Carpenter Bees: How To Identify And Avoid Them

May 28, 2019

Carpenter bees are a fixture during the summer in the Eastern United States. Once the weather gets warm you’d be hard-pressed to go anywhere in New Jersey and New York without seeing them buzzing around buildings and blooming flowers. And in Southern Florida, where the summer weather doesn’t really quit, they practically never go away. While not as angry as some other types of bees, carpenter bees can still be aggressive if you spend too much time sweating it out near their doorstep. But worst of all, carpenter bees have earned their name: they’ll munch through and nest in wood all around your property.

It’s true; these fat and flappy fellows will feast on your fences, front door, and fascia until they’re full and feeling fantastic. In the meantime, you’ll be dealing with costly and ugly damage to your property and dreading every buzz you hear throughout the rest of the summer. If they find an opportunity to build a nest near or in your home, you may as well create a tiny guest room, because they’ll be coming back to terrorize you at least once every year. So, how can you identify the potential for infestation and what can you do to avoid one? Read on to learn how to spot carpenter bees, their telltale signs of damage, and how to keep them from chewing up your property, time and money.

Bumblebees Vs. Carpenter Bees – “Marking” the Difference 

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “I don’t need help figuring out what carpenter bees look like, they’re everywhere!” But are you absolutely certain what you’re seeing isn’t a bumblebee? After all, the two get confused all the time. Similar in size, shape and even occasionally color, carpenter bees are fairly difficult to differentiate from their more sting-y cousins with a passing glance. So here are some major differences between bumblebees and carpenter bees.

For starters, bumblebee bodies are covered from front to back in a kind of fur known as pile, whereas carpenter bees are only furry on their middle abdomen while having a shiny backside. Also, it might shock you to know that bumblebees are the chubbier of the two species, even though common knowledge tells you the exact opposite is true! As for their similarities in color, occasionally a carpenter bee will exhibit yellow markings, but only around their heads. Bumblebees have yellow markings that can span their entire bodies. Finally, while bumblebees can be a menace around homes and offices, carpenter bees have the ability to burrow their way right into them. 

Carpenter Bee Damage – How “Wood” You Tell? 

Perhaps the single most defining feature of carpenter bees, females in particular, are their massive mandibles that they use to tear through soft, rotted, or untreated hardwoods. These resourceful pests will often drill several feet into wooden structures, with many branching paths used as egg storage areas. While the process takes a fair bit of time, the damage it can cause over the course of a nesting season is daunting. Here are some signs of carpenter bees causing damage to your property:

  • Half-inch holes in any wooden structures 
  • Small piles of sawdust very close to the wood damage 
  • Yellow streaks streaming down the wood outside the hole
  •  An angry bee that always seems to be flying around when you get close to the hole 
    You hear noise in walls and behind wood in a given structure 

Avoid Infestation 

While all of this sounds pretty intimidating, there are ways to avoid carpenter bees becoming a prevalent problem. For starters, be sure to paint or stain any structural or decorative wood around your property. Carpenter bees prefer untreated wood and are less likely to chew through a good coat of varnish or a clean paint job. Before summer hits, inspect the wood around your home or office for any suspicious-looking holes that look like they might be part of a nest. Simply plugging them up with something or repairing the damage can go a long way in deterring carpenter bees from ever returning.

Then again, if you’re unsure whether or not you’re infested with carpenter bees or the problem is beyond your control, you can always count on AMCO Pest Solutions. AMCO has been coming up against critters that cause structural damage for a long time. In fact, we got our start as termite control consultants nearly a century ago. So if you want an affordable and definitive solution to your carpenter bee problem, give us a buzz at 888-593-4948! 






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