But first she'll go hunting for spiders, stuffing each chamber with a paralyzed spider (or several if they're small) on which she'll lay an egg. When the egg hatches, the larva will feed on fresh spider. Ahh, Nature red in tooth and claw!
I hadn't known about this behavior till I checked out the link above, but it explains the spider I found near the dirt dauber's nest. I thought it was dead but when I nudged it into position to take a picture, the poor doomed arachnid moved, ever so slightly.
Evidently dirt daubers are especially fond of black widow spiders -- a good reason not to discourage them.
Another name for this black dirt dauber is Organ Pipe Mud dauber. You can see why from the picture below.
The holes are where the larvae, fat on their spidery provisions and metamorphosed into wasps have chewed their way out. The tubes are often reused -- by the wasps or by the practitioner of Appalachian folk medicine.
Louise Freeman who was born and spent most of her life here on this farm.
Our first summer in the mountains we were camping out in the barn and our not-quite one year old had a bad case of diaper rash. I'd tried various powders and ointments but nothing was working.
Then Louise took over. She scraped a previously occupied dirt dauber's nest off the back porch wall, broke it up and picked out the remains of the larvae cases.
I put it on a square of loose woven linen (cotton would do fine -- an old handkerchief is perfect) and tie the fabric into a little bag.
Perfect for powdering a baby bottom -- or anywhere on anyone who's suffering from heat rash --"galded" (galled) in the mountain term.
And yes, my baby's rash was gone the next day.