What the heck is this thing?

I have a garbage can in my garage. (My area went to city provided garbage cans, so I don’t have a use for it, but it’s too big to throw away.) Some weeks ago I noticed a dirt clod on the handle, like it’d been tipped into the mud, and a chunk of it had clung to the handle and dried up. I thought it strange, because I hadn’t noticed it before, and it hadn’t been near mud for some time. Yesterday, I saw that six small holes had been burrowed from inside the clod, in an elongated hexagon pattern. It’s some kind of weird chrysalis! So, my question is, what terror have I allowed to escape into my garage?

Let it hatch and see!

Sounds like a hornet(or wasp, I dunno the dif) nest. They collect mud to build them. They’ve been quite busy the last couple weeks in my part of So. Cal.

Sounds much like a mud dauber wasp. They mold mud into a set of tubular cavities an inch long, quarter inch in diameter, stuff some food in (dead/paralyzed spiders?) and lay one egg in each tube before sealing up the end with more mud. The larva that hatches sustains itself inside the mud chaimber until transforming into an adult wasp.

I have no idea how long this process takes…

Thank god. I thought it might be body snatchers, or worse … termites. I can deal with wasps.

Reminds me of one of the most perplexing questions of all time i believe I’ll start a new hread :slight_smile:

Don’t worry. If they really are mud dauber wasps, they don’t sting.


Whats,we call um dirt daubers being at least alliterative if illiterate southerners. The spider and more often caterpillars are paralyzed by the sting.So Greg,it might not be Body Snatchers,more like the Nightmare of the Living Dead.And before you go to omnis thread get creative, if the can is in good shape and clea there may be a use for it.I bought one specifically to dip the dogs,easier than the washtub way.I heard of a guy who grew potatoes in one,threw in a foot of compost,the spuds and covered with compost. As the tater vines grew he threw in more compost till it was full.Come fall he dumped it over and had a big can of taters.
Give it to the kids tell um it’s a drum,send them over to where that guy who plays his stereo full bass all weekend lives.

      • Mud daubers don’t kill the spiders. If you find a wasp dragging an immobile spider along the ground, you have a dauber wasp and victim. If you drive the wasp off and have half an hour or so to watch, you will see that the spider will vvvvvvvveeeeeeerrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyy sssssssllllllooooooowwwwwwllllllllyyyyyyyyy walk away. And most likely fall victim to something else, but oh well (I do not know if spiders recover from the sting, even if they are protected from other predators). - MC

The spider will never recover from the wasps paralyzing sting. They remain in “suspended animation”, or “alive, but in super low gear”
till the egg in the tube with it hatches. The larvae will then consume the spider/s and enter its pupa stage, after which it emerges as a fully formed wasp and chews the cover off the tube to escape.
BTW, they WILL sting, but only if really forced to. If you don’t grab them, they’re usually pretty docile (unless you happen to be a spider).


“Moderate strength is shown in violence, supreme strength is shown in levity.”~~G.K.Chesterton 1908

Dirtdaubers are pretty annoying. They infest any cool, out-of-the-sun overhang in Mississippi. My grandfather’s wood garage was pretty much a big breeding ground for them, and in the winter he’d go in there with a broomstick and knock all the nests down. Next season they’d be rebuilt. They’re 100 percent dried mud and sand and can last for years.

They would also make pan-pipe shaped nests on concrete walls in the basement. They DO sting, but you have to get them mad.

I think “mud/dirt dauber” is one of those imprecise terms that can mean completely different species depending on who says it.

The wasps that we called “dirt daubers” when I was growing up may not have been Genuine Official Mud Dauber™ brand Wasps, but they definitely stung, and the best way to make them mad was to get near them. Say, within a block or so.

This is all very interesting, but Grag’s initial post just begs for an answer to this question – “Just how do you throw away an old trash can?”

WHY throw it away? Is there something wrong with it? Use it for something else:

Clean it really good, cut some holes around it, fill it with dirt and grow potatoes in it.
Use it as a compost bin
Use it to store your garden tools in
Use it to compost leaves (really good if you have roses)

There must be other things you could do with it… any more ideas out there?

Oh, and if you simply MUST throw it out (too yucky to clean) I would suggest cutting it up and putting in your city can. Or recycle it if it’s the right kind of plastic.

Hey Chief, I beat ya to it. Don’t go stealin’ my thunder. :slight_smile: