Carpenter bees are mildly dangerous, but more importantly, they’re destructive. If you want to protect your home and minimize potential damage, you need to be able to spot a carpenter bee infestation as early as possible.
So what does a carpenter bee infestation look like? And how do you deal with one?
Carpenter Bee Appearance
In case you aren’t familiar with them, carpenter bees look like bumblebees; they tend to be large, with patterns of yellow and black along their bodies. Most carpenter bees range from half an inch to one inch, and many of them feature metallic like reflections, allowing them to catch the sunlight.
Carpenter bees are different than bumblebees because they’re distinguished by a bare and shiny abdomen. They also typically have less hair than bumblebees.
You’ll usually find carpenter bees in the spring, hanging out around major sources of wood. As their name suggests, they like wood – not as a nutritional source, but as a source of shelter. Carpenter bees bore holes into wood, creating nests and enjoying natural protection. Most carpenter bees will not spread throughout your entire house structure, so you don’t have to worry about them chewing your house down, but you still need to be wary of them to prevent possible damage.
Signs of a Carpenter Bee Infestation
These are the typical signs of a carpenter bee infestation:
· Holes in unfinished wood. Carpenter bees bore holes in wood to create nests, typically leaving behind a gaping hole about ½” in diameter. They prefer unfinished wood, but it’s not unheard of to find carpenter bee holes inward that’s been painted or varnished. These bees will make do with almost any type of wood, including both softwood and hardwood.
· Frass. Carpenter bees also typically leave behind “frass,” a residual material that resembles sawdust. Look around the hole to see if there is any residue in and around the hole. If you haven’t done any drilling lately, if the hole seems fresh, and if there’s plenty of frass around, you can be reasonably sure that carpenter bees have set up shop.
· Channels. When carpenter bees make nests in wood, they usually drill into the wood slightly, then immediately take a turn and start creating tunnels along the grain of the wood. It may be hard to make a structural assessment from the exterior, but if you notice this style of tunneling, it’s another sign of infestation.
· Active carpenter bees. You should also consider any local carpenter bees that seem to be active in and around the holes you’ve found. It’s even more important to keep an eye on these bees if anyone in your household is allergic to them.
What to Do Next
If you do notice a carpenter bee infestation in or around your home, these are the most important steps to take:
· Spray or dust an insecticide in and around the holes. You can start by spraying an insecticide in and around the holes you find. There are many insecticides that work perfectly well against carpenter bees, including traditional sprays and dust pesticides. Depending on the brand and product you choose, this spray has the potential to last two to three weeks, or even longer, killing any bees that venture into the hole and discouraging other bees from entering.
· Plug the holes. After you’ve applied the insecticide, wait a few days, then start plugging the holes. There are many ways to plug these holes, such as with a cork, with putty, or with caulk. The point is to prevent carpenter bee populations in the future from using this active hole; they will look for convenient, available holes rather than drilling new ones.
· Utilize bee traps. If you still have carpenter bees flying around your property, consider making use of bee traps to contain them. If you’ve already taken care of the nest, this is your best strategy.
· Set up natural repellants. There are many natural substances capable of repelling bees. Cayenne pepper, peppermint oil, and citrus oil are commonly recommended. Strategically placing these strong scents may deter carpenter bees from coming back.
· Use preventative measures to prevent another infestation. Finally, use preventative measures to prevent another infestation. Spray early in the spring and keep watch for signs of infestations in progress.
Carpenter bees are unlikely to sting you unless you’re actively provoking them, so they don’t present much of a danger unless you or someone in your household is allergic to them. They also can cause structural damage to your home, but not on a large scale.
Still, it’s a good idea to take care of a carpenter bee problem as early as possible so you don’t run into any issues with them in the future.