If you notice that the wood in your home, like your walls, doors, window frames and even your furniture, has holes that narrow into tunnels, you may have a carpenter bee problem.
Carpenter bees resemble bumblebees except they almost never sting. Male carpenter bees do not have stingers, but females do. Female carpenter bees will only sting when directly provoked. If you know what a bumblebee looks like, then you will have no problem identifying a carpenter bee. They look exactly the same, except the carpenter bee has a black belly instead of a yellow one.
The Carpenter Bee Problem
Carpenter bees don’t sting, but they leave nasty and unsightly holes about as big as your fingertip in anything made of wood. Unlike termites, these bees do not eat wood; they simply burrow through it. In fact, termites will do more damage than carpenter bee could ever do. (For termite extermination guide, read how to get rid of termites)
These bumblebee-like insects burrow in wood to make their nest. They do not weaken the wood in which they make their home too significantly. You will know that you have a carpenter bee problem when you notice saw dust-like particles near suspicious holes and gaps in your woodwork. You may also notice yellow-brown dust-like particles that are actually their droppings.
By vibrating their bodies while simultaneously biting the wood with their mandibles, these insects are able to create complex tunnels in wood. Though these burrows have only one entrance and exit, they branch out into several tunnels to act as compartments for provisions and rooms. If you notice several similar holes in your walls, those are different colonies of carpenter bees. They tend to cohabit, which is why the colonies tend to build their homes near other carpenter bee homes.
They don’t really pose a serious and direct threat to you or your home, but they can damage your precious wood if left alone. Also, they may attract other animals that prey on carpenter bees. Woodpeckers are the common predators of carpenter bees, so when you do find these birds pecking your house, you definitely have a carpenter bee nest somewhere.
These bees love to drill perfectly round holes through old and soft wood. Wood that is several years old or is exposed to moisture is usually where carpenter bees choose to make their home. These insects can drill deep down into wood and create several branching tunnels as “rooms.” Some carpenter bee burrows that have been found are more than ten feet in length.
Getting Rid of Carpenter Bees
Getting rid of carpenter bees is not that difficult. Probably the most difficult part is simply finding their burrows. The first place you should check is the old wood outside and around your home. These wood piles are the common places where carpenter bees drill to make their lair.
Once you have found the areas where these uninvited bees live, you have three options to get rid of them: cover up their burrows, suck them up with a vacuum cleaner or spray insecticide into their lair.
You can get rid of carpenter bees in your home by covering up their burrows on your wall, window frame or those on your furniture with wood putty, caulk or any other sealant. You do not have to worry about these bees burrowing their way out because they never do. If you do not want to risk dealing with them or using chemicals, then this is your best option because it won’t cost you much time and money.
When sealing up the holes that these insects made, make sure you have the mixture of the putty or any sealant you will be using ready. It may help if you sand the surface first before applying it so that it the sealant will apply smoothly on the surface. Spread the sealant across the hole evenly and make sure it is properly sealed. It may look ugly after to have patches of putty or caulk on your woodwork, so consider sanding and painting over it to cover them up.
If you notice a new hole in your wall and you are sure it is the work of those carpenter bees, you can use your vacuum cleaner to get rid of them. If you don’t want to risk getting stung by the female bees in there, this method is for you. This option is most effective for new or ongoing burrowing.
Use the smallest attachment of your vacuum cleaner and point it directly into the holes you found. The best time to do this is either at dusk or dawn when the bees haven’t left or just returned from foraging. Even if you are armed with a vacuum cleaner, make sure you are wearing thick clothing to protect you from the sting of the angry female carpenter bees. Though they are not the violent type, messing up their nest is considered an attack against them. Wearing a thick sweater, goggles, gloves and denim pants will protect you from possible painful stings.
To prevent them from coming back and reclaiming that burrow, seal it with putty or caulk (Learn how to use silicone caulk. You may want to paint it over again so that it would be less appealing to carpenter bees.
However, if the carpenter bee infestation is too much for you to seal with sealant or suck with a vacuum cleaner, a good can of insecticide will do the trick. Spray it directly on their nests and soak them in it to make sure they drown in the toxic chemical. If you think the infestation in your home is too much for you to handle, you can call in the exterminator to get rid of these insects for you.
Repairing the Damage
The damage caused by carpenter bees is usually superficial and not serious, but often, it is not nice to see gaping holes on your walls and furniture. To remedy these holes, you can fill them with carpenter’s glue or putty. Sanding makes the surface look even again.
If the damage is quite difficult to repair with putty or glue or the wood needs replacement anyway, make sure you replace it with treated wood. Carpenter bees will steer clear of these types of wood. If treated wood is too expensive for your pocket, a nice layer of paint is more than enough. Vinyl siding and polyurethane paint are the most effective against carpenter bees, so you might want to consider getting them for your home. (Tips on how to install vinyl siding)
Preventing the Infestation
To save you the worries, time and money of getting rid of these pests, you must make sure your home is carpenter bee-proof. If your home is made primarily of wood, check around for exposed or soft wood. Either replace or repaint the wood to prevent these insects from drilling in.
Plugging suspicious holes and cracks in your woodwork will also help deter these insects from probing in.
It is during the spring and summer that these insects become active. When these seasons come, check your home for signs of an early infestation and do the necessary steps to avoid the worsening of the infestation. For more information about this article read how to get rid of carpenter bees.
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