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Mud on porch ceiling

Posted by bbstx (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 15:53

(Cross posted in the Pests Forum)

I know this has nothing to do with Decorating, but this is such a knowledgeable bunch that I'm hoping someone has an answer.

The porch ceiling of my new house is covered in spots such as those in the picture. It looks like dirt daubers started building a nest and quit, but there are more of these each day and I've never seen a dirt dauber in the area. I would estimate there are currently 25 or so of these spots on the porch ceiling. Yesterday there was one on the fan blade. Today there are two on the fan blade - both on the same blade.

The porch ceiling is 13+ feet above the porch floor and the ceiling is 20+ feet above the lawn.

I don't know if you can tell or not, but there is little or no depth to these mud spots. They are only on the half of the ceiling farthest from the house. I'm stymied and so is our landscaper.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

Could they be termite mud tubes? I would call a pest control company.


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

Roarah, I hope not, but I've texted the photo to my pest guy. They really look more like mud that has somehow been slung up on the ceiling, but I have no idea how that could happen considering the distance and the fact that the mud is ONLY on the beadboard portion of the ceiling and the one ceiling fan blade. Unfortunately, we do not have a ladder tall enough for me to get a really good look at them.


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

Look around. We have some of those, and behind the crown on our window is a place where wasps klike to build their nest. Wasps bring mud to build their nest. They look just like rocks sometimes, or just a dried mud pile. Proceed with caution while looking...wasps are nasty.


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

Really odd. Dirt daubers usually build on or near a crevice/corner although I found one or two that were square shaped not organ-pipe this year (or at least I thought they were dirt daubers). And termite tunnels usually are near the ground I thought. Could be the start of wasps but they usually aren't that open either.


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

Are you talking about the three white spots in the picture? That's all I can see. Mud Dauber nests are brown...and big.

Unless I'm missing the mud, a dirt dobber could be trying to make a nest and it won't stick, so it keeps moving around.

Have you touched the spot with your finger? I don't think they're termites.


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

I haven't touched the spot. It is over 13 feet from the porch floor to the porch ceiling. We don't have a ladder that is tall enough to reach.

The 3 spots are what I was referring to. They look whitish in the photo but they are mud colored IRL. In total there are about 25 of the spots on the ceiling. Those 3 were all I could get in one picture that was clear enough to see. They are about the size of a thumb print. They almost look like someone stuck their thumb in mud then made a short swipe on the ceiling.

Perhaps it is a dirt dauber with performance issues! I've never seen one try and miss so often, though.

DH tried to wash down the ceiling yesterday. Whatever it is didn't wash off. I hate to get someone out to clean the ceiling until we've identified the problem. Bug man is coming Monday. His plan is to spray the ceiling with lots of bug spray and see what happens. I would prefer to identify the problem and treat it specifically instead of putting loads of pesticide on my porch!


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

I am laughing as I type this because on my computer screen it looks like bird poo! But on the ceiling....I am sure not. Unless the birds poo on the fly like they do on my windows. Could it be mold? But won't wash off, hum....mud dauber nests would wash off. Could it be something in the paint? Is there a floor over this ceiling or a roof? Could something be leaking? Very interesting!


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

When I had termites, there were little black specks, like black pepper at first and then the flying ants located in the walls.


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

I don't think that your pest guy should spray pesticides without knowing what the heck he's spraying for. That's irresponsible and kinda dumb.

Absolutely not the mud tubes from termites, so no worry there. I think that wasps are a real possibility. Their cemented mud won't come off with just a spray of the hose but will with elbow grease.

If wasps are coming in to try to build, spraying willy nilly won't do a thing. The insects actually have to be sprayed directly.

A porch overhang is a favorite choice for mud daubers, potter's wasps, and paper wasps. Have your bug guy climb up to scrape the spots off...I think that I might use some WD-40 and a paint scraper, gently.


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

I called the construction superintendent just to see if he had encountered this at any other house in the area. HE HAD! He said they are moth eggs. He had to clean some off a porch ceiling before the new owners would close. Mystery solved!


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

That totally makes sense! Question....do you have a porch light that stays on at night? If so, you might want to try out a bulb that emits yellow light, proved to be not nearly as attractive to nocturnal insects than white light.

P.S. There's nothing that your bug man can spray that will keep the moths away.


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

That totally makes sense! Question....do you have a porch light that stays on at night? If so, you might want to try out a bulb that emits yellow light, proved to be not nearly as attractive to nocturnal insects than white light.

P.S. There's nothing that your bug man can spray that will keep the moths away.


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

Glad that mystery is solved! I am so relieved your pest control guy didn't spray product all over that beautiful ceiling.


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

I learn something every day! Try to find a broom so you can see if the spots will brush off. You can do it on a smaller ladder.


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

oo, thanks for that idea! Sis is here visiting. Tomorrow, I'll get her to hold the ladder while I try to reach with the broom.

I don't have a light that stays on all night on that side of the house. I have soffit lights on the front of the house that stay on all night. A friend up the street has a string of lights around her porch that stays on for several hours each evening and she doesn't have a similar problem.

The living room has windows onto the porch. Lights from the LR could be attracting the moths, but the egg spots are on the far side of the porch ceiling from the LR.

The construction guy told me there were moths all over the area, but I haven't seen a single one yet.

More research is in order!


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

I am happy it is nothing serious!


