Creepy North Carolina: The Blue Devil / Organ Pipe Mud Dauber Wasp

Since moving to North Carolina from Minnesota four months ago, I’ve been extraordinarily aware of all the creepy crawlies that share my new biome. It seems like each week reveals a new species for me to contemplate. And by contemplate, I mean decide if the species in question freaks me out, or if it’s just interesting.

When it comes to the Organ Pipe Mud Dauber / Blue Devil Wasp, I’m going with interesting — even though its young-rearing behavior is … well let’s say, off-putting.

This set of NARROW tubes is a Blue Devil nest. (Narrow is this week’s Post A Week photo prompt.)

Mud Dauber nest

I came across this construction at a local park, while on a Pokemon hunting excursion, with my daughter (who has been living in NC for seven years or so.) This particular nest is attached to the underside of a park shelter’s roof, in plain sight of the picnic tables below. My daughter identified it as a “mud dauber nest” but didn’t know much beyond that. Later, after the hunt, I was compelled to hit the interwebs to find out more.

It turns out this is the home of a rather special mud dauber. (Not rare, but certainly creepy-cool.) Several species of mud dauber live in North Carolina, but only one builds a nest that resembles a pipe organ.

After reading up on  Trypoxylon politum, I now know that the big, blue-black wasp that was flying around us was the father Devil, guarding the nest. (The species is harmless to humans, and only stings people when tormented.)

I also know that those tubes were crafted by the mother Devil, who transports innumerable tiny balls of mud to the site, and painstakingly builds individual cells into which she will lay eggs. Then she stuffs each cell full of paralyzed spiders, as food to be consumed by her larval offspring. (Whimper.)

You can find more detailed information about the creature, along with other photographs, at the following links:


Find all my photographic projects at Haunting Photos (there’s also a link in the blog header.)

Click to visit the homepage of Post A Week.

Click to visit the homepage of Post A Week.

Here are some of my favorite entries for the NARROW prompt  from others:

(I’ll add more as I have time to browse, so feel free to check back.)

A Haiku on “Narrow” | New York City Pocket Park | Jazz Alley | paths & journeys | pretties in gutters | crematorium | through the forest | butterfly from a different angle | crab spider in rose | the light | nope, nope,nope | narrow street in Prague | a reference to “Laura” | mountain goats | straws | child’s focus | boardwalk in the woods | Yellow | Annie’s Canyon | abandoned kitchen | too narrow for a wheelchair | palm tree | eye of the needle | alley in Hoi An, Vietnam | communications tower in Tasmania | a bee’s passage | American Bittern | Narrow Bridge in G Scale | in the side mirror |