A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING CARPENTER BEES
Your deck is an important part of your home that adds value and utility. Homeowners often put a lot of time, money, and effort into making their deck the best it can be, and protecting that investment is vital to keeping it in pristine condition. Carpenter bees are one of the most threatening aspects of deck deterioration, but with the proper preparedness and research, you can protect your deck from an infestation that might cause irreparable damage. We’ve compiled some of the most important information about carpenter bee trap below to help you with your preparation.
WOOD DECKS THAT ATTRACT CARPENTER BEES
Many people assume that carpenter bees actually feed on wood, but they actually just chew through it in the process of building a home for themselves. However, the end result is the same: a deck pocked with holes and structural damage. Carpenter bees are most commonly attracted to unfinished wood that hasn’t been painted. Essentially, the more raw the wood is, the more likely it will attract carpenter bees. This is because they prefer to avoid paints and other surface coatings when burrowing into wood. Softer woods are also more attractive to carpenter bees, like white pine. Harder wood types, like mahogany, will repel carpenter bees naturally due to their density, but all unfinished wood is still susceptible to damage.
DECKING MATERIALS RESISTANT TO CARPENTER BEES
The two most effective forms of protection against carpenter bee infestations are pressure-treated wood and composite materials. Wood that has been pressure-treated is denser and therefore harder to bore into, and it is covered in protective chemicals that also deter insects. Unfortunately, older wood that was pressure-treated years ago can lose its additional density and protective elements, and sometimes new treatments are needed. Composites, on the other hand, are essentially resistant to everything, from insects to natural deterioration. The most popular materials are PVC and other dense plastics, but other synthetic materials are available as well. Composites requires less maintenance and are cheaper in the long run.
SIGNS OF AN INFESTATION
You might have a hard time distinguishing carpenter bees from honey bees or other buzzing insects, but there are several distinct signs to look for. You most likely will notice holes in your deck or other wooden surfaces outside your home, and you may notice a sawdust-like substance below the holes. These holes are usually about half an inch wide and serve as the entrance point for the bees’ tunnel. The outer edges of the holes may also appear yellowish or stained. You may notice bees around your property, but find that none ever approach your deck. That may be a sign that your bees are actually honey bees searching for flowers to pollinate, which is an important aspect of their lifecycle, and ours as well. Be wary of stings, also. Male carpenter bees aren’t capable of stinging, but the females can sting if they feel sufficiently threatened by close proximity or imminent danger of their brood.
HOW TO DEAL WITH INFESTATIONS
Of course, the most effective way to deal with infestations is to prevent them before they start. It takes quite some time for carpenter bees to bore their tunnels, so once you notice an infestation forming, you have plenty of time to act. The bees would rather continue to use their pre-existing tunnels than create new ones, so those initial holes may end up being the extent of the visible portion of the infestation. There are cases where a handful of exterior holes have led to labyrinths of interior tunnels that drastically weaken the structure of the deck.
Insecticides are one effective method for combating carpenter bees. A small dusting of the insecticide can be applied to their entrance holes, and within a few days the bees will have walked through the poison and succumbed to it. If you happen to place your insecticide after the mating season, you can apply a second dusting in the late spring to kill the offspring. It is recommended that these poisons be applied at night when the bees aren’t active.
Another exceptionally efficient method of removing carpenter bees is with the use of a trap, like the BeesNThings Carpenter Bee Traps. These clever constructions are made to resemble birdhouses, but they capture and hold carpenter bees with a glass jar that attaches to the trap from the exterior. They require no maintenance or bait, and the jar can be easily removed and cleaned for continuous use.