Flying insect question

We have a ranch house in a suburb of Chicago. In the back, there's a set of three concrete steps which lead from a sliding glass door to the "patio" which is simply a concrete slab. Beyond the slab is a large hedge, and to one side is our vegetable garden.
There is a small opening about 3/4" high by 4" long where the concrete stairs meet the concrete slab. Some flying insects seem to have taken up residence in the space under the steps, entering and leaving via the small opening (doorway?).
These little guys are about 1" to 1-1/4 long. They appear to have black segmented bodies like ants (but I'm not sure). Their wings seem to be opaque and have a blue sheen. When they're at rest, one wing folds over the other and the folded wings lie on top of the body. The wings are about the same length as the bodies.
These insects fly rapidly in arcs, landing once in a while on the steps for a few moments, and occasionally visiting the large shrub. They often seem to fly in pairs, circling each other.
One day my wife was watering the veggie garden and squirted a stream at the "doorway". Three or 4 of the insects appeared and began to buzz her. She felt they were acting aggressively, and she wisely backed off.
Does anyone have any idea (1) what these insects might be, (2) are they dangerous (stingers?), and (3) what can be done about them?
If more information is needed, please post here or email (but remove the "nospam" from the address).
Any ideas, comments, or suggestions will be gratefully received.
-Len
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Sounds like wasps, or one of their their kin. They build paper nests in trees, and underground, in your case. I tend not to use wasp sprays as they kill beneficial insects as well, and can endanger the person holding the spray can..When one is injured, the others race to his rescue, sometimes with painful results. Find an organic solution - either learn to live with them, or close the opening. If they are wasps, they will be inactive at night. On a dry evening, armed with a flashlight, stick a piece of duct tape or other sticky tape over the hole. Alternatively, and more humanely, you could wait till their nest is abandoned - that could take some time - then caulk up the 4 inch hole.
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It's a mud daubber. They live in a grey/brown dirt tube. That is why the wings fold straight back. Wasps have wings that set off at 45 degree angles when they sit. They are not particularly aggressive but they do sting I suppose. Never had one get me.
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Spray the hole at night with bug spray , the duct tape idea is dumb. But they are good for the garden they eat bugs and wont bother you if you let them be.
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Tape has worked for me, on a yellow jacket nest in a wall. And, you ought to work on your manners.....
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They will eat through foam, caulk and definatly tape, tape is a dumb idea.
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On 24 Jul 2004 05:32:41 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Greg) wrote:
LenS wrote: "These little guys are about 1" to 1-1/4 long. They appear to have black segmented bodies like ants (but I'm not sure). Their wings seem to be opaque and have a blue sheen. When they're at rest, one wing folds over the other and the folded wings lie on top of the body. The wings are about the same length as the bodies."

The mud daubbers are actually wasps (Sphecidae), and their wings fold on top of each other as LenS described them.
Geo
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Thanks to all who responded to my original post.
With the help of Google/Images I was able to find several pictures of blue mud daubers and I'm satisfied that what our flying visitors are.
We've decided to leave the little fellows alone since they're apparently content to mind their own business and allow us to tend to ours. In the fall we might seal up the opening, however.
Again, thanks to all.
-Len
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