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Is It A Carpenter Bee Or A Bumble Bee?

If you saw a carpenter bee, would you know it? A surprising number of people wouldn't. This is because carpenter bees cleverly disguise themselves as another bee that doesn't cause us any trouble: the bumble bee. Okay. Maybe it doesn't disguise itself. But this similar appearance definitely works to the advantage of the carpenter bee. When we see bumble bees, we don't think much about them. Bumble bees are great at pollinating the flowers and plants in our yards, they rarely sting and, most of all, they don't destroy the wood of our homes. If we could tell the difference between bumble bees and carpenter bees, those carpenter bees would have a lot harder time damaging our homes. So, before we talk about the kind of damage carpenter bees can cause, let's take a quick moment to discuss the difference between these two bees.

Visual Differences

While bumble bees and carpenter bees are both large, furry, black and yellow bees, they don't look exactly alike. A bumble bee has fur on its abdomen. And that fur has colors. It may be black and yellow, like the rest of its body, or it may be bands of black, yellow, and white. It depends on the species. If the bee you're trying to identify has a black, shiny abdomen, you're looking at a carpenter bee. This is a visual distinction that can be seen from several feet away.

Behavioral Differences

If you're trying to identify what kind of large bees are buzzing around your home, and you're not close enough to see whether or not they have black, shiny, abdomens, it is possible to distinguish them by where they're hanging out. Bumble bees do not bore holes into wood, so you're not going to find them buzzing around near your eaves and soffits. Big, fat, black and yellow bees that are up near your roofline are carpenter bees. When you find them low to the ground or underneath a deck, and there are no flowers present, you probably have carpenter bees.

Okay. You Have Carpenter Bees. Now What?

When these bees attack a home, they are often left unaddressed, even when a homeowner knows they are carpenter bees. This is because there are a few misconceptions about these wood-boring pests.

  • Is it true that a carpenter bee is only going to make a tunnel that is a little over 8 inches long? Yes. But carpenter bees prefer to use tunnels that are already established.  When they do, they make those tunnels longer. This can lead to greater damage.

  • Is it true that carpenter bees attack unfinished wood, like the wood of a deck or porch? Yes. But don't think for a second that these insects are only going to attack exterior structures. As mentioned above, they love rooflines, eaves, and soffits. If they can find a way in, you're going to start seeing trails of holes start to appear.

  • Is it true that carpenter bees rarely sting? Yes. You may not have to worry about getting stung by one of these bees while walking up the back steps of your home, but you should be concerned about one of those steps giving way. And if those stairs lead up to a raised deck or balcony, you might want to have things checked out so that a railing doesn't give way.

Identification Of Carpenter Bee Damage

Carpenter bee damage can look like a perfect, circular hole, or several dashes and dots running along the length of a board. The circular holes are tunnel entrances. The dashes and dots are where carpenter bees accidentally bore their tunnels too close to the surface. Sometimes, this damage is compounded when woodpeckers come to peck on wood and extract carpenter bee larvae.

Carpenter Bee Prevention

There are some traps available that can help to reduce carpenter bee populations, but we would not suggest this as a solution for this issue. It is also possible to paint or treat wood to make the wood more resistant to attack. But the best solution for a carpenter bee infestation is to have a trained and experienced pest control technician take a look at the problem and offer a comprehensive solution to arrest the infestation and resist future infestations.

For assistance with carpenter bees, and other destructive pests in Connecticut or Massachusetts, feel free to give us a call. The team here at American Pest Solutions uses industry-leading pest control methods and products to prevent pest damage. Help is just a few clicks away.


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