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Buzzing Pest: Carpenter Bees

Buzzing Pest: Carpenter Bees

AUBURN, Alabama — No one enjoys pests living around them. One pest in particular can cause destruction with its hole drilling abilities.

Carpenter Bee--Jim Baker, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.orgCarpenter bees are large bees best known for boring holes in wood. An Alabama Extension entomologist said the only threat they pose is to the wood in buildings and homes.  Carpenter bees do not use wood as nutrition. In fact, carpenter bees eat nectar and pollen from plants just as bumble bees do.

“Female carpenter bees chew round nest entrances and bore into untreated wood,” said Dr. Xing Ping Hu. “They construct a channel or gallery to lay eggs.”

Hu explains that because gallery construction is a labor-intensive process, females often prefer to inhabit existing nests instead of excavating new ones.

“The bee adult brings in a mass of pollen for the newly hatched larvae to feed on, and then seals it all off to ensure it’s development before she repeats the process for the next egg. ”

Male carpenter bees tend to be territorial and can buzz around you if approached. These actions are just for show and intimidation because they do not have stingers.

Ways to Prevent Carpenter Bees from Infesting homes

To control carpenter bees, Hu recommended spraying or dusting insecticide directly into the carpenter bees’ entrance holes or adjacent wood surface and then a day later caulking and sealing the holes.

She said caulk is a better choice than spray foam insulation.

“Carpenter bees cannot chew through hardened caulk-materials,”  Hu said. She learned that carpenter bees can chew caulk that has not fully cured several years ago.

Hu was called to a home with a severe carpenter bee infestation. She saw numerous dime-size entry-holes and stains of sawdust in the wood siding and trim and counted 200 bees hovering around.

Hu came up with a plan to rid the bees from this home.

“I wanted to test liquid and foam insecticides, and I injected 35 holes and immediately sealed the holes using a caulk gun,” she recalled.  “The next day , I went back and expected to claim a successful control.”

To her surprise, she was welcomed by almost the same number of buzzing bees. The sealed holes were open and the small holes surrounded by caulk/sealant were distinct.  She realized that the bees had chewed through the soft-sealant.

“Determined to win the battle, I re-dusted the holes with insecticide followed by resealing,” said Hu.

For more information, check out this ACES publication on carpenter bee biology and management: http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1302/ANR-1302.pdf

 

Featured photo by Lamar Merck, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Specimen photo by Jim Baker, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org

About Binh Nguyen

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