Currently viewing the category: "Nests"

What’s that nest?
We have spotted two nests in the yard of a home we’re looking to purchase in southern Illinois that we’d like to have identified. The picture shows one of these nests from above. The nests are pillar-like, and knobby, not just piles of dirt. At the core of the pillar is a hole that’s approximately 1 inch in diameter, the opening of a tunnel that runs into the yard, evidenced by a curvy path of dead grass. The tunnel is not soft like that of a mole. Any ideas? Thanks!
Dayton, OH

Hi Kevin,
Your hole sure looks like a Crayfish burrow to us. These lobster-like crustaceans will bury themselves in the mud when their ponds dry up.

(04/08/2005) Crayfish Burrow
I would like to open by saying that I look at your website a lot and find it very fascinating. Thanks for a great service. I have never mailed before but I had to respond to a picture that you put up today. I am born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana and would like to offer some info on the picture titled ” Crayfish Burrow (04/07/2005) What’s that nest?” You are correct that is a crayfish hole or down here better known as a Crawfish. We have them anywhere near fresh water and they are great to eat!
Thanks again.

Hello from Trinidad and Tobago
Just blogged your site for, and you should get some more viewers that way… 2 reasons for writing. You’re providing an invaluable service, and I’m going to thank you. Because of your site I was able to identify one spider (I forget it’s name) that’s called a tailless scorpion or something… Scared the hell out of me when I was cleaning the yard last year! 🙂 Harmless, and it’s still around. You might find some of these pictures useful: you’re free to use them. Some of them I have no idea of what they are (like the ones near the carilee), but the majority look like stinkbugs – colorful. The Jack Spaniard is very common here. Your site is reaching the size where a content management system might help you – save you and users time, etc. I don’t know how savvy you folks are, but I would suggest Drupal ( ) when the next release comes out. I think your site has grown to a level where, though obviously a labor of love, it might become limiting to you and others. Drupal’s free to use and install. It’s open source. You can do it yourself if you want – and if you run into problems, there are a lot of people who can help. It doesn’t hurt to look. And it could help you get the site to pay for itself by making information easier to find. Good luck, and please keep up the good work. I just thought you might like to consider those ideas.
Taran Rampersad
Presently in: San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago

Hi Taran,
Until our current webhost, who is managing things for us, kicks us to the curb, we are going to keep the status quo, but thanks for the advice. We love your local name for your Polistes Paper Wasp. Do you know the origin of Jack Spaniard?

Speculation: Probably something along the lines of ‘stings like a Spaniard’, especially in a former Spanish and then English colony. Trinidad and Tobago has quite a mix in names because of it’s mixed past. I believe that they call it the same in Guyana. Perhaps it’s a British colonial name for an insect that stings pretty aggressively.

Photo of strange tubular insect home
My fiance has recently moved from Michigan to Noth Carolina. It is amazing how many more bugs live in a sub-tropical climate! Anyhow, she is terrified of these nests she has founbd on her new deck. Can you identufy these nests? Is this something she needs to be aware of or something that presents a possible danger? Thanks for the help,
Charles W. Nivison

Hi Charles,
What a very large photo of a very large ceiling with a little Mud Dauber Nest in the center. These are solitary wasps that build nests of mud and fill them with paralyzed spiders, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, flies or other insects that serve as food for the young. Each species of wasp has a very specific food source. The wasps can sting, but will only do so if provoked, by say, a broom knocking down their nest.
Ed. Note: (09/06/2004) Eric just wrote in identifying the species as the Organ Pipe Mud Dauber, Trypoxylon politum, and informed us they prey on spides only.

Hi Bugman!
(Awsome site, BTW)We have new visitors in our yard (and in my camper). Large cylindrical bees or hornets, nearly 2″ long, black with three white stripes. They look like WWII fighters patrolling over London whenever you get near. Help! I’m ready to give them my tractor AND my camper!
russ therrien
hollywood, MD

Hi Russ,
I’m guessing Bald Faced Hornets, Dolichovespula maculata. These are social wasps that build a large paper nest from regurgitated wood pulp. The nests can be over a foot across that can contain 10,000 hornets. They are aggressive and do not like intruders near the nest and they will sting painfully, swarming and chasing the perpetrator. Unlike bees which die upon stinging, hornets can sting multiple times and live to tell. I hope you don’t have fields to plow or rubber to burn in the near future. I think your tractor and camper are lost to you until the frost which will kill the workers, but the queen hibernates and begins a new colony in the spring.

Hey, my friend found this weird nest/cocoon thing in his shed and its really weird and if you could tell us what its from thatd be great. Its grey and its made of like mud and clay and on the inside it was full of dead house was made in the secind story of his shed, and it was stuck to the side of the wall. the top was rounded with a closed hole and on the bottom there was an open hole. the walls are about about 3mm thick. the flies look like there trapped in some kind of webbing, but not.We live in a small town in Ontario canada. Were about an hour from toronto. Thats pretty much it. If you could get back to me as soon as possible thatd be great casue this thing is really gross and creepy. Thanks.
James and Shannon

Dear James and Shannon,
You found the nest of a mud wasp. Your wasp prefers flies as food. I have a mud nest from the black & yellow mud dauber, Sceliphron caementarium. on my back wall and will post it with your letter in the near future. They generally sting spiders to fill the nest, then lay eggs on the paralyzed spiders and when the young wasps hatch, they have a fresh meal, eating the comatose spiders alive.