If you have exposed wood that looks as though someone has drilled a hole in it, then you might have carpenter bees. Carpenter bees are one of two types of bee that will bore into exposed wood to create a nest. It is important to note that the visible hole is just the entrance to their nest and that there is likely an entire tunnel system inside of your wood. In this blog post, we'll go over what to look out for, how to avoid them, and what to do if you have them.
How will I find them?
Carpenter bees will favor the exposed wood on your house. This means that they will gravitate towards areas like door and window frames, eaves, decks, and porches, or any wooden furniture or playground equipment that you might have in your yard. They are busy creatures, so you most likely will not have to see the holes to know that they are there. You will see the worker bees flying into and out of the nest quite a bit during the daytime hours. In the evening hours, they tend to quiet down and stay inside. They do not eat the wood, so you might see the resulting sawdust before you find the hole itself. In addition to their holes, sawdust, and flight activity, carpenter bees can be quite messy. You might find stains around the hole that are made up of bee feces and dropped pollen.
Once you have seen the signs of the bees, it shouldn't be too hard to follow them or their mess to the holes. The entrance hole to their nest will look nearly perfectly round and be about a half of an inch thick. It will look as though someone came by with a drill bit and put a hole in your property.
When do they come out?
In existing nests, carpenter bees will stay inside over the Winter and come out in Spring. During this time you will see them flying around as they mate, feed on pollen, and prepare themselves for the next Winter. If they have not already established a nest, then they will also come in around Spring in search of a new home. If they find your home to be welcoming, then they might decide to bore into your wood and become your new neighbors. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to make your home less attractive to them so they'll find someplace else to live.
How can I avoid them?
As mentioned previously, carpenter bees like exposed wood. When your house or deck is new, the wood has a nice layer of paint, weatherproofing, or other treatment on it that discourages the bees from boring into it. Over time, however, such coatings wear thin and serve as much less of a deterrent to the bees. As part of the routine maintenance of your home, you'll want to be sure to repaint or retreat any wood on your property. By keeping the protective coatings fresh, you can keep the unwanted diggers from finding a new home in your wood.
Carpenter bees aren't really picky about where they live. If you've had an infestation already and have had it taken care of, a new crop of bees is perfectly happy to move into the old nest. For that reason, it is important that you repair and repaint any wood that has already been attacked by bees.
Are they dangerous?
Although many people are afraid of bees, carpenter bees are not dangerous to people. The males are the ones that you are most likely to see flying around, and they do not even have stingers. The females do have stingers, but they are not aggressive and will not sting you unless you have attacked them. So if you do have a carpenter bee problem, you can assure everyone in that household that they do not need to be afraid of them. This is especially useful information to have if they are buzzing around near the entrance to your home.
The danger to your house is a little more real, however. As we mentioned earlier, the holes that you see on the outside are only the entrance. There is a network of tunnels in there that will only get bigger as years go by and new generations of bees move in and expand. This can weaken the structural integrity of the wood, and expose it to weather conditions that may further degrade the wood itself, or cause greater leaking problems inside of the home. Depending on where the bees are located, this could be a major problem.
How are they treated?
The most effective way to get rid of carpenter bees is to apply an insecticide to their holes and leave them open for a few days. Dust is the most effective solution because the bees going into the nest will carry it in and spread it to the rest of the bees. After the insecticide has had a few days to spread, the holes will need to be patched and repainted in order to avoid a new crop of bees coming in and making themselves at home.
An experienced pest control operator will also be able to inspect the rest of your house to ensure that any other areas that might be appealing to carpenter bees are taken care of to prevent the problem from coming back. The operator may also be able to identify other problem areas where bees have started to make a home without being noticed.
After treatment, it is a good idea to follow the prevention steps mentioned in a previous section by keeping your paint or sealant fresh.
If you have carpenter bees and are looking for a bee control expert, Cal-Cam Termite and Pest Control is a Lake Charles area pest control company that can identify and treat your problem. We can also inspect for, and control, termites, rodents, ants, roaches, and more. If you need help with a pest problem, please don't hesitate to contact us today.