Spring is here, and so are the many bugs that pollinate and make our world a little more beautiful. Unfortunately, with all the good insects arrive a few pests that can do some damage to your home if they aren’t taken care of.

One of the most common nuisance pests of the spring is the carpenter bee. You may have seen these flying insects flying near your porch, door, or deck.

If you aren’t careful, they could cause some real cosmetic and structural damage to your home. Here’s a little information on carpenter bees and how to stop them wreaking havoc on your property.

carpenter bees are attracted to unfinished wood

What are Carpenter Bees?

As the name suggests, carpenter bees are part of the bee family; however, they are a bit different. Unlike honeybees or bumblebees, carpenter bees are not social insects. Instead of living in colonies, they will build individual nests in trees and all sorts of outdoor wood, including anything on your home that fits the bill.

Coming in both large and small varieties, carpenter bees are attracted to unfinished or weathered wood. They will nest in door frames, decks, porches, or any area they find. These insects will cozy up, nest over winter, and then come out again in the spring.

What do they look like?

Carpenter bees often get mistaken for bumblebees because of their color. If you look closer, however, you can spot the difference. While this type of bee has yellow markings on their body, they do not have any on their abdomen. Their abdomens are smooth, shiny, and black. The bigger carpenter bees tend to grow between 12-25mm long, and the smaller bees can reach about 8mm. Why are they a problem?

Carpenter bees aren’t destructive on the same level as termites. They also don’t eat wood, but they do burrow into it. These bees bore into unfinished or weathered wood and build nests. While they do occasionally attack stained and painted wood, they do prefer bare wood above all else.

Again, while they aren’t as destructive as termites, they can cause a good deal of damage; both cosmetically and structurally. As they burrow deep into the wood, they will leave gaping holes and hollow out the inside.

This can cause the wood to decay faster. Plus, depending on how many are making homes on your property, it could have an effect on structural integrity.

In addition, carpenter bees don’t just leave after winter. If they found a place that has everything they need, they will return to roast in their little burrows again. And while male carpenter bees do not sting, the females will, and it can be painful. However, these bees do not sting very often, but they can get aggressive when their home is threatened.

How do you know you have them?

It can be easy to spot evidence of a carpenter bee infestation. Look for small holes in wood; be sure to check any wooden areas on and around the outside of your home including door and window frames, decks, porches, and other areas. You may find evidence of sawdust near the holes or a dusting of pollen. Another easy given away is plenty of aggressive bees, usually the males. Remember, males do not sting, but the females will if provoked.

How to Deal with Them

Now that you’ve spotted the culprit and found where they are nesting, you can take steps to get rid of these buzzing pests for good. Depending on the size of the infestation, you may be able to handle it yourself. However, if the issue is overwhelming, you may want to consider the help of a pest control expert. Here’s what you can do to find carpenter bees and keep them away from your home.

1. Seal Holes

If you happen to spot some holes in the wood around your home, you can plug them up. Use caulk or wood putty to put a stopper on any unwanted visitors. Keep in mind, it is a better idea to seal these holes in the fall. Otherwise, you may find a few more holes from bees trying to escape.

2. Double Check your Home

Remember; carpenter bees will reuse holes they’ve made in the past. As you check the exterior of your home for nests, do a double sweep to make sure that you’ve covered all your bases. They may burrow in unseen spots beneath windows or on wooden patio furniture as well.

3. Spray or Paint Unfinished Wood

While carpenter bees will, on occasion, burrow into painted or stained wood, they prefer bare wood. Take the time to paint or stain any bare wood. If you like the unfinished look, however, consider getting the wood treated.

4. Use a Bee Spray

If you know where the bees are hovering and you’ve plugged up all the holes, you can try using a bee spray. Apply the spray on or around the holes to deter and kill these pests. In addition to taking care of the bee problem, some solutions will even kill the larvae.

Be cautious, though. Some pesticides can be dangerous to children and pets. Take the necessary steps for yourself when applying any type of pesticides, including wearing proper protective clothes, gloves, eyewear, and masks.

5. Bee Traps

If you want to avoid sprays, another way to stop carpenter bees is by using a bee trap. These traps will lure in bees and keep them from escaping. The traps are small wooden boxes with ½ inch holes drilled into each side. At the bottom is an attached water bottle that you can screw off after the trap has worked its magic.

Bees will enter the wooden box in search of a place to nest. Unfortunately, once they fly inside, they are stuck in the plastic bottle and can’t get back out again. Once the bees die, you can remove the bottle, empty the dead bees, and keep letting the trap do its thing. It’s an easy, hands-off, and chemical-free way of controlling the carpenter bees.

carpenter bees leave gaping holes that make wood decay faster

Concluding Thoughts

Don’t let carpenter bees burrow into your plans this spring and summer. Take the steps to fortify your home and stop them from damaging your property. If you have an infestation that is more than you can handle or you aren’t sure if carpenter bees are the problem, feel free to contact a pest control expert.


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