Ever heard of a black and yellow mud dauber (Sceliphron caementarium)? Here is a pest identification about the black and yellow mud dauber, Sceliphron caementarium (Drury), which is a common and widely distributed solitary sphecid wasp that hunts spiders and builds characteristic mud nests for their offspring 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. Stings are rare and not of medical importance to humans.
Sceliphron caementarium is native to North America and has been reported in Central and South America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and on islands such as New Zealand, Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, and Madeira. In North America, they can be found throughout the United States, in southern Canada, and Mexico.
This black wasp has yellow markings and a very thin, long pedicel (the structure that connects the thorax and abdomen). Yellow markings vary among individuals but are likely to be found on the base of the antenna (the scape), the dorsal side of the thorax, the base of the abdomen where it meets the pedicel, and the legs. Females are larger than males, measuring 23 to 25 mm in length, while males are approximately 21 mm in length. Nests are clustered rectangular structures.
The body form is narrowly elongated and with a very narrow constriction at the base of the abdomen. The primary color of this wasp is black with yellow stripes across the body and band the legs.
Scientific Name: Sceliphron caementarium (Drury)
Order: Hymenoptera (Bees, Wasps, Ants, Sawflies)
Family: Sphecidae (Hunting Wasps)
Life History and Habits
This mud dauber is a solitary hunting wasp that preys on spiders. Orb-weaver spiders are most commonly attacked, including cat-faced spiders, but crab spiders and wolf spiders are also sometimes used.
Their nests are in the form of cylindrical mud cells that are constructed by the female. While it is under construction, the female repeatedly visits a muddy patch to collect a ball of mud which is used to build out a nest cell. To complete the nest construction, approximately 30-40 trips in an hour may be needed. When a female has completed nesting the site, the entire group of nest cells is further covered with mud.
The female then searches for spider prey to provision the nest cell. Each spider is paralyzed by a well-placed sting then carried back to the nest cell; between 6-15 spiders typically are captured to provision each cell. When it is full, she lays an egg in it then covers the cell with a thick plug of mud. If provisioning is not completed by the end of the day, a thin mud cap is constructed to exclude parasite. The wasps leave the nest at night to rest on nearby vegetation and return the following day to complete work at the nest site.
Larvae that develop in early summer pupate then later emerge to produce a second generation of adult wasps that are active later in summer. Larvae that develop in nests that were provisioned in August or later go into a suspended state of development (diapause) when full-grown. They subsequently do not pupate until the following spring, and the first generation adults then emerge in late May or early June of the next season.
Like other solitary hunting wasps of the family Sphecidae the black and yellow mud dauber is not aggressive and will sting only if it is held or trapped next to the body. This wasp’s sting is mild and much less painful than that of social wasps (e.g., yellowjackets, baldfaced hornet, European paper wasp) or social bees (e.g., honey bee, bumble bees).
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