case of the last question, there are several species of black widow that the mud dauber will target. The iconic southern black widow (Latrodectus mactans) is common from Florida to Texas and as far north as Ohio.

Meanwhile, the northern black widow (Latrodectus variolus) is most common in the mid-Atlantic states into parts of Canada during the summer, and as far west as Wisconsin. Both species have become naturalized in Hawai’i.

Black widows aren’t always deadly (depending on the species), but they’re quite nasty and mud daubers can eliminate them before you even notice there’s a problem.

How to Remove a Mud Dauber Nest

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Unless you’re severely allergic, the single best way to get rid of this type of wasp is to simply remove their homes. This is an incredibly easy task unless the nest is on a fragile surface such as stucco.

To remove, simply wait until the dauber isn’t home and use a paint scraper or putty knife to separate the nest from the surface it’s attached to. Mud daubers often “close the door” when at home, but this isn’t a foolproof method of telling whether they’re home or not, and organ pipe species have far too many doors to begin with.

Be sure to wear some protective gloves just in case, and don’t worry if you see some spiders falling out – they’re completely paralyzed and you can simply put them out of their misery with your shoe.

But what about stucco and other surfaces that can be easily damaged by scraping? For these, a high pressure garden hose can be enough. Remember, these are daub nests, meaning they’ll melt if you get them wet enough (humans make daub with straw and other additives to reduce the risk of erosion). Just spray them and they’ll slowly soften to the point you can remove them without harming the surface.

In both cases, you can simply wash away any remaining mud residue, discarding the remains of the nest in the trash.

But wait! There’s one more removal option for those with a steady hand: nest relocation!

Nest Relocation

For this method, you’ll want to act at night and definitely wear some protective gear. You may also want to carefully plug the holes with cotton balls while you work.

Using a bowl of water to keep the knife wet, gently work the nest away from the wall, working your way around. Using a dropper to add water directly to the seams and giving it a moment to soften the mud will also help.

When you finally separate the nest from the surface it was attached to, you can relocate the entire nest to another spot where it won’t be in the way. Be gentle so you won’t damage the nest or agitate the dauber inside. Once the nest is in its new home, slowly remove the cotton doorstops so the dauber can get in and out again.

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Killing Mud Daubers

Again, this tends to be an extreme and unnecessary response, but may be the best option for households that have a severe bee and wasp allergy. You can use several basic methods, all of which are quick and effective since you only have one wasp to deal with:

  1. Wasp freeze sprays are messy but highly effective. They’re best used at night by spraying directly into the nest’s openings.
  2. Insecticidal sprays (like Spectracide) will also work wonders but can leave behind residue.
  3. Since daubers are solitary critters, they can be killed with a flyswatter.
  4. Inaccessible nests can be sprinkled with food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) which will slowly kill any insect unfortunate enough to be lacerated by its sharp surfaces.

Preventing Mud Daubers

Keeping daubers away from your property is actually quite easy. Here are some quick tricks to keep your property dauber-free:

  1. Mud daubers seek out places where there are prey (especially spiders), so one of the best methods you can use is to simply eliminate any spiders or webbing around the property.
  2. On the flip side, consider having bird feeders that cater to insectivores such as orioles and starlings. The more birds hanging out on the property, the more unattractive it will be for a mud dauber.
  3. You will also want to seal any possible entry points, including cracks or crevasses on external structures such as decks.
  4. Peppermint or citrus oil sprays will repel daubers and many other pests.
  5. Vinegar also repels a number of pests, but be careful using it around plans.
  6. For reasons not entirely known, mud daubers tend to avoid the color blue.
  7. Plant insect-repelling herbs in your garden.
  8. Forbid the possession or use of Bingo equipment on your property.

FAQs

How do you keep mud daubers away? ›

With only a few drops of peppermint oil in warm water, you can stop mud daubers from making their nests around your home. Pour the mixture into a sizeable spray bottle, and spray it on spots where you don't want the insects to visit. Peppermint odor is very active in keeping mud daubers away.

How do you get rid of mud daubers DIY? ›

Get a teaspoon of peppermint oil and dilute with water, then spray around the areas infested with daubers or areas that can be potentially infested with them. Mud daubers will stay away from wherever peppermint oil is poured.

What do dirt daubers hate? ›

Like almost all insects, mud dauber wasps hate the smell of peppermint. Spray peppermint-infused scent across areas where mud dauber wasps have built or might build their nests to keep them from setting up camp.

What spray kills dirt daubers? ›

Pyrid Insecticide Aerosol is a ready to use pyrethrin aerosol designed for quick treatment of various insects like mud daubers. This product works immediately on contact, knocking down pests that make contact with the spray. Use the product as a direct spray on outdoor areas where you have noticed the mud daubers.

How do you stop mud wasps from building nests? ›

Spray individual adults with an aerosol labelled for wasps. The mud nests and surrounding surfaces can be sprayed with any residual insecticide labelled for wasps. However, it is important to ensure the mud nest is thoroughly soaked to ensure the insecticide penetrates the mud cell to the larva inside.

What kills wasps instantly? ›

Use soap and water

Mix two tablespoons of dish soap into a spray bottle of water and spray it on the nests. The mixture will clog the wasps' breathing pores and kill them instantly.

How many mud daubers live in a nest? ›

Typically there is only one individual in each nest or burrow. If the nest is constructed of mud, this is one of several species of mud dauber. Mud daubers are solitary wasps that construct small nests of mud on the sides of buildings, rafters of open structures, bridges and similar sites.

