It seems that every year around this time in the spring/early summer, we are inundated with calls in the Raleigh area about “bumble bees swarming around my house” or “big bees eating the wood around my home”. These are carpenter bees.
These yellow and black bees are seen in numbers hovering around your deck and eaves of your home. The carpenter bee is often mistaken for a bumble bee and can cause people to panic. Luckily the carpenter bee female will rarely sting (the male is not able to sting and can be identified by the white spot on the front of their face) and are more of a nuisance than a safety concern. Although not a huge deal, these insects can make a mess around your home, and in some cases, they can cause unsightly damages.
The carpenter bees emerge as adults in April and May and will begin constructing new tunnels within a few weeks. The bees begin to tunnel straight into the wood for a couple of inches (this makes a perfect ½” sized hole) and then horizontally for six to seven inches. If the tunnel is reused several years in a row the tunnel can extend up to several feet long. The female then lays an egg inside this tunnel near a “pollen” ball that the offspring will feed on, seals off this section with a partition, and then repeats this process six to seven times. The eggs will hatch in a few days and complete their development in five to seven weeks.
“Carpenter bees are attacking my Raleigh home! What can I do?”
Although not the easiest insect to control and almost an impossible insect to prevent, treating each individual hole with an insecticidal dust and/or spray can decrease the number of carpenter bees around your home and can break the cycle of them returning year after year. After treating the tunnels and the bees are gone, you can stuff the hole with a small amount of aluminum foil, caulk/seal with a wood filler and repaint/re-stain to deter them from returning the following year. Since this type of treatment can be so time consuming and would involve several trips by our service professionals, we do not currently offer this service.
“I have a home in Cary, NC that has damages that look different from the small, round hole that other carpenter bees make. This damage is on my fascia trim and is long and skinny. Are these the same insect?”
In your case you have two things damaging your home. First, carpenter bees have infested your fascia trim and have created tunnels in which to lay eggs in. Second, the carpenter bee galleries have been discovered by wood peckers and they have damage the wood to expose the carpenter bee young and to feed on them. In this case it is recommended to have the fascia board removed and replaced with a fascia board made from a different, insect resistance product (most of wood trim now comes in a PVC or plastic product that will hold up better to insect attack and is more weather resistant).
More information can be found about Carpenter Bees at North Carolina State University Extension site HERE.