Carpenter bees are very active from early spring through summer around houses and other wooden structures. These insects bore one-half inch wide holes that appear to be perfectly round on exterior wooden surfaces of house siding, eaves, window trim, fascia boards, shingles, decks and outdoor furniture. For a successful carpenter bee pest-control strategy, several tactics must be employed.
CARPENTER BEE BOMBERS
Homeowners are often frightened by these pesky black bees that fly erratically around their homes. The male carpenter bee is very territorial and protects its nesting sites by hovering and attacking intruders. Although the male is aggressive, it does not have a stinger, making it harmless. The female does have a stinger, but rarely stings.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Fine sawdust caused by the adult bees excavating activities during the spring of the year will normally be found lying on the ground beneath the gallery entrances. Repeated boring activities may result in unsightly stains caused by falling bee waste around the entrance hole. Homeowners often notice a buzzing or burrowing sound coming from within the wood this time of year. The excavating bee will bore directly into the wood with her mouth parts for about an inch, then turn sharply and bore at a 90-degree angle usually along the grain of the wood. Normally, the gallery will extend about four to six inches, but with repeated use galleries have measured ten feet long. Nest sites by a single bee results in slight damage, but repeated colonization over several years may result in considerable destruction.
HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS FOR CONTROL
Unpainted, exposed wood is especially attractive to carpenter bees. A helpful deterrent to carpenter bee activities is a painted (oil-base or polyurethane) surface. Wood stains provide little repelling action. Nail holes or exposed saw cuts should be filled in with wood putty or dowels and painted. If practical, remove severely damaged wood and replace with chemical pressure-treated wood to deter nest construction. To further discourage carpenter bees looking for potential nesting sites, a homeowner should secure all doors, windows, and other building openings during the spring. Non-wood surfaces such as vinyl siding are not damaged by carpenter bees.
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