Are you one of the people who often makes the mistake of calling a carpenter bee a bumblebee? If so, you aren’t alone. Many people aren’t able to discern between the two insects because they look very much alike.
Perhaps the most notable difference between these two is that carpenter bees have a black, shiny abdomen whereas bumblebees are yellow and have hair on their abdomens. Another characteristic that differentiates the two is that Carpenter bees usually will hover and drill into wood or under the eaves of your house. Bumblebees tend to live underground.
If you notice that you have a lot of carpenter bees flying around your house or wooden structures, you’ll want to look into carpenter bees pest control options. However, before we get into that, let’s talk a little more about carpenter bees and the damage that they can cause to your property.
Carpenter Bee Facts
If you’re a new homeowner and see you finger-sized holes in the wood of your house, garage, or decking, you’ve stumbled upon a carpenter bee nest. If this is your first run in with these pests, then here are a few bits of information that can help you determine what form of carpenter bee pest control may work the best for you.
- They do not eat the wood. You may think that carpenter bees are eating the wood in and around your home, but they aren’t. Instead of eating it, they are using the wood to lay their eggs and to create a nest, so they have some place to stay over the winter. If you see a bit of sawdust-like debris under a hole in some wood, that is a nest. You can also listen closely to the wood, and you can actually hear them boring holes in the wood. If left untreated, they will keep coming to that same spot year after year.
- Carpenter bee pest control is not going to be easy. Unlike flies or ants, carpenter bees are incredibly tough to get rid of. Not only is it hard to get rid of them, but is equally as hard to prevent them from returning to an already established carpenter bee nest.
- Prevention is the best way to get rid of carpenter bees. If you’re trying to figure out what types of wood carpenter bees prefer to call home, they will choose bare softwood that hasn’t been treated. They usually stay away from pressure treated wood, or wood that has been painted or stained.
- Don’t ignore any bee holes. After an inspection of your home and you discover one or two bee holes, you don’t want to leave them as is. You’ll want to fill it and take care of the situation now when it is small before it becomes a real problem.
5. Common places where carpenter bees will nest include:
- Outdoor wooden furniture
- Shingles along the roof
- Window Trim
6. Only female carpenter bees sting. Female carpenter bees will guard the entry hole to the nest. She’s an aggressive little thing, and she won’t hesitate to sting any predators. When the drilling to the nest has been completed, she’ll go off to azaleas, daffodils, and pansies to forage for food. So if you see a bee with a shiny abdomen near these flowers, you may want to be cautious lest you get stung.
What To Do About Carpenter Bees Infestation
Do you know the signs of a carpenter bee infestation? You aren’t going to a massive swarm flying around your house. Instead, you’re going to see holes the size of a fingertip drilled into the wood with a pile of sawdust underneath. You’re going to see a yellowish blend of pollen and bee waste near the hole, and, yes, bees flying to and from the hole.
So after you do a cursory examination of your property, you may wonder to yourself how to get rid of carpenter bees. You might think that the handy can of Raid is going to be enough to stop the bees in their tracks, but it isn’t going to work as much as you hope. There are several methods of carpenter bee pest control that are effective and affordable, which can be a bit of a blessing! These methods include:
- Spraying a carpenter bee spray around the area.
- Use an insecticide residual dust in new openings.
- Plug the holes with a cork during the fall.
Using A Residual Liquid Treatment
When you are going to use a residual liquid treatment spray, you want to look for the holes the carpenter bees have made into a piece of wood. Most of the time you’ll find the holes underneath a wooden surface. When you spray, you will want to do it during the Spring every three to four weeks.
If you have a severe infestation in cedar wood or in a log cabin type structure, chances are you’ll have to do the treatment about twice a month. Should the bee holes be protected from rain, the insecticide can last up to three months. If it the spray was applied in the winter, it should remain active throughout the majority of the bee season.
Using An Insecticide Residual Dust
After spraying the area with the carpenter bee spray, you will want to fortify the defenses by using dust that is formulated to help with the carpenter bees pest control. The dust should be applied into the opening of the hole.
