How to get rid of carpenter bees
It’s easy to assume that all bees are pretty similar, but that’s not always the case – especially when it comes to carpenter bees.
Carpenter bees usually have a furry belly like bumblebees, explains Emory Matts, MS, a certified entomologist and technical service director for the Western Exterminator Company. However, their belly is usually black with no yellow markings, and they can be quite large – up to an inch long.
And “In contrast to honey or bumblebees, carpenter bees nest more in the wood than in the ground,” says Matts, leaving round, drill-like holes behind. However, they do not eat wood. Instead, “they’re evacuating the wood to create chambers in which to raise their offspring,” explains Ben Hottel, Ph.D., technical services manager at Orkin.
While carpenter bees usually don’t bother you, they can grapple with the wooden structures and trees in your home and that can be a pain.
Where can you find carpenter bees near your home?
There is wood almost everywhere. “They drill holes in soffits, decks, posts, and the painted or bare wood of barns and sheds, especially when the paint is old,” says Hottel. “They were even found drilling holes in wooden furniture.”
As soon as the carpenter bees dig into the wood, they lay their eggs in the holes. Although they are solitary bees, they can “be found in large numbers,” says Hottel. This means that multiple bees can use the same entrance hole in a piece of wood, but have separate galleries and nests inside.
Do the carpenter bees sting? And can they damage your home?
Female carpenter bees can technically sting, but are usually not aggressive. “The males don’t sting, but they can look very threatening – they hover and fly after flying insects that invade their territory and fly near people or pets if they move nearby,” says Hottel.
And your home? “The tunnels the bees build can be reused year after year and can penetrate deep into the wood, potentially compromising structural integrity,” says Matts. “These holes can also allow moisture and rot to penetrate deeper into the wood.”
Another concern to consider, according to Hottel: Woodpeckers like to eat carpenter bees and can cause additional damage if they spot the bees on your property.
How to tell if you have a carpenter bee infestation
Hottel recommends checking wooden decks and railings (including the undersides) for signs of carpenter bees. He says that an infestation can usually be identified by these signs:
- They have small openings in the wood. These entry holes are roughly the diameter of your finger.
- You notice Sawdust. The bees can leave this under the borehole.
- There is pollen and bee droppings. Hottel says you’re looking for a yellowish combination of pollen and bee droppings near the entrance hole.
- Lots of bees buzz around. Most of all, they are looking for the males protecting their territory.
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This is how you get rid of carpenter bees
There are a few different home solutions you can do to get rid of carpenter bees, but experts say the effectiveness varies:
✔️Remove weathered or rotting wood. This type of wood is attractive to carpenter bees, Matts emphasizes.
✔️Plug up any existing holes. Carpenter bees can and do holes that they have already made, so make sure to close up any that you find in your home. Just use a cut dowel coated with wood glue, says Matts.
️Paint the exposed wood. This “creates a tough barrier to keep the carpenter bee from getting into the forest,” says Matts.
Termite & Carpenter Bee Killer Foam Spray
✔️Try insecticides. There are several types available at the hardware store, including sprays and powders that you can apply around the holes. “Insecticidal foams and dusts labeled for carpenter bees can be used in the holes that carpenter bees make to kill the adults and larvae,” says Hottel.
✔️Get a carpenter bee trap. These traps (like these on Amazon) are supposed to look like a carpenter bee’s nesting place. You can place them next to areas where the bees have already bored into your property to attract and catch them. “A trap can catch a few bees, but not protect your entire house, if it provides favorable conditions for carpenter bees to nest,” says Hottel.
✔️Suck it up with a shop vacuum. It sounds like it could work – and it could work – but Hottel says trying to suck the larva out of the holes or the bees in the air is “impractical and difficult to do in practice” can be.
When should I call a professional about my carpenter bee problem?
If you have a lot of holes or suspect your carpenter bee problem has been around for some time, Matts says it’s time to call a professional. “Accessing and treating carpenter bee activity can be challenging, and it is best to use professional pest control services to resolve problems with carpenter bees,” he says.
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