Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber
(Trypoxylon Politum)
The Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Trypoxylon politum is a type of wasp that builds multiple tubes for nests that resemble a pan flute or pipe organ – hence the name. These wasps are fairly large (one inch in length) and are shiny black or sometimes bluish that are beneficial as they keep down the spider population. Spiders and nectar from flowers are two sources of food for these wasps. Their nests can be a nuisance as they will build on any available protected or sheltered vertical area such as: under decks, porches, garages, protected porch walls or corners. These nests can be scraped off the structure using a putty knife or any other flat surfaced object. The nests are made with mud and saliva to keep them attached to the wall. The female will pick up mud in her mandibles, roll it into a ball and grasp it with her front legs. She will use her forehead to place the mud balls and rub them out into long strips. The nests are usually no longer than six inches long, one to six tubes across and contain about six cell sections in each tube for offspring. Numerous nests can be found together as even though these are solitary wasps, they will tolerate one another having nests close by. Male organ pipe mud daubers are among the few male wasps of any species to stay at the nest. The male protects the nest to prevent theft of food and to keep predators and parasites off the nest while a female is away collecting spiders. Mating typically occurs when the female returns to the nest. The female does not stay with the nest, preferring to hunt, gather and collect for the future offspring and the making of the nest.
The eggs that the female Organ Pipe Mud Dauber lays in the mud cells will produce both male and female wasps. The fertilized eggs become females, and the unfertilized become males. Researchers have found that the female wasp will stash more paralyzed spiders (food) in the cells that fertilized eggs are stored. The reasoning behind this seems to be that a better nourished larva will transform into a larger adult. The female wasps need to be bigger than the males due to the extra energy it takes to produce young.
Organ Pipe Mud Daubers are considered a docile species of wasp. Stings to humans are very rare, almost non-existent. However, if squeezed, Organ Pipe Mud Daubers will sting in self-defense.
If you want to discourage Organ Pipe Mud Daubers from being attracted to your home, you have to consider modifying the habitat area. This means you would need to reduce the availability of the food for these insects to prey on.  Removal of spider webs in corners and crevices, removal of nests and screening or caulking open areas to buildings will prevent nesting in those areas. If you or a loved one has a known allergy to wasp or bee stings, chemical control may be necessary. Pyrethrins or synthetic pyrethroids are known to be effective. Normally, late evening or early mornings are the best time to spray areas as these are the time when there is less activity on the nests. If you are uncomfortable with taking care of the problem, consider hiring a professional in the pest control industry to help you.

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