A variety of wood-infesting insect pests can be found throughout the United States, including carpenter ants, powderpost beetles, old house borers, carpenter bees, and of course, termites. Unfortunately for Louisiana residents, several wood-infesting insect pest species are well represented in the state, but some are more destructive than others. It should not come as a surprise to learn that termites are far and away the most economically costly wood-infesting pests in the country, particularly in Louisiana where eight termite species regularly inflict damage to homes. While termites are well known for both nesting within, and consuming structural wood, not all wood-infesting pests eat and digest wood. For example, carpenter ants and carpenter bees excavate galleries within structural lumber for nesting purposes only, while numerous insect species, such as bark beetles, only infest natural wood sources. Although they do not get much attention as wood-infesting pests, carpenter bees can inflict serious