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Carpenter Bees - the Flying Power Drill

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Along with the pollen comes the “flying power drill,” also known as a carpenter bee. Carpenter bees are large, black and yellow bees often seen hovering around the eaves of your house. Often confused with bumble bees, they differ in the color of their abdomen and nesting site.

Female carpenter bees are the ones that bore holes in wood. They prefer bare or weathered softwoods, usually avoiding well-painted wood and wood with bark on it. Their holes can be four to 12 inches deep. Because of this, these holes not only have an unsightly appearance but can cause structural weakness as well.

Females seldom sting but when disturbed or handled can deliver a painful sting. Males on the other hand cannot sting but tend to be quite aggressive while guarding their territory, dive-bombing human heads when nearby.

After the gallery (hole) has been constructed, an egg is deposited with a mass of pollen and nectar. The egg and pollen mass is then sealed with a plug of wood pulp and saliva.

This process continues at a rate of one cell per day until about six cells are constructed. After completion, the adults soon die. During development from egg to adult, the wood is continually attacked.

So how can you keep carpenter bees from boring holes into your home? I know what you are thinking; bees are pollinators, why would we want to kill them?

The truth is we get little benefit of pollination from carpenter bees. As a child, our control method for carpenter bees chewing holes in our horse barn was swatting them with a riding crop. I would not recommend this method.

There are three methods that can be used to control carpenter bees: chemical treatments, residual surface and gallery treatments, and preventive treatments. There are three methods that can be used to control carpenter bees: chemical treatments, residual surface and gallery treatments, and preventive treatments.

Aerosol insecticides labeled for use on flying insects and bees can be applied directly to the carpenter bee. Care should be taken to avoid being stung. Residual insecticides such as permethrin and cyfluthrin sprays can be applied to wooden surfaces that are being attacked by carpenter bees. Unsightly residue can occur on treated wood.

Galleries can also be treated directly with these insecticides or others such as carbaryl or deltramethrin dust that are labeled for carpenter bee control. After activity has ceased, holes can be plugged with dowel rods, plastic, wood or other suitable materials.

Newly painted wood with oil or latex paint will normally not be attacked by carpenter bees. Pressure treated wood is often resistant to attacks until it is weathered for several years.

Boric acid can be used as an organic control by placing powder in the area or in the holes.

Pyrethrin sprays can be effective. These chemicals are derived from chrysanthemums and are not generally considered dangerous. Professional pest control operators can also be used.

Source: www.caes.uga.edu/publications

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