Mud WaspAbispa ephippium

The common name Mud Wasp is commonly interchanged with the common name Potter Wasp or Mud Dauber, and not to be confused for the Australian Hornet (Delta latreillei, previously classified as Eumenes latreilli).

In Australia, the term ‘hornet’ is often applied to any large wasp, particularly if it should be black and orange. However, this use of the term is incorrect as true hornets do not occur in Australia.

Hornets and Large Wasps, Entomology Factsheets, Western Australian Museum

The Mud Wasp and Mud Dauber, belong to the genus Abispa sp that includes similarly coloured wasps with orange and black markings.

The common names of Potter Wasp, Mud Wasp, Mud Dauber, alludes to the fact that the material they use to build their nests is sourced from available local mud, which can vary in colour from the reddish brown to sandy coloured soil. One of the differences between the common name Mud Wasp and the Mud Dauber, who also build their nests from mud, is that the Mud Dauber wasp fill their nest cells with paralysed spiders to provide food for their larvae.

These particular Australian wasps are solitary insects, that belong to the vespid family Vespidae of insects that are native to Australia. This family of insects is said to number nearly 5,000 species, that include eusocial wasps as well as the many species of solitary wasps.

Found throughout Australia, and quite common in Central Australia, the Mud Wasp, Mud Dauber, Potter Wasp are usually found where there is access to water, including ponds and pools, especially as these provide a source of water, from which they mix with clay type sand to create a mud paste for making their nests and adding to existing mud nests.

Mud Wasp (Abispa ephippium), Alice Springs, NT
Mud Wasp (Abispa ephippium) beside a fish pond in Alice Springs, NT

The nests of the Potter Wasp are varied in size and shapes, subject to the different species of mud wasps. They are often built against the walls of buildings, along the mortar line of bricks, window frames, even a small nest can be built on a hook. Some species do build their nests on the ground.

Many Mud wasps and Potter wasps come back to the same nest year after year, adding more mud to the existing structure. Holes are created within the mud where they place their prey (usually a caterpillar, except for the Mud Dauber who catches spiders) for the larvae to feed on. The hole is then sealed. The evidence of the larvae having pupated into the adult wasp and having left the nest is the exposed hole opening.

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Vespidae
  • Subfamily: Eumeninae
  • Genus: Abispa

Footnote & References

  1. Mud Dauber and Potter Wasps, Queensland Museum,

WaspsAustralian Mud Nest Wasps Bembicinae Bembix Eumeninae Mud Wasp Orange-collared Spider Wasp Potter Wasp Pseudabispa bicolor ssp. nigrocinctoides Yellow and Black Wasp Yellow Hairy Flower Wasp Yellow Hairy Flower Wasp – R tasmaniensis