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Thread-Waist Wasp (Sphecidae)

Thread-Waist Wasp

Sceliphron Caementarium

(Order Hymenoptera; Family Sphecidae)

Sceliphron Caementarium, female (By Mackenzie Maki) (Kansas: Wichitia/Andover. Hawthorne Residence. 37°43’39’’N, 97°10’39’’W. In air above woodchips. September 4, 2013.

Thread-Waist Wasp

Sceliphron caementarium

Order: Hymenoptera, Family: Sphecidae

Adult Diagnosis: A large family in North America with more than 1,100 species, the Thread-Waist Wasp is found in Kansas. The species, Sceliphron caementarium, is also referred to as the mud dauber. This hymenopteran is distinguished by the long black antenna stemming from a black body, with yellow legs and yellow marking on the thorax and upper abdomen. The petiolate abdomen is an indication of why the thread-waist wasp received its common name.  The body does not have branched hairs (they are simple) and the first segment of the hind tarsus is the same width and thickness as the remaining segments. The pronotum is usually dorsoventrally straight (in line with the body) and the inner eyes are not notched.  The wings have complete venation with golden borwn wings that lay overlapping the body, flattened, when at rest. The average size is 24-28mm long, but some can get up to 40mm long and as small as 2mm long.

Male (left) and Female (right) Sceliphron caementarium, lateral views. (from:  and


Mating of Thread-Waist Wasps, (from:

Adult/larval Distribution: The distribution of the mud daubers extends from North America through Mexico, Central America, and central Asia. They are common in Kansas.

Geography of the black and yellow mud-dauber wasps

Distribution across the world. (from:

Adult/Larval Natural History:

The Thread-Waist Wasp or Mud Dauber is characterized by the thin, black, petiolate abdomen.  These wasps are usually solitary in sociality, but some may nest in the same small area. Mud Daubers construct their nests out of mud. They may construct their living quarters on bridges, barns, homes, or wooden crevices out of cylindrical cells. Female wasps make up the work force; they capture prey (like spiders, or other insects) and put them in the cell. Capturing spiders on flowers is a common practice; the wasps will grab the spiders using front mandibles and prothoracic legs and proceed to sting until paralyzed. They line up the cells and seal with mud providing shelter for developing eggs/ larva and protection from parasitic insects.

The Thread-Waist Wasps are not known to be aggressive.

They are not reported to sting or attack humans.

Adult wasps’ reproduction consists of females being inseminated by males, and then storage of sperm throughout the lifetime for continual reproduction. The lifecycle is holometabolous.

Thread-Waist Wasp pollenating flowers. “Mud dauber wasp, Sceliphron caementarium. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)” (from:

Adult/Larval Diet: As larva and developing insects, Mud Daubers’ feed on the prey remains within their cell. This nutritious diet is made of spiders mostly, but can extend to moths, crickets, sawfly larva, and grasshoppers. They feed on nectar and pollenate flowers (such as parsnips and water parsnips) as adults.

Adult/Larval Habitat: Adults can be found in open air between flowers, in nests, and on the ground in search of prey. Larval can be found in the nests. The use of aerial nest is best in capturing these wasps.

Conservation Status/ Invasive Species Status: Stable





Photos of wasps: and

Photo of Distribution:



Blackledge, T.A. and K.M. Pickett. 2000. Predatory interactions between mud-dauber wasps (hymenoptera, sphecidae) and Argiope (araneae, araneidae) in capacity. Journal of Arachnology 28:211-216.

Fink, T., V. Ramalingman, J. Seiner, N. Skals and D. Streett. 2007. Buzz digging and buzz plastering in the   black-and-yellow mud dauber wasp, Sceliphron caementarium (Drury). Journal of Acoustical Society of America 122: 2947-2948.

Tumilty, Hannah. "Sceliphron Caementarium." BioWeb. TemplateDesign, Jan. 2007. Web. 12 Nov.        2013.

Submitted by: Mackenzie Maki, November 2013.

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