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

I hate moths, and their altar egos. Sometimes I think I would like to live in an area of less biodiversity. We have these kinds of issues all the time, bbstx, and I am really getting sick of them. Over the weekend a mud dauber was building his foul home on the side of a concrete faux bois planter in our screened porch. Every year we have a crazy barn swallow who tries to build a nest inside a magnolia wreath on the same porch, dive bombs us if we go near it, and poops everywhere. Other birds build nests on the exposed edges of columns underneath the porch., and when handy guy glued shims on top of them with nails sticking up from it, they built their nests, literally, on a bed of nails! We had to out fake owls down there! Just last weekend we had a 6 ft water moccasin sunning itself on the stone steps at the bottom of our deck. DH killed it with a broom handle, the only weapon at hand (he'd been getting water off the tennis court). And this year we have so many squirrels it looks like a summer camp in our backyard....all types and sizes, even those large black faced ones that look a bit like raccoons. Our dogs caught one and then started fighting over the body! Our normally well behaved Mr. Fluffy bit another of our dogs to get a squirrel leg back!

Sorry for the hijack and rant, I just really sympathize with your moth situation. I think I may have to take a vacation at one of the geographic poles to get away from this nature stuff for awhile...I feel like we are filming one long, continuous episode of Wild Kingdom. Very glad you don't have termites!!


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

kwsl, I feel your pain. Sometimes I look around and realize that for those of us living in the south, nature is abundant - for better or worse.

What puzzles me about the moth eggs on the porch ceiling is I haven't seen any moths! And once I get them cleaned off, how do I prevent a return?


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

Moths are nocturnal. Unless you're in the habit of sitting outside in the evening, you might not see them.

I've planted flowering plants in containers on our back patio specifically to entice moths. We DO enjoy that awful, pesky 'nature ' (lol) ; some moths are incredibly stunning. We sit outside at night to watch for moths, bats, and lightning bugs.

There isn't anything you can do that will prevent the moths from doing their thing. You might find the eggs difficult to remove with a broom; they're intended to be pretty tough. If the sweep end won't do the job, try knocking them off with the handle.

Speaking of broom handles, Kswl, a 6 foot cottonmouth would have been worthy of a call to whatever agency keeps track of record breaking sizes. A six footer would probably have weighed close to thirty pounds, yikes. Extremely unusual.


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

We've never seen one that big either, rhizo. When I saw it, attracted by the sound of a dog barking, my first thought was how fat it was--- they are usually pretty lean. It didn't occur to me then that a snake that big around would have to be unusually long in proportion to the diameter of its body. It was HUGE. I went for the axe but DH didn't want it to disappear while we were waiting to find a more suitable weapon. It is the largest snake we've come across. We have black racers and other garden variety snakes, copperheads and rattlesnakes, as well as other water snakes. Landscapers are usually the ones who find them and either shoot them or cut them in half with a garden implement. I am really getting tired of it. Every day I feel a little more like Zsa Zsa Gabor in Green Acres....


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

That must have been some broom handle. I can't imagine being able to kill a snake with just a broom handle. I would have been afraid of making the snake mad, instead of killing it.

Mom sent me out on the patio with a hoe once to kill a snake. I made one swipe at the snake. It moved. I jumped up on a wrought iron bench and screamed until it moved on (actually, I probably screamed until Mom came out and told me to quit). Did I really think it was just going to lay there?


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

Yeah, kswl, my eyes were popping out of my head at the size of that water moccasin! And I grew up on the water and only remember seeing one near that size and it was in captivity (someone had captured it at the wildlife refuge because of its size).

The dirt daubers have been extremely vile this year. We have been commenting on how we have to fight them off just to get to our cars sometimes. They have been making a real mess in our garage. Thankfully, we have a lot of non-poisonous snakes that seem to keep the bad boys away from our immediate area. We just leave them alone and instruct the workers in our yard to do the same. The squirrels! Don't get me started. Let me just say, DH is pretty handy with his rifle and so am I. They have ruined several 'squirrel-proof' bird feeders. The moths don't really bother me, but I did go looking for signs on our porches last night after this post!


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

After the first hit on the rock the end broke off and he had a kind of pointed spear broom and just hacked away at it relentlessly. Dh is an ambidextrous tennis player with a lot of power in his serve. I was afraid for him to go after the snake with just a broom handle but he proved me wrong. He still has the ability to surprise me :-)


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

As a recent transplant to Southern CA, the reduced number of insects, is one of the things you really appreciate. When we looked at houses we were surprised that they didn't have screens on the doors ... it turns out you really don't need them! No mosquitos, a fly once in a while, a moth here and there at night.


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RE: Mud on porch ceiling

MYSTERY SOLVED - for real this time!

Since I last posted, our housekeeper's son washed down the ceiling. Everything looked great! The next day all the spots were back. I called a window washer, thinking he would have better equipment and taller ladders. When he left all of the spots seemed to be gone. The next day they were back! I drew two conclusions from that. Either (1) when the spots are wet, they are the same color as the ceiling, or (2) they are being removed and then replaced quickly.

Today, DH caught the head of the golf course's maintenance team (did I tell you we are on a golf course?). He said they are army worm eggs. His advice was to do nothing about it until fall and then get our lawn treated when they treat the golf course. He suggested then power washing the porch ceiling.

The number of egg sacs have multiplied dramatically since my first post. My ceiling looks scabrous! I suppose it is foolish to do anything to it until we and the golf course try to eradicate the army worms in the fall. Maybe I'll just put very colorful cushions on the porch chairs and no one will look up!


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