Should you get rid of mud daubers? ›

The only sign you usually see is their nest, which many experts recommend leaving alone. However, if you find that a mud dauber has built a nest in a visible location on your home or in a place that causes you inconvenience, then it's okay to remove their nest. They will likely go quietly and rebuild elsewhere.

What are mud wasps attracted to? ›

Mud daubers are looking for food, shelter, and places to lay eggs. This means mud daubers are primarily attracted to: Mud: Mud is the primary source of material for building mud dauber nests. Water: Mud daubers are looking for accumulated water to drink and build nests with.

What smell do wasps hate the most? ›

There are several essential oils you can use to safely and effectively repel wasps. Peppermint oil on its own has been shown to act as a natural repellent for wasps and bees, or you can use a combination of clove, geranium, and lemongrass essential oils as a natural pest control method.

Are dirt daubers and mud daubers the same thing? ›

Mud dauber (or "mud wasp" or "dirt dauber") is a name commonly applied to a number of wasps from either the family Sphecidae or Crabronidae which build their nests from mud; this excludes members of the family Vespidae (especially the subfamily Eumeninae), that are instead referred to as "potter wasps".

What is the difference between a wasp and a mud dauber? ›

While wasps have bright yellow stripes along their body, mud daubers usually only have a couple of yellow stripes, if any. They're usually a solid black or brown color, and the biggest difference between the two is that mud daubers have an extremely slender torso – about as narrow as a string.

Should you block up a wasps nest? ›

You should never try to remove a nest yourself or block up the entrance. Blocking an entrance/exit to a wasps nest causes the wasps to become agitated and try to find another way out, which can do more damage as they try to chew through the walls of the house.

How do you keep wasp nests from coming back? ›

How to prevent wasp nests
  1. Remove sources of food from around your porch. ...
  2. Keep doors and windows shut. ...
  3. Place wasp-repelling plants around your home and porch. ...
  4. Check for nests. ...
  5. Seal garbage cans and cover compost piles. ...
  6. Pick up trash. ...
  7. Cover any holes on the ground.
6 Aug 2019

How do professionals get rid of wasps nests? ›

Try to cover the nest with powder either direct from the pack, or preferably using the Polminor Duster Bellows. The Digrain Wasp and Hornet Nest Killer Aerosol (professional use) could be used if you were trained as a professional, with this product you could treat the nest from around 6-8 feet away.

Does Dawn dish soap get rid of wasps? ›

The fact is, ordinary liquid soap in a spray bottle works as well as anything I've ever tried when it comes to dropping and killing wasps around the house.

What does Dawn soap do to wasps? ›

Mix 2 tablespoons of dish soap in a spray bottle and fill with water. The soap will clog their spiracles, the pores that they breathe through, and will kill them almost immediately.

Does Dawn dish soap repel wasps? ›

Yes, you can kill wasps with dish soap. The soapy water can also kill bees and hornets. Dish soap works because it helps the water get through the exoskeleton of the wasp, which can then drown the stinging pest. This method can be particularly useful when you find a loan wasp who wandered into your home.

What is the season for mud daubers? ›

Mud daubers start to become active in spring and grow their populations all year long. Though they are not as dangerous or aggressive as a wasp such as a yellow jacket, these stinging insects can ruin your day if you come in contact with them.

Do mud daubers use the same nest every year? ›

While most mud daubers make new nests for each generation, a few species will reuse old mud nests constructed by other mud daubers. Mud daubers complete one or two generations per year, depending on the species.

Are mud daubers active at night? ›

All wasps, including mud dauber wasps, are inactive at night and sure aren't going to be there," he says. "If you keep doing that, that'll discourage them. You can also wait until they're completely finished with it, and then the wasps leave on their own, and then go out there and knock that down.

What are dirt daubers attracted to? ›

Mud daubers eat plants, and nectar and sometimes feed on spiders and other small insects. They are generally attracted to sweet fruits and flowers, so keep that in mind to avoid them.

Do mud daubers sting or bite you? ›

With mud daubers, as with all flying, venomous insects, there's always the possibility of these insects stinging humans or animals. Mud dauber stings, however unlikely, can cause swelling and redness.

What purpose do mud daubers serve? ›

No, mud daubers are harmless and actually beneficial. They prey on spiders, including black widows, a favorite prey. They pack each cell with up to 25 to 30 spiders for their young. With about 15 to 20 cells per nest, that's over 500 spiders eaten.

What do mud daubers turn into? ›

The mud dauber larvae will hatch from the eggs and feed on the prey left behind by the adult female mud dauber. Then, the larvae will develop into pupae, a process that usually takes about three weeks. The pupae will spin a silk cocoon to overwinter until the following spring when they become adults.

How long do mud daubers live? ›

Mud daubers live for about one year and go through 4 life stages. Mud daubers rarely sting, but can sting repeatedly. Mud daubers are a common predator to spiders, including black widows.

Do mud daubers put spiders in their nest? ›

In each cell of her nest, a female mud dauber lays a single egg which she provisions with up to twenty-five live, paralyzed spiders. Mud dauber nests may be considered a nuisance because they are often built on urban structures.

Can mud daubers harm you? ›

Mud Daubers Vs.

A wasp sting is painful and can trigger anaphylaxis shock in pets and people. Mud daubers, on the other hand, rarely sting. They are not considered dangerous.

How long does it take a mud dauber to build a nest? ›

The whole nest building process can take from 3 hours to 2 to 3 days. It usually ends when the wasp runs out of spiders or energy. During this nest building process, the female does all the work. The male remains in the nest, guarding it to make sure that no parasites get into the nest cells before they are sealed.

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