How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees – The Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on May 14th 2020

Given the time, money, and effort that homeowners invest into caring for their wooden decks, it only makes sense to protect them from carpenter bees that are capable of causing major damage to their property. Whether you are looking for tips to get rid of carpenter bees or want to prevent an infestation before it even begins, knowing what carpenter bees look, how to spot them, and how to deal with them can save you thousands of dollars in wood repair services and months of trouble.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees

There are a number of ways to eliminate carpenter bees and prevent a relapse. If left untreated, a carpenter bee infestation can continue to spread and invite expensive wood rot repairs. Follow these guidelines on how to get rid of carpenter bees.

  • Spray a residual insecticide Spray liquid insecticides in areas where the bees are active. The carpenter bees make holes into varnished or painted wood. They usually make holes on the underside of the wood surfaces, such as decks, fence posts, soffits, window frames, etc. Spray the liquid disinfectant at least 2 times at an interval of 3 to 4 weeks during spring months. For severe infestations, you may need to spray more than twice at a two-week interval. Follow the spray treatment with dusting the holes with insecticides.
  • Dust in the carpenter bee holes Dust in the carpenter bee holes with insecticides. The holes may seem an inch or two deep, but they actually extend at a 90-degree angle. Use a specially designed duster that can fit into the 90-degree angle.
  • Plug up the holes Plug the entrance of the holes with plugs, putty, cork, or a caulking compound. Ensure that you plug the holes after all the carpenter bees are killed. The early fall months are the best time to plug the holes. If you plug the holes too early, the carpenter bees will not have passed through the insecticide dust. And because they are still alive and the holes are plugged, they will chew new openings in the wood. The following year, make sure you spray early to prevent further boring.
  • Use carpenter bee traps If you want to adopt a non-chemical method, then you can use the trap. The carpenter bee traps are designed to attract and trap the bees. You just need to hang the carpenter bee trap over the carpenter bee holes.

Characteristics of Carpenter Bees

Scientifically known as Genera Xylocopa and Ceratina, carpenter bees get their name from their habit of boring into the wood like a carpenter and can be categorized into two categories – large and small.

  • Large carpenter bees (Xylocopa) look similar to bumblebees, have yellow hair and yellow sections on the face but often lack yellow stripes or hair on their abdomen, and their size varies from anywhere between 12 to 25 mm.
  • Small carpenter bees (Ceratina) are less than 8 mm long, have a metallic appearance and scanty hair on the body. Carpenter bees are typically attracted by weathered or unfinished wood, and while they do not feed on wood, they dig up tunnels in the eaves of your home, decks, siding, porches, cladding, and headboards and use them as nests.
  • Nesting Habits Unlike bumblebees, carpenter bees are solitary creatures that hibernate over the winter months. They are commonly found in abandoned nest tunnels and surface during the spring to feed on nectar.
  • Diet and Habitat Carpenter bees don’t feed on wood, but they live on nectar and pollen, and they do not live in nests or colonies. Female bees bore holes in softwood to lay eggs and protect their developing larvae. The holes that they drill can be about 1/2 inch in diameter. Carpenter bees prefer to nest in unfinished wood as it is easier to drill and enables them to create tunnels. Seasoned hardwoods, softwoods, and decaying woods are relatively vulnerable to pest infestations.
  • Other Threats Posed by Carpenter Bees Carpenter bees pose a serious threat to the property as they can damage the structure over time if the infestation is left untreated. Male carpenter bees are generally protective about their territory, and while they do not sting, they may aggressively hover around residents, which can be very annoying. Female carpenter bees may sting; however, it is not potent, and they rarely use it.

Signs of Infestation

A carpenter bee infestation can be easily spotted if you look for the following signs:

  • Round, smooth entry holes in wooden decks
  • The presence of sawdust wherever holes have been drilled
  • A yellowish combination of bee droppings and pollen near the holes
  • Annoying flight activity of male carpenter bees
  • Wood damage caused by excavation
  • “Frass” that looks like sawdust near drilled areas

Carpenter Bee Prevention

Tips to Protect Wood from Damage

  • Carpenter bees prefer bare wood, so painting and staining wood can sometimes help deter them.
  • If your house is infested with carpenter bees, spray a residual insecticide in the affected areas.
  • Plug all the holes during the fall using cork or putty.
  • If you don’t want to use chemicals, hang traps at all the entry points, including the peaks and corners of your home.
  • Seal and caulk all the cracks, crevices, and exterior openings to prevent nesting activity.
  • Even with all these precautionary measures, carpenter bees will sometimes still attack stained or painted wood, so it is best to contact a pest control professional for proper carpenter bee control.

Our residential pest control services include effective chemical treatment of the galleries that carpenter bees bore into the wood members of the house, decks or patio overhangs, as well as carpenter bee traps. After the bees have been taken care of, we can also patch the holes or replace the wood members if they are structurally damaged or badly cosmetically damaged.

Call (209) 832-7300 for residential pest control services that ensure 100% customer satisfaction.

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