Mud wasps are large, solitary Australian wasps.
Mud wasps: solitary and harmless
Mud wasps are large, solitary Australian insects that build nests of mud and provide live, paralysed prey for their larvae to feed on.
1 October 2008 | Updated 14 October 2011
There are many different species of Australian mud wasps in the Families Vespidae and Sphecidae. They vary in size and colour but are often all black or black with orange or yellow bands or markings. They build nests of mud or 'clay'.
Mud wasps are found all over Australia and in all terrestrial habitats.
They are solitary insects and the nest is constructed by a single female wasp. Some species attach nests to rock faces, tree trunks or buildings.
Others build inside cavities, such as holes in tree trunks or machinery and in infrequently used taps and pipes or the handles of tools left outside.
They are part of Australia’s native fauna and should be left alone if possible.
Typically, the female wasp catches a particular an insect or spider (what depends on the species of wasp) then stings and paralyses it. She then carries it back to the nest, lays an egg on it and seals the nest. The wasp grub hatches, consumes the food provided and pupates in the cell. When the adult emerges it chews its way out of the cell.
Adults feed on nectar and drink water. Sometimes the wasps can be seen gathering mud at the edges of streams, dams or puddles.
Mud wasps are not pests. The females are not aggressive and rarely sting.
They are part of Australia’s native fauna and should be left alone if possible. If a mud nest is considered unsightly it can be knocked off, which is probably best done when the owner of the nest is not around.
CSIRO Entomology is not currently researching mud wasps. This fact sheet is provided for information only.
Find out about more Australian insects.