Carpenter bees are the largest bee species in the U.S. That probably explains why these gentle
giants cause so much damage each year to wooden structures.
In this handy guide to carpenter bee control, you’ll learn:
- How to Quickly Remove Carpenter Bees From Your Home
- How To Prevent Them From Coming Back
- The Differences Between Carpenter Bees and Other Species
- Signs and Causes of an Infestation
If trying to exterminate carpenter bees on your own becomes too challenging, we recommend Orkin, Terminix, and Aptive. These exterminators have some of the best-trained professionals that can use traps, baits, and other chemically treated solutions that are often more effective than standard DIY methods.
For Terminix quotes, you can reach them at 866-577-5051 or with this form.
For quotes from Orkin, call 866-701-4556, or fill out this form.
For a free quote from Aptive, call 855-521-7075 or visit the company’s website.
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table of Contents
How To Get Rid of Carpenter Bees
Solving your carpenter bee problem requires an integrated approach. Luckily for you, our pest control experts know what that means. Here, we show you the steps necessary to take care of even the most extensive carpenter bee infestation.
Several aerosol bee sprays, sometimes labeled for wasps, are available to remove unwanted carpenter bees. To apply them, be sure to treat the affected area at night when the bees are subdued. Also, it will ensure you kill any adults that may be hiding.
A longer-lasting solution involves the use of an insecticide dust. First, you pump a small amount directly into the tunnel using a bulb duster. Then, as the insects crawl through it, they die over a long period.
Better still is the use of a wettable powder paired with an insect growth regulator (IGR). This combination not only knocks down adult bees but destroys their larvae as well.
Several DIY methods exist for homeowners who balk at the idea of handling chemical pesticides. The following are some ideas to get you started.
Essential Oil Sprays
Citrus oil sprays work the best for carpenter bees. To treat the nest, set the spray bottle to the stream spray setting. Also, be sure to use a large volume so it will penetrate every possible tunnel.
For unknown reasons, citrus fruit juices do not seem to work as well. So, it’s best to stick with the essential oil sprays instead.
Almond oil can be another decent alternative. Scientists don’t know why, but it has repellent properties that bees hate. While it can be easier to find than citrus spray formulas, it’s often not so gentle on the wallet.
Carpenter Bee Traps
Carpenter bee traps provide a way to slowly eliminate them without any pesticide sprays. They feature a wooden box resembling a birdhouse that mimics the carpenter bee’s nesting system.
Once inside, the bees cannot find their way out and get trapped inside a jar, and eventually, they suffocate and die. This system makes the traps convenient since all you have to do is unscrew the jar to empty them.
Although carpenter bees become annoyed with loud music, no scientific evidence suggests that it deters them from boring into wooden structures. Instead, it’s preferable to prevent infestations in the first place.
Studies concerning ultrasonic pest repellers are mixed. However, there is some anecdotal evidence they work in certain situations. For that reason, they may be worth a try.
To repair carpenter bee holes, it’s best to wait 48 hours after treating them with insecticide sprays, and this will provide plenty of time for the bees to die. Otherwise, a surviving queen could merely drill her way out and infest another location.
To plug the holes, it’s best to install wooden dowels. Then apply wood putty over them to obtain a tight seal. Finally, be sure to varnish or paint the bare wood since carpenter bees are more attracted to unfinished exteriors.
Citrus oil sprays work the best for carpenter bees.
To treat the nest, set the spray bottle to the stream spray setting. Also, be sure to use a large volume so it will penetrate every possible tunnel.
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How to Prevent Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees sting, but they also damage exposed wood surfaces, so a coat of varnish will help deter them. Also, since they prefer soft materials to bore through, it’s best to install hardwood for remodeling projects where possible.
Carpenter bees are pollinators of certain types of vegetable plants. However, eliminating flowering vegetation in your yard will have little effect on controlling them.
Instead, it’s recommended to caulk cracks and crevices around window sills. Also, be sure to close openings around eaves with steel wool. Last, securing fascia boards will prevent bees from nesting in roof areas.
Chemical Prevention Measures
Before sealing tunnels, it’s good to use a dry insecticide such as diatomaceous earth or boric acid to discourage nesting. As an alternative, you could spray each hole with a residual liquid insecticide. Just be sure to install a crack and crevice attachment to the sprayer wand.
Further, you may want to spot-treat the surface area. Even so, the residual effect will typically only last between 30 and 90 days. For that reason, it’s advisable to schedule regular treatments, especially if you frequently have carpenter bee problems.
How To Identify Carpenter Bees
Do not confuse carpenter bees with bumblebees or honeybees, although they look similar to both species. They are all black with some yellow or white on the upper thorax. In contrast, the best way to tell carpenter bees from other bees is by their shiny abdomens.
Female carpenter bees have stingers while the males do not. While they’re mostly docile, they will attack when provoked.
During early spring and well into the summer months, carpenter bees nest in soft wooded forests. In urban areas, they build galleries around homes made of wood to lay their eggs.
Look for structural damage to unfinished wood in these locations:
- Wooden patios and decks
- Soft wooden beams
- Peripheral structures such as wooden sheds and barns
Carpenter bee holes are about a half-inch in diameter with smooth edges and are almost perfectly symmetrical. You can tell if you have them by the small piles of sawdust beneath each one.
Signs & Causes of a Carpenter Bee Infestation
Carpenter bees bore holes into softwood. They construct galleries similar to those of termites but much smaller and not as extensive. The females lay eggs within these fortifications to keep their young from predators.
They usually perform nest-building in the wild. However, like most insects, carpenter bees utilize domains that are most available at the time.
They prefer to infest softwoods that are dry and not rotten. For example:
- Douglas fir
- Eastern white pine
- Ponderosa pine
- Western red cedar
Unlike the majority of bee species, carpenter bees do not live in colonies. Instead, adults typically overwinter individually within each chamber. As a result, having several holes in a single board could cause structural damage over many years.
One Last Thing
Although carpenter bees are important pollinators, they can cause a headache for homeowners. But, despite that, it’s possible to manage them while preventing widespread damage to your home. And hopefully, we have given you enough information here to do exactly that.
Getting rid of carpenter bees is not all about spraying pesticides everywhere, and you also have to seal them out using wood putty and caulking. Additionally, it’s wise to repair areas around the home where bees can nest.
If that all seems like a lot of work, it is. For that reason, you need to seek the advice of an exterminator or pest control company. They can provide you with the expertise required in case you need help.