Saturday, June 2

Today’s good deed

As I sat at my computer answering requests from Muir Trail hikers needing mailing labels for their resupply buckets they’ll be sending to the ranch this summer, I saw that we had a few mud dauber wasps in the house. They were at the windows, trying to get outside so they could find some mud to make their nests for the next generation of mud daubers. What a curious existence, I mused. The wasps had only recently emerged from their mud incubators and already they were preparing to build more nests for more daubers.

The process goes like this: First they gather little globs of mud, about the size of a really tiny pea or a rice grain. They stick that piece of mud to a solid surface, preferably where it won’t get rained on, like inside a building. They keep adding more mud daubs, making tubes. Our wood shed is replete with nests, some of which have expanded over several generations to become big enough to plant an oak tree in. They lay an egg in the tube, then go hunting for spiders to anesthetize and stick in the tube as food for the baby. So here we have a nest about the size of a walnut with several tubes stuffed with spiders sealed shut with mud. Inside that walnut is a bunch of snoring spiders, awaiting their opportunity to become food for a tiny little maggoty thing several months down the line. Once the maggot metamorphoses to a fully-fledged wasp it chews its way out of the mud house and flies away to find a mate.

Whoever thought this up?! What a crazy existence! Is it some plan to rid the world of spiders? If so let me tell you it isn’t working so far. But still, I respect nature’s plan and want to support parts of it at least.

Back to the wasps buzzing around me as I sat at the computer. (Actually, they don’t buzz—at least to my tinnitus-ravaged ears.) I put out the thought message to them that if they would land on the nearby window, I would capture them with a plastic tumbler and stiff card and take them outside. To my pleasure, four of them took up my offer and now are outside hunting for mud. They could have found dirt in the house, but thankfully not mud.

Makes me happy.

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