Carpenter bees look a lot like honey bees to most of us, but they’re easily recognized by trained professionals.  Like honey bees, carpenter bees are large (about 1 inch in length), and, like their cousins, have yellow and black patterned markings.  Unlike honey bees, their abdomens are shiny (though most of us don’t get close enough to make that observation).  And, like honey bees, they’re typically first spotted in the spring, usually hovering near porch rails, upper decks and eaves.

Do Carpenter Bees Pose a Danger to Omaha Homeowners?

Carpenter bees get their name from the fact that they bore into wood, not for food (like honey bees, carpenter bees eat pollen and nectar, not wood), but for reproductive purposes.  The female carpenter bee bores a hole of about ½ inch in diameter, and creates a channel of anywhere from 6 inches to 4 feet in length, laying her eggs near the end of the channel.  She then takes pollen into the channel, food for her hatched larvae, and then seals up the channel.  She will repeat this process over and over, destroying more and more wood in the process.

The good news for homeowners is that carpenter bees do not pose as large a threat as other pests (like termites), because they don’t spread throughout an entire structure.  But they do cause damage, and they do need to be exterminated.

How Do You Get Rid of Carpenter Bees?

If you suspect an infestation of carpenter bees, your best move is to work with experienced pest control specialists who have the knowledge and tools to ensure the problem is taken care of.  That said, here are the steps necessary to exterminate carpenter bees:

  • Spray a residual pesticide: unlike non-residual pesticides, residual pesticides remain effective for some period of time (typically 2 to 3 months) after they’re applied to ensure that pests continue to be exterminated.
  • Use a residual dust: after spraying the residual pesticide, you should put a residual dust into each of the carpenter bee holes.  Spraying and dusting must be comprehensive and thorough, which can be difficult since some of the holes are difficult to spot.  Again, to be sure, you should work with trained professionals.
  • Plug up the holes in the fall: you need to plug up every hole, but you don’t want to do this until the fall.  If you plug up holes while the bees are still active, you could make the problem worse, since the bees inside will simply bore a new hole to escape.  Wait until you’re sure all the bees are dead before plugging. Effective plugs include putty, cork and caulking compounds.
  • Repeat the entire treatment: in some instances, such as those in which carpenter bees are infesting cedar or log structures, it’s necessary to repeat the entire process two or more times.

Are There Non-Chemical Alternatives?

If you’re concerned about using chemicals like residual insecticide sprays and dusts, an alternative is purchasing carpenter bee traps, which are designed to attract and trap the bees.  If you already have a carpenter bee infestation, you should hang your traps directly over the holes.  If you are trying to prevent a new infestation, you should hang your traps on the sunniest side of the house near peaks and corners of your home.

How Can I Prevent Carpenter Bee Infestations?

There are preventive measures you can take to keep carpenter bees from destroying exterior wood surfaces.  It’s important to take preventive measures before nesting activity has begun (in other words, before any holes appear).  Since carpenter bees look for unfinished wood, such as the untreated wood on the underside of decks, varnish or paint these surfaces, which makes them less attractive to the bees, and seal any observable cracks in wood surfaces.  If there was a previous infestation, make sure you plug all carpenter bee holes.

Call the Professionals

While it’s possible to take care of carpenter bee infestations on your own, for most people, it’s not a do-it-yourself project.  One of the reasons carpenter bee infestations are so pervasive is that the bees are good at what they do.  They bore holes and channels in locations you can’t see, and getting rid of them requires effective and often repeated treatments.

Considering the cost of exterior wood repair, hiring an experienced pest control specialist is a sound investment.  For more information about the ways we can help you prevent and treat carpenter bee and other pest infestations, contact us today.