By Gene Wright
Alexandria, VA – Have you ever noticed fuzzy insects around your house that look like bumblebees but have a shiny black underside instead of a furry yellow one (if you’re able to get that close)? Those are carpenter bees, and their presence causes much dismay among East Coast homeowners.
How bad are carpenter bees in Northern Virginia (and Southern Maryland)? Are they something you should be concerned about, something to be feared, or can you feel free to ignore their presence? Keep reading this simple guide to carpenter bees on the East Coast for everything you need to know.
The Consequences of Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees, like most insects, play two roles: they’re a pest to humans, and they’re vital to the ecosystem.
On the one hand, they are excellent pollinators. Their fuzzy bodies pick up pollen when they land on flowering plants and spread it on others. This facilitates the growth of future generations of plants. Without pollinators, many of the plants we rely on for food and beautiful gardens would die out.
On the flip side, a carpenter bee infestation can do a lot of damage to your home and belongings. These insects get their name because of their ability to drill through wood. Unlike termites, they do not eat it, but they use their strong jaws to burrow into lumber and build homes. (There’s an image!)
Over time, carpenter bees can hollow out the posts on your deck, destroy the structural beams in your house, or chew through the wall of your shed. Thankfully, they are not as aggressive to humans as they are to trees—they will only sting if provoked.
Are there more carpenter bees now?
If you’ve noticed an uptick in the population near you in the past few years, it’s not in your imagination.
In 2003, the EPA banned chromated arsenicals (CCAs), common additives to treated lumber. This was great from an environmental standpoint, with less arsenic leaking into the soil. But the replacement additive, alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ), another wood preservative, does not repel bees as well.
What does that mean for you?
If you’ve rebuilt your deck or other outdoor structures with treated lumber purchased in 2004 or later, you’ll need to keep a close eye out for bees.
If you see signs of a new colony on your property, we think Planet Friendly Pest Control is the team to call. The company takes an environmentally friendly approach to pest control, creating a custom plan for each home, and avoiding chemical insecticides whenever possible. Contact Planet Friendly online (planetfriendlypestcontrol.com) to set up your appointment for a comprehensive inspection today.