Spring is the season for all sorts of insects. One of the most noticeable insects buzzing around during spring time is the carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica). These bees can be found throughout most of the country east of the Rocky Mountains.
Carpenter bees tend to emerge in the spring – late March through mid-May depending on location. These bees can be up to one inch long and are black or blue with a metallic sheen. Their presence can be recognized by the behavior of the male carpenter bees. Male carpenter bees cannot sting, but they’re still terrifying to most homeowners. The male carpenter bees hover around nesting sites and respond to fast movements. They then approach other bee intruders to help guard their territory. It’s very difficult to capture a male carpenter bee without a net. In fact, once the male carpenter bees see how large a person is, they retreat.
While the male carpenter bees guard the territory, the females spend their time drilling into wood to create a nest for her offspring. On quiet days you can actually hear these bees chewing on the wood. If the wind is calm, a pile of wood dust/shavings will accumulate under the opening. Although female carpenter bees can sting, they are not aggressive. It is the damage to wooden structural items that is of concern – making these bees the most destructive bees in the United States.
To prevent carpenter bees from ruining any structural wood in your home, a good coat of paint can help deter these bees from tunneling. However, some wood stains are less effective. If these bees have already drilled into wood in your home, contact a professional to place insecticidal dust into the holes. Then, wait several days, and close the holes with wood putty.
For more information about carpenter bees and other bugs that might be buzzing around your home this spring, view our insect guide or watch our bug season weather report video.