Our House is a Bird Feeder
While taking a break from writing this afternoon, I walked over to the back patio. There, around the edge of the metal window frame to the basement guest room, I saw irrefutable evidence that our house is, in fact, a bird feeder. Mud dauber nests!
Several rows of mud dauber nests appear each spring and summer under our deck and around our basement doors and windows. Mud daubers are wasps that build mud nests to protect their eggs. More detailed info on this interesting insect is here.
The mud dauber's eggs are deposited on paralyzed spiders and spiders and eggs are sealed inside the mud casings. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed upon the spiders, then spin a cocoon in which they overwinter. This year's crop of mud daubers didn't make it very far. This afternoon I noticed that a downy woodpecker had found the mud chambers and opened up each one to eat the contents.
In the winter, our Carolina wrens poke around in the nests looking for anything the woodpeckers missed. By the way, the mud dauber wasp is harmless to people--and since it captures and paralyzes spiders--well, we consider it beneficial neighbor. We don't use any insecticides or pesticides, so we can feel good about the birds eating the wasp larvae.
Now if we can just get a kestrel or saw-whet owl to move into our basement to take care of the white-footed mice, we'll be all set.