Here in North Georgia carpenter bees can be quite menacing to say the least. If you’ve ever been plagued with them, you know exactly what I’m talking about. In case you don’t know…we hope this article will give you a little insight on how to protect yourself from these critters that crave wood!
Carpenter bees are big black solitary bees that look similar to bumble bees but have bare, shiny backs whereas a bumble bee’s back is hairy. Unlike honey bees that reproduce in hives, carpenter bees drill into wood in order to lay their eggs. Their holes are perfectly round and about 1/4 inch in diameter. Crazy huh?
Although carpenter bees prefer softwoods such as cedar, redwood, or cypress, they happily attack pine and most other species of wood. Even pressure treated wood is not immune from carpenter bee attack. As the bee drills into the wood, coarse sawdust may be seen coming out of the hole and piling up beneath. Since it only takes a couple of hours for a carpenter bee to drill a hole a few inches deep, lots of holes can appear over a fairly short period of time.
Since carpenter bees tend to migrate back to the same area from which they emerged, it is important to implement some control measures in order to prevent logs and wood members from becoming riddled by these bees.
Preventing Carpenter Bees
Although carpenter bees prefer bare wood they will attack wood that is stained. Painted wood surfaces, on the other hand, are rarely attacked since the bees don’t recognize it as wood. We’ve recently discovered that the presence of a gloss topcoat on top of a stain appears to act somewhat like a painted surface in that carpenter bees rarely drill through it. It could be that the slick, hard surface does not appeal to them.
One way to keep carpenter bees from drilling into wood is by spraying pesticides that contain either cypermethrin or deltamethrin onto wood surfaces. When it comes to carpenter bees, these products act more as repellants thatn contact poisons. However, the effectivness of these applications is only about three to four weeks so the treatment will have to be repeated every so often. Pesticides should only be used during the periods of peak activity in the spring and perhaps again in late fall. Be sure to follow label directions and read and understand any precautions that must be taken when using these product.
Treating Carpenter Bee Holes
Any carpenter bee holes you can reach should be treated and plugged since existing holes attract more carpenter bees. The way to treat an existing hole and tunnel depends on the time of year and if bees are present at the time of treatment. If the female is drilling away when you find a hole (you can see sawdust coming out or hear her working inside) spray a contact pesticide like wasp and hornet spray or WD-40 into the hole. She will quickly back out and die. Immediately fill the hole with wood putty or Energy Seal. You need to treat the hole even if it appears empty since the bee may be resting and, if left alive, will drill back through the plug you’ve just inserted.
If you find carpenter bee holes in late spring or early summer it’s difficult to tell if there are bee larvae developing in the tunnels. The best thing to do is to run a length of flexible wire into the tunnels in order to break through the pollen plugs separating the chambers. Then spray a pesticide into the hole and seal it up. Another option is WD-40. It comes with a long, thin tube that’s inserted into the nozzle. You need to push the tube into the hole as far as it will go to break through the chamber walls then spray as you pull it out. The same thing shoulg be done on holes found in the fall or winter to kill any bees that may be over-wintering in the holes. Just remember to plug the holes since they will attract more carpenter bees come Spring.
If you’re a cabin owner in North Georgia, hopefully this has helped you prevent or treat the damage from carpenter bees. Don’t be caught off guard – once holes are made, plugging them can take away from the aesthetics of your home so protect yourself!
Chad Lariscy | The Mountain Life Team | KW Realty Partners 706-745-3123 or [email protected]
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