Question: What type of insect makes holes in the wood of my porch?
Answer: ALERT!!!! Bee on the lookout for Carpenter bees hovering around eaves of structures and other exposed wood areas such as porches, barns, and stacks of lumber. These bees become active during the spring and are black and yellow in color. People often mistake the carpenter bee for the bumblebee. One positive factor for determining which bee species you have is the small amounts of sawdust found near exposed wood where the carpenter bees are tunneling. They chew a round hole that measures approximately half-inch in diameter. These holes are typically found on the underside of the boards. Their prime targets are wood decks and exposed wood on homes including eaves.
Carpenter bees overwinter as adults and emerge in April and May. Male carpenter bees have a white spot on their face, the females do not. The males cannot sting because they don’t have a stinger; however, they can and will harass people and other bees that get near their nests because they are very territorial. Females have a stinger and will sting if they are very agitated. However, it is rare for them to sting unless someone has really irritated them.
Treatment to control carpenter bees can be difficult and time consuming. Applying protective insecticides as a preventative measure to exposed wood surfaces are effective for a short time and would need to be reapplied several times. It is difficult to determine where the bees may tunnel next, so it is impractical to treat all exposed areas of wood because pesticide products only last for a short time and the bees aren’t consuming enough wood to expose them to a lethal dose. Swatting the bees can be just as effective, just a bit time consuming. One last option for control would be to treat the entrance holes of the tunnels with carbaryl, cyfluthrin, or resmethrin and seal off the holes with foil, putty, cork, or some type of object to fill in holes. Keep in mind some carpenter bees may be resourceful enough to tunnel another exit hole to bypass the treated areas.
Reminder: A new program for 2012 is the “Sampson County Friends of Horticulture.” This program offers monthly “How To” Horticultural Seminars. Please call (910) 592-7161 for more information. Please turn your radio to WCLN 1170AM every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at noon (that’s lunch time) and listen to the Sampson County Ag Minute segment, which is brought to you by the Sampson County Extension Agricultural Agents. Please call the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center at (910) 592-7161 with your horticultural questions and to register for any upcoming events. Be sure to check out the Ask An Expert Widget at sampson.ces.ncsu.edu for any questions you may have.