Mud Daubers (Sphecidae and Crabronidae)
One of the most common types of wasp here in the Northwest, Mud Daubers are distinct from other wasps in a manner of ways. They don’t colonize, and they’re much less aggressive than yellowjackets. They are often seen around pools in the summer, collecting mud.
- Appearance: Mud Daubers come in many different colors, but they’re most commonly black and yellow. They have a long, thread like waist and curly antennae.
- Behavior: Mud Daubers don’t colonize like some other wasps do. Fertilized queens lay their eggs in the fall and pack their nests with hunted insects for the larva to eat once they hatch.
- Nests: Mud Daubers collect mud to make little domes to lay their eggs in. They like to make their little sod houses on the underside of shelters, such as exposed beams, in tool storage sheds, and attics.
- Bites & Stings: All wasps are capable of inflicting painful stings, which are especially dangerous to those who are allergic to their venom. This particular species is one of the less aggressive though, and won’t go out of their way to sting.
Paper Wasps (Polistinae)
Paper wasps are most easily recognized by their distinctive nests, which are often found under eaves and other sheltered areas. They form an umbrella shaped nest out of a “paper” they make of saliva and plant material. While they aren’t as aggressive as some other wasps, they do sting if they feel threatened. They can be beneficial to gardeners as they pollenate and hunt insects, but it is undesirable to have them nest near your home.
- Appearance: The name “Paper Wasp” actually refers to several species. The ones most common in the Northwest have shiny yellow and black striped bodies (similar to a yellow jacket), and range from 1/2 an inch to 1 inch long.
- Behavior: While not aggressive, paper wasps ARE territorial- and unlike bees, they can (and will) sting as many times as they feel necessary to protect their nests. Their diet consists of pollen and nectar, as well as insects that they feed to their young. They may also be attracted to meats and sugary foods and drinks, so it is wise to keep those items covered or sealed during the warm months. When cold weather comes, the males will die off and the fertilized queens for seek shelter for the winter.
- Nests: The Paper Wasp is sometimes called the Umbrella Wasp because of the unique shape of their nests. They chew up wood and other plant material to make a paste, which dries in to a paper like material. These nests are usually found in sheltered areas, such as eaves, window sills, and attics. the top of the “umbrella” is smooth, and the underside is made up of exposed hexagonal cells.
- Bites & Stings: Paper wasps can be aggressive, but they usually won’t bother you unless they feel attacked. Never swat at them, because it triggers pheromones that label you as a dangerous target. If they do sting you, the best thing to do is leave the area as quickly as you can. Some people are allergic to wasp venom. If you experience any allergic symptoms, contact your emergency medical provider immediately.