Carpenter bees are large, fuzzy bees that are very scary looking when they get near. While they aren’t on the lookout for you, they do have an eye on your home, and that is terrifying, too.
The carpenter bee looks a lot like its cousin the bumble bee, with its yellow and black coloring, but the bottom is the giveaway. Bumble bees are fuzzy all over, including their abdomens — carpenter bees are not.
Carpenter bees are generally not aggressive, but they are cause for concern for different reasons. They are destructive. Their name is a dead giveaway. You should worry about carpenter bees because of the potential for damage to your home and other structures on your property.
These bees like to nest in wood. Your house has plenty. Carpenter bees build nests in soft wood, which is what your home, shed, and decks are made of — just to name a few. Carpenter bees drill holes that are roughly half an inch in diameter. Once carpenter bees build the nest, the next thing they do is lay eggs in it. When the offspring arrive, they are not likely to leave the nest.
“I had a huge problem with carpenter bees on my log cabin here on the farm,” said Stew Oldford Sr. of Parshallville. “They look like bumblebees and they love white pine logs. They drill holes deep into the log usually on the sunny side of the cabin. The holes go at least a foot in the log and the sawdust creates a good-sized pile beneath the hole. They lay their eggs there to start the clan the following season. “If left alone they can demolish the structure in several years,” he said.
Oldford said he pumped it full of caulk, and hasn’t seen the bees around for several years. “But I’m sure they will return someday.”
Signs of carpenter bee damage include:
• holes in the side of your home
• wood shavings on the ground beneath holes
• marks on the outside of a hole that look like a fan
• scratching sounds coming from inside the walls (This could also be rodents, so an inspection is required.)
Once a carpenter bee chews a hole in the side of your home, your home is susceptible to more than these bees. Untreated holes and structural damage invite rodents and other pests, mold, and staining on the wood.
If you suspect the holes in your walls are caused by carpenter bees, here are things you can do today to make them go away.
According to MSU Extension, carpenter bees can be controlled by applying a registered insecticide to the opening. Painting, or otherwise sealing (such as caulking), the wood is reported to discourage the bees from chewing their holes.
Despite being destructive, carpenter bees are important pollinators in native plant communities, gardens, and in some crops. As they visit flowers and feed on nectar, they pick up and transfer pollen.