Keep in mind the hole goes much deeper than the one to two inches at the beginning. Their holes will extend 90 degrees after the initial opening. To get the dust into the hole, you will want to find one that has a curved tip so that it can fit in the angled hole much easier.
These holes can go anywhere from six inches to four feet into the wood, with chambers for their eggs dotting the way. Because their nest is full of angles and chambers, you might feel like it is impossible to have successful carpenter bee treatment, but every little bit counts!
Plugging The Carpenter Bee Holes
After applying the insecticides to the area where the carpenter bees have created their nest, you’re going to want to wait until the fall to plug up their holes. Now, there are differing opinions on what to fill the holes with. Some say that you can fill the holes with a wood filler compound, some say you can use caulking or putty, while another says you should only use cork to plug the hole.
The problem of filling a hole with some kind of silicone sealant like caulking or putty is that when the eggs hatch, the young bees won’t be able to get out, thus forcing them to create exit holes that are free of chemicals. Sometimes these new tunnels will lead into your house or somewhere else that you may not be able to see or treat.
To avoid this problem, it’s recommended that you use cork to seal the holes. This leaves the tunnels open and still be usable by the young bees. Also, another great benefit of choosing to use corks is that you can better spot holes that have been treated and which holes are new.
Will A Carpenter Bee Extermination Ever Be Necessary?
If you have carpenter bees around your house, it’s understandable that you may want to look into carpenter bee extermination. You may want to wait for a little while before going through with that, though.
It is a very rare occurrence where Carpenter bees cause so much damage that will require a complete renovation. Now, that’s not to say that it doesn’t happen or it isn’t outside the realm of possibility. In most instances where you take proper carpenter bee pest control care, it won’t get to that point.
How To Prevent Carpenter Bees From Causing Damage To Your Home
It’s understandable that you will want to do all that you can to prevent carpenter bees from causing any sort of damage to your home. While there aren’t any natural deterrents you can do to keep the bees away, there are a couple of things you can do that will make the bees rethink their decision to call your home theirs.
- Use hardwoods to build with. Since carpenter bees prefer to burrow in soft woods like pine, it makes sense that you would want to build with hardwoods like oak or maple.
- Use pressure treated lumber to build. Anytime you want to build something, be it a new deck or an extension on your house, always opt for pressure treated wood. Not only will the project last much longer than non-treated, but the bees also won't want anything to do with it.
- Paint the wood. If the wood of your structure isn’t painted or in good repair, you will want to do that ASAP. Just like the treated wood, bees don’t want anything to do with it. It's recommended that you use a polyurethane paint for optimal defense against carpenter bees. You can use a stain as long as you add a repellent to the solution before applying it. These treatments can last between one to two years before you will have to reapply.
Wrap Up Of Carpenter Bees Pest Control Solutions
Like other species of bees, carpenter bees play a very important role in our ecosystem by pollinating plants. However, they aren’t like the other bees because the damage they cause can be much more serious than their painful sting. As their name suggests, carpenter bees will take up shop in untreated, soft wood and start laying their eggs there.
While Carpenter bees do not pose much of a threat to your house as a termite would, they can still be quite a nuisance, and if left to their own devices, their nests could cause significant damage to your home. You can treat these infestations with a series of insecticides and finally by sealing up the nest’s entranceway. But since their nests consist of a series of 90-degree angles and chambers, which can make it difficult to eradicate the carpenter bee infestation.
Fortunately, you can help your efforts of carpenter bee eradication by repelling them and preventing them from creating new nests. It’ll take a little bit of elbow grease (okay, a lot if you have a lot of ground to cover), protective paint with polyurethane and carpenter bee traps. These traps are designed to attract the bee and trap them.
You’ll want to hang the trap near the nest openings, but if the problem isn’t that bad or you want to use the traps as a preventive measure, put the traps on the corners and peaks of your house, preferably on the side that has the most sunlight.
Experts will tell you that it is hard to kill the bees entirely, but it is possible. We feel that if you are proactive with your carpenter bee pest control, you’ll never have to worry about the best way to kill carpenter bees. Your home can be bee-free without having to deal with harmful chemicals and running the risk of getting stung while trying to use those very treatments. If you ask us, prevention is the best form of carpenter bee pest control!