Mud daubers!

mud_dauber

Help us use mud dauber wasps to monitor the exotic Joro spider!

We are reaching out to citizen scientists to find nests of the black and yellow mud dauber wasp (Sceliphron caementarium)also known as the “dirt dauber” – in northeastern Georgia.

Mud dauber wasps are harmless to humans, but they hunt spiders – they capture, paralyze, and pack spider prey into a mud nest for their own offspring to eat. They build their nests under the eaves of homes, barns, and bridges where they are sheltered from the elements.

Why are we looking for mud dauber nests in Georgia? We are hoping to use these wasps to help us track the spread of the newly-introduced Joro spider (Nephila clavata) in the area. The Joro spider is a large, colorful spider from Asia that was just discovered for the first time in the US in 2014. To date, the spiders have only been recorded from three counties in NE Georgia and we know little about how far they have spread since this introduction.

By examining the paralyzed spider prey in mud dauber nests, we recently discovered that mud daubers collect these exotic Joro spiders to feed to their young. Mud daubers are often even better than scientists at finding spiders (capturing up to 25 spiders in a single day), so we are recruiting their help to document the spread of this exotic spider species.

We need YOU to help us find more mud dauber nests! This is an opportunity to assist with scientific research and help us understand a biological invasion that may be going on in your backyard. If you spot a mud dauber nest matching this description in northeastern GA, please send us an email (lisa.taylor@ufl.edu) and we will add your nest(s) to our map!

While we are specifically targeting mud dauber nests in NE Georgia at this time, we hope to expand this project across the United States to monitor other introduced spider species in the future. We might need nests near you, so stay tuned!

More information on black and yellow mud daubers, including tips on recognizing and identifying them, can be found here: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/MISC/WASPS/Sceliphron_caementarium.htm.

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