Pests

Published on November 10th, 2013 | by Henri

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Carpenter bees and woodpeckers are destroying eaves

Q.    Carpenter bees are destroying the eaves on the west side of my house. And, now, a woodpecker is adding to the damage by going for the eggs. If I cover the eaves with vinyl or aluminum, do you think the bees will start boring into the cedar siding? What else can I do? I put two coats on the eaves every year to no avail.

A.    Carpenter bees drill round holes about an inch deep into the edge of unpainted boards, boards with very old paint, and boards with clear or semi-transparent stain. Then they turn 90-degrees and drill “galleries” four to six inches long into which they lay their eggs, one at a time, in cells they close as they progress. Insecticide dust, wettable powders and aerosol residual formulations work best, but aerosol injection systems are the most efficient way to treat galleries, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).

The NPMA recommends not sealing the galleries for 24 to 48 hours so that the female queen bee has time to be exposed to the lethal application. Carpenter bees rarely attack painted wood, so you may want to apply a fresh coat of paint to any vulnerable areas if the coating you have been applying is a semi-transparent stain.

However, if you are using paint instead of stain, you seem to be an exception; you may have encountered a very “stubborn” or “super” bee! The vulnerable areas can be additionally protected by spraying them with an appropriately labeled repellent for flying insects. A licensed pest management professional should be able to perform the treatment.

Your sketch indicates that your siding is made of cedar shakes. I doubt that the bees will attack them as, according to the description above, they need a wider board to drill their holes and galleries. So, covering the rake boards with vinyl or aluminum may work but you will need to cover the boards’ bottom edges as well.

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