Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

February 5, 2015
Blue mud daubers help society by hunting black widows

Having many intimidating features, the blue mud dauber is a fearful-looking insect that physically resembles an excessively large black wasp. Identified to be strong hunters with black and metallic blue-tint body colors, the blue mud dauber is weaponized with a stinger, and is known for mainly pursuing one of the world’s most poisonous spiders.

Despite the blue mud dauber’s appearance and capabilities, they are peaceful and rarely known to sting or resort to aggressive behavior. They are in fact, helpful to the environment by keeping black widows from overpopulating. However, if they are harassed in an unnecessary manner, they will sting to protect themselves.

Blue mud daubers may hunt for black widows, but these spiders are not intended to fulfill their entire appetite. Adults feed on honeydew produced from aphids; they also pollinate and drink nectar from flowers. Black widows are captured so they may be brought back to their mud-constructed nests, from which awaits their carnivorous larvae entombed inside a cell.

Unlike other species of mud daubers, the blue mud dauber does not build its own nest. It simply uses abandoned nests from yellow and black mud daubers, but they transform the nest by retrieving water and contorting the mud to suit their own satisfaction. After the female finds a nest, mates, and lays her egg inside a nest-cell, the blue mud dauber will begin seeking a black widow. They will sting, paralyze and carry it back to the nest. Because of the intentional paralyzing sting that keeps the black widow preserved, the female entombs the helpless spider with her eggs. Inside the cocooned cell, the egg hatches and consumes the black widow over the winter, allowing it to survive and grow until it can leave the nest in the spring.

Taylor Lindsay is a writer and photographer of wildlife creatures big and small. She can be reached at CritterChatter@live.com.

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