Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Our House is a Bird Feeder

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

While taking a break from writing this afternoon, I walked over to the back patio. There, around the edge of the metal window frame to the basement guest room, I saw irrefutable evidence that our house is, in fact, a bird feeder. Mud dauber nests!

Several rows of mud dauber nests appear each spring and summer under our deck and around our basement doors and windows. Mud daubers are wasps that build mud nests to protect their eggs. More detailed info on this interesting insect is here.

The mud dauber's eggs are deposited on paralyzed spiders and spiders and eggs are sealed inside the mud casings. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed upon the spiders, then spin a cocoon in which they overwinter. This year's crop of mud daubers didn't make it very far. This afternoon I noticed that a downy woodpecker had found the mud chambers and opened up each one to eat the contents.
In the winter, our Carolina wrens poke around in the nests looking for anything the woodpeckers missed. By the way, the mud dauber wasp is harmless to people--and since it captures and paralyzes spiders--well, we consider it beneficial neighbor. We don't use any insecticides or pesticides, so we can feel good about the birds eating the wasp larvae.

Now if we can just get a kestrel or saw-whet owl to move into our basement to take care of the white-footed mice, we'll be all set.


On September 13, 2006 at 8:11 PM Anonymous said...

Wow, lots of great information in this one! Now I won't be so quick to get rid of the mud dauber nests, Thanks!

On September 13, 2006 at 8:44 PM Hasty Brook said...

I think Susan Gets Native has a solution to your mouse problem!

On September 13, 2006 at 9:14 PM Anonymous said...

I dinna know downies loved the little waspy things. Thanks for info.

Maybe you could put fake hawk wings on Charlie and scare the little mousies to death.

On September 13, 2006 at 9:33 PM Susan Gets Native said...

That's true, Hasty Brook! I haven't caught ONE mouse since Miss Red-Tailed took up residence.
I'm bummed that we don't have any mud daubbers around. We just have the Paper Wasps.

On September 13, 2006 at 9:52 PM Julie Zickefoose said...

I think Hasty Brook was referring to Susan's....CAT.
Naughty Lynne. Not in the market, are we, BOTB?
Although I haven't pulled out the wok in awhile...

On September 13, 2006 at 9:53 PM Julie Zickefoose said...

This is a very cool post. Those downy woodpeckers are not dumb.

On September 14, 2006 at 9:01 AM Over-Caffeinated said...

I think Hasty Brook is right on target.

Julie, I think you may be on the wrong track. Since the ancient Egyptians held the cat in high esteem, you will probably not be able to "Wok Like An Egyptian" with Susan's cat.

I still think Wong Way's Oriental Restaurant is still the best solution. Remember our motto:

"Wong Way's Weely Woks"

On September 14, 2006 at 9:22 AM teageeare said...

Love them little mousies
Mousies what I love to eat
Bite they little heads off
Nibble on they tiny feet

My hubby and I showed up for a "Please Release Me" program at our local nature center. We got to set a couple of white-footed mice free in a local forest preserve. But I really wouldn't like them in my basement.

On September 14, 2006 at 9:31 AM Hasty Brook said...

I was just trying to help... really. ;)

On September 14, 2006 at 9:46 AM Rondeau Ric said...

You have some really strange readers, besides me that is.

Julie, you have to understand that cats are a superior species, just ask them.
As our black cat, Sam, says “Dogs have owners, cats have staff.”

I like spiders, they’re nice and crunchy if you fry them up just right.

I figure there is a natural balance between bugs and spiders at least that’s what our entomologist friend the Nature Nut told me.

I prefer spiders to creepy crawlies.

Daubing away in Rondeau.

On September 14, 2006 at 10:30 AM Patrick Belardo said...

I liked this line in regards to the blue mud dauber: Hosts are mostly black widow spiders.

Eek. Double eek. I'd like to think there are not enough Black Widows around my yard to stuff a mud dauber hole.