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Aussie woman's bizarre find in laundry: ‘What the hell is that?'

The woman was told 'burn the house down and run like hell'.

An Aussie woman has made a desperate call for help after making a strange discovery inside her home.

“Does anyone know what this is or can I get a product from Bunnings or am I going to be attacked by wasps or something?” the Victorian woman wrote on social media alongside a series of photos of her laundry ceiling. “Please can anyone help me”

The wasp nest around the light bulb.
The woman spotted the nest in her laundry which she said she rarely uses. Source: Facebook

Around the white light globe, a mound of what looks like dirt can be seen, some of it even covering the glass of the bulb.

Facebook users were just as horrified at the startling find. “What the hell is that?!” one person wrote.

“I’d be moving out,” said another.

A third commented: “Oh darling, this is when you burn the house down and run like hell.”

While others questioned how the woman from St Arnaud was only just making the discovery. “My laundry is outside and I hardly ever use the light,” she explained before updating those online.

“I’ve sprayed it with fly spray. Nothing came out. I knocked it into a bucket and it came off. Just got to get the light globe out. Could be tricky.”

What is it?

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Professor Alexander Mikheyev from the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University, confirmed that the nest belonged to a mud dauber wasp.

“Generally this is pretty typical,” he said. “The wasps tend to build their nests in sheltered areas like under eaves or under a roof, so I think the location makes perfect sense. The unusual part is that the wasp has covered the base of the bulb with a bit of extra clay.”

So, what’s going on? And forewarning, it’s a little bit "grim".

“Like many other solitary wasps, mud daubers are parasitoids,” Mikheyev explained. “In other words, they feed on the bodies of other arthropods.

“But mud daubers are interesting in that they actively capture their prey and they paralyse it, and once they paralyse the prey, then the larvae develop on these paralysed prey items.”

A mud dauber wasp.
Professor Alexander Mikheyev confirmed that the nest belonged to a mud dauber wasp. Source: Australian Museum

Take for example, a spider.

“So they will hunt the spider and paralyse it,” the expert said. “The spider won’t die and instead larvae will eat it in such a way so that they first eat the non-life essential organs and it remains fresh during their whole development cycle.

“Parasitoids are pretty grim. There are many tens of thousands of species of them, and life for a lot of arthropods is ending up as prey for a parasitoid.”

Threat to humans?

Fortunately, people aren’t on the list of delectables for mud daubers.

“Generally the sting to a human is painful but non-threatening, and they are really not going to attack you unless you aggressively threaten them,” Mikheyev explained.

“If the wasp is active however, building the nest, and you tried to harass it, it may attack you in self-defence. But most of the time, wasps will avoid conflict.”

So, what should you do if you’re faced with an unexpected mud dauber nest?

“I would check to see that it’s not active and then you could fairly safely scrape it off,” said Mikheyev. “Maybe with some kind of blade.

A map of Australia with mud dauber locations.
The mud daubers are parasitoids and found all over Australia. Source: Australian Museum

“There could be a little bit of residue left that you might have to experiment with some solvents to clean off because they are stuck on quite well with a mixture of mud and saliva. But it's pretty harmless.”

And the good news is that you’re not going to have a colony of wasps swarming after you.

“As they're inside, it’s either going to be larvae or pupa, so they will be harmless and than mobile because by the time they're actually ready to fly out, they are going to chew their way out and escape. They're not going to hang out inside their nest because they're going to need to get food.”

If anything, Mikheyev said it’s best to leave nests where they are so you don’t damage them.

“If you scrape it off and put it elsewhere then it's exposed to potentially the elements and ants will actively seek them out and eat them.

“While people will vary about how they feel about this and their property, I let the wasps hatch and then I take the rest off.”

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