Mud dauber wasps may look menacing, but they are actually fairly harmless to people.
These solitary wasps get their name from the mud they use to make their nests. There are a few different types of mud dauber wasps in the United States, but none of them are aggressive toward humans. Only the females have stingers, and their venom is very mild compared to other wasps and bees.
On the rare chance that you get stung by a female mud dauber, it’s unlikely you’ll experience many symptoms. However, everyone reacts to bug stings and bites differently, so pay attention to your symptoms if you do get stung. You may need a higher level of treatment than basic first-aid care at home.
Female mud daubers can sting, but they rarely sting humans. You would need to agitate a female mud dauber significantly. Mud daubers live on their own and don’t swarm, so it’s unlikely you would encounter a group of them. Other wasps and bees are social. They swarm and sting to defend their homes, but this is not the case with mud daubers.
Mud daubers do not bite.
A mud dauber is unlikely to sting you, but in the event that it does, your symptoms may resemble a typical bug bite or sting. Mud dauber venom is mild, so you may not experience pain or swelling like more aggressive or harmful bees or wasps.
Typical symptoms from bug bites or stings include:
- redness or discoloration
- pain or tingling
Mud dauber wasp venom is meant to capture and paralyze spiders and is not intended for defense like with other wasps and bees. Therefore, it is not typically dangerous to people.
However, it may pose an increased risk for someone if they have an allergic reaction to the venom.
Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you experience symptoms like:
- trouble breathing
- inability to focus
- a rash that appears suddenly
- loss of consciousness
- trouble swallowing
- fast heart rate
- swollen lips and throat
As long as you don’t experience an allergic reaction, you may not feel anything following a mud dauber sting, or you could have mild symptoms. There are some basic first-aid techniques you can try to reduce any symptoms near the sting. These include:
- cleaning the area with soap and water
- applying a cool compress to the area
- using a topical cream, calamine lotion, or baking soda mixed with water to soothe any itching
- taking an over-the-counter pain relief medication
Call a doctor if your symptoms have not gone away or if they worsen after a few days. Seek emergency medical help if you experience any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock following the sting.
A mud dauber wasp is long and has a very thin waist that looks like thread. The spindly waist connects its thorax to its abdomen. Its six legs come out from its thorax. It has two distinctive, large eyes, two antennae, and two long, narrow wings. The mud dauber is between a half inch and an inch long. Females are bigger than males.
Mud daubers prey on spiders, including black and brown widows, so they can be beneficial to the ecosystem where you live. They store captured spiders in their intricate nest of mud cells for their offspring.
There are different types of mud daubers. You can distinguish them by their physical characteristics and their nests. Three common varieties of them in the United States include:
- Sceliphron caementarium is black and yellow, with yellow legs. It creates a mud nest constructed of small, connected rectangular cells. Their nest ends up being about the size of a plum or peach.
- Trypoxylon politum is black and has blue wings and white tips on its hind legs. It builds a mud nest that looks like a pipe organ. The nest is made up of five or six elongated and narrow cavities that connect to one another.
- Chalybion californicum is sparkly blue. This variety does not build its own nests, but instead uses nests built by the other mud daubers. It brings water to these nests to rework them.
It’s unlikely you’ll be stung by a mud dauber wasp or experience serious symptoms if you are stung. Mud daubers tend to keep to themselves and will not strike a human unless provoked. But if you do get stung, treat a mud dauber sting as you would any other bug bite or sting with basic first-aid treatments. Serious symptoms may be the sign of an allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock. These require prompt medical treatment.