I was dispatched to a Port Monmouth residence to take care of an ongoing problem with carpenter bees. Unfortunately, these bees are as persistent as they are invasive. We had been out to this home previously to treat the home’s gable peaks behind the facia boards (the wood that holds your gutters in place and protects the edges of your roof) that had been infested by carpenter bees. While the treatment of the home had favorable results, there was also a Tiki bar situated near the pool that had an infestation. There was still a carpenter bee problem with this furniture, and I was there to make sure that this homeowner could once again serve the best Mai Tai in town without worrying about bees! The lesson here is that sometimes, with stubborn pest infestations, it can take more than one treatment to resolve the infestation.
Carpenter bees are one of the most common species of bees, and unfortunately, one of the most common household pests. In some respects, they resemble bumblebees. Often, the two are confused. Both bees have thick bodies, emit a similar sound when buzzing around, and, on average, are about the same size. However, carpenter bees fly much faster and the males are very territorial and fly erratically around humans to protect their nests and to keep other potential suitors away from the female. Although the male carpenter bee does not sting, its large size and dive-bombing behavior can be intimidating, especially for children.
Perhaps the biggest distinction between these bees is their coloration. Bumble bees are hairy, black and yellow while carpenter bees have a shiny black body. Bumble bees are beneficial insects because they pollinate plants and flowers as they forage for food. Bumble bees are a welcome sight for gardeners because pollination is necessary for fertilization. Carpenter bees are also pollinators, but, as their name implies, they also have the destructive behavior of boring into wood. This behavior results from the female bees tunneling into wood to lay their eggs. Common nesting sites are fascia boards, eaves, window trim, deck posts and rails as well as outdoor sheds and outdoor wooden furniture. Carpenter bees holes look as through they have been drilled with a 1/2 inch drill bit.
Upon arrival, I inspected the Tiki bar to determine the level of activity. I observed many holes where the female bee had formed her nesting galleries. Numerous bees were flying around the area and crawling around the bar, so I knew that this was an active infestation.
Pest control technicians have different methods for controlling carpenter bee infestations. We use spraying when there are many galleries, such as when we treated the gable peak on this house. With this wooden furniture, I applied a residual insecticide dust to each gallery hole individually. This method, while time-consuming, is highly effective for eliminating the female from the gallery. This is critical because with the female out of the picture, the nest will die. The dust kills the male bee as well. Even though the male does not do the wood boring, he goes into the gallery at night when temperatures drop, and would be exposed to the dust at that time. Finally, because the dust has a long residual effect, it will kill the larvae when they mature.
I dusted each and every individual hole that I could find (see pictures). This treatment works quickly. It reminds me of tear gas to force someone out of their hiding spot. Within 10 minutes, the females are forced to exit the holes. After, contact with the dust, they will soon expire (See picture). I suggested to the homeowner that the holes should be left open for a few days so that returning bees will come into contact with the dust. Once there is no more indication of bee activity, the holes should then be sealed to discourage other carpenter bees looking for nesting sites. I also recommended that a coat of exterior paint or a stain with polyurethane protection be applied to the unfinished wood. While these bees will bore into any wood, they have a clear preference for unfinished wood. Applying a fresh coat of paint or a stain makes the wood much less attractive for these insects.
I’m confident that after this second treatment, the homeowner will soon be back to enjoying his pool and Tiki Bar for the rest of the summer.