Carpenter Bees: What you need to know about their extermination and biology

Carpenter bees will come to your home in May every year, many people aren’t happy about this.   Here are some facts that you should know about carpenter bees and how to choose an exterminator.  I also detailed a problem carpenter bee extermination job that we experienced in Southbury, CT last year.

Carpenter Bee Facts

  • Carpenter bees are not social insects and don’t live in colonies
  • The adults overwinter in abandoned nest tunnels
  • Mated females will re-use old tunnels
  • Carpenter bee holes are perfectly round and the same diameter as her body
  • Female carpenter bees give birth to about 7 young

Exterminating Carpenter bees

Getting rid of carpenter bees at first glance appears to be an easy process.  The reality however is quite different.  Carpenter bee galleries are sometimes placed in areas that are very difficult to access.  The most common of these areas is the underside of the the fascia board at the upper perimeter of the roof line.  What makes this area difficult to exterminate is that the angle needed to reach the holes is nearly impossible to get to.

The next issue with carpenter bee extermination is the timing of an application.  Carpenter bee treatments are sometimes hampered by weather.  For instance, last year Envirocare Pest Control had a carpenter bee job in Southbury, Ct.  The job was scheduled for May, but every time it was scheduled for service, it rained.  The problem with this is that if there are no live carpenter bees to see flying around and the typical pollen and nectar stains are absent there’s no way to know where the holes are.  What happened at this particular home was that by the time the weather was dry enough to provide service the females had given birth.  Once this happens the holes are effectively plugged.

Problems with the carpenter bee life cycle

One of the more fascinating things that female carpenter bees do besides excavating wood, is what they do after they give birth.

Female carpenter bees are great mothers.  After the female gives birth she closes the new egg in a cell.  This cell is sealed by a slurry of pollen and nectar.  Once this cell is sealed the life cycle is cut off from treatment.   This is the reason that the timing of a carpenter bee treatment is so important.  Treatment should take place before the females give birth.

How to kill carpenter bees

I’ve done a lot of carpenter bee work over the years and by far the best way to kill this pest is with an insecticidal dust.  An experienced exterminator can dust individual holes with this material so that the female bee contacts the dust upon entrance or exit of the hole.  Another, but somewhat less effective way to kill carpenter bees is to spray a liquid insecticide at or around the entrance hole.  When the female bee contacts the dried product she’ll pick it up and die in a few short hours.  This type of treatment was very popular in the past.  However, due to recent product label changes concerning runoff of pesticides it may be impractical in some circumstances.

Choosing a carpenter bee exterminator

The reality of carpenter bee work in the pest control industry is that not all carpenter bee exterminators are created equal.  The company that you choose must have the ability to reach the exit holes.   I bring this up as many pest control companies don’t carry ladders.  Without a ladder or other specialized equipment that will allow the technician to access the holes carpenter bee extermination can’t take place.

If you have carpenter bees and need help, call Envirocare Pest Control at 1-888-879-6481.