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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - August 18, 2006

From: Seguin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Elimination of dirt dauber insects
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello - I live in the southeast part of Guadalupe Co. in the post oak savanna area. Do you have any suggestions on how to control dirt dauber dirt/mud nests. I know these critters are beneficial, but they build numerous nest under our front and back porch and adhere them to rock, wood, etc. Thanks!

ANSWER:

Hmmm—our focus and expertise is in native plants, not insects; but, I'll give your question a stab. You are right that dirt/mud daubers/dobbers are beneficial and they aren't aggressive like the social wasps that build the "paper" nests; but their nests can be a problem, especially if they build them inside machinery. The Iowa State University Department of Entomology says: "There is no proven method that is effective in discouraging wasps from building nests in sheltered or protected areas." About the best you can do is to remove the nests before the larvae hatch into adults, clean the area, and keep on doing this as the new nests appear. At least you will be reducing the adult population that can build new mud nests.
 

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