Learn how to get rid of carpenter bees and keep them from returning
Although carpenter bees are beneficial to the environment, they can do serious structural damage to a home. This guide will help you learn more about carpenter bee habits and determine what steps you must take to get rid of carpenter bees around your home.
Identify Signs of Infestation
Carpenter bees are desirable in the environment because they are excellent pollinators. Unfortunately, when they nest in your home, carpenter bees cause extensive wood damage. While they do not feed on the wood itself, they do bore into it to create nesting "galleries" where they lay eggs in the spring and take shelter in the winter.
While the holes carpenter bees create may seem minor, these galleries are much bigger internally than we can see. A gallery tunnel follows a straight path for a few inches, then turns sharply 90 degrees and extends for several feet. Because the tunnels take so long to construct, females prefer to return to already constructed tunnels season after season and enlarge them as needed. This increases the damage to the wood. If unchecked, the damage from carpenter bees can completely destabilize all the wood in the area they have colonized. In addition, the presence of carpenter bees can attract woodpeckers who further burrow into the wood looking for larval stage bees to eat.
Signs of Carpenter Bee Infestation:
- ½- to ¾-inch circular openings in wood
- Sawdust around or near those openings
A yellow substance near or just inside
- Threatening flight activity around the area - usually males defending territory
A large bee infestation might require professional intervention. However, since carpenter bees are not social insects, you will not normally have a large hive to deal with. Traps and sprays can be used efficiently to eliminate carpenter bees as you find them around your property.
Tip: Remember when selecting a treatment that male carpenter bees, though aggressive in protecting territory, have no stingers. Only females are capable of stinging, but these relatively passive insects will only do so if they perceive a direct threat.
Pest Prevention Methods
Take measures to prevent the return of carpenter bees. The early fall is the best time to execute preventative measures because the galleries will most likely be empty; the young adult bees will have hatched and moved on and mature bees will not have settled in for winter.
1. Plug up carpenter bee holes. Use plugs, putty or caulk to plug up the holes after the bees have vacated the gallery.
2. Seal up your home. Cover exterior openings with fine mesh screens or caulk for small crevices.
3. Varnish or paint. Carpenter bees prefer weathered or unfinished wood. Paint or varnish exposed wood surfaces around your home to make them less attractive to the bees. The most vulnerable areas are windowsills, railings, decks, fences, doors, eaves and wooden lawn furniture.
- For more information on pest control, see our related guides: How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies, How to Get Rid of Roaches and How to Get Rid of Fleas.