If you are seeing, what look like bumblebees, flying around underneath the eaves of your home, you are probably looking at carpenter bees. Bumblebees are large, social bees that are around 1/2 to 1 inch long with black and yellow (and sometimes orange) body markings. Carpenter bees look a lot like bumblebees in size and appearance but the top of the abdomen of a carpenter bee is mostly without hairs and is shiny black in color. (A bumblebee's abdomen is completely covered in hairs, most of them yellow.)
Here are six things that are important to know about carpenter bees, especially if you are seeing them on your property.
Male carpenter bees do not have the ability to sting. If you are seeing these large bees hanging around underneath your eaves, you are probably seeing male carpenter bees. They will, however, dart at any other insect that comes into their territory. Waving your arms near a male carpenter bee will probably attract his attention and make him act aggressively toward you. While a female carpenter bee IS capable of stinging, they rarely do so. She must be extremely provoked, or even handled directly, in order to sting.
Female carpenter bees create holes. While males are busy acting like they can sting, the females are busy digging, or tunneling through wooden areas in order to create nests. These circular holes made by these wood-chewing pests are almost completely circular and are only a little bit larger than the female bees that bore them. These holes will usually be found underneath boards because carpenter bees prefer to bore straight up through wood and then make a right angle (or follow the grain of the wood they are boring into.) Sometimes, when a female carpenter bee follows the grain on a roofline board, it is possible to see a path of holes that travel along with the grain. That leads us to our next point...
Unlike termites, carpenter bees do not die when they are exposed to the air or to the drying effects of the sun. For this reason, holes made by these bees are not always circular. When tunnel walls breach the surface of wood, the holes can be any shape. Carpenter bees don't come in a giant swarm and create a bunch of damage all at once. It happens over time, in a way that is so subtle it is often missed by homeowners--especially at first.
You can sometimes hear carpenter bees inside wood. When there are several bees inside wood chewing at the same time, it can make a noticeable sound. This sound can be quite disconcerting, especially if you know what is causing the sound.
Carpenter bees create what looks like sawdust. They do not eat wood, the way termites do. Carpenter bees simply chew tunnels and then push the frass out. This frass is essentially the same thing as sawdust. It can be found in piles or spread out underneath where these bees are carving out tunnels. This frass may also cling to certain surfaces, in places such as the frame of a door or window, a board, or a portion of your rafters, eaves or underneath a patio or deck.
Carpenter bees can, indirectly, injure humans. This can happen if a carpenter bee infestation is left unchecked and these bees are allowed to return year after year to create more tunnels inside untreated wooden structures. When enough tunnels are made to weaken structures such as staircases or decks, boards can give way, causing a person who is walking on those surfaces to be injured.
How Russell's Can Help
Carpenter bee numbers will only increase if they are not treated and do-it-yourself carpenter bee eradication methods can cause more damage to your home, and lead to continued damage if some bees are left behind. For instance, when bees are sealed inside the wood they are nested in. It is best to have a trained pest professional arrest your carpenter bee issue and help prevent future infestations from occurring.
Reach out to Russell's today if you have questions or to set up residential pest control service. You will be glad you did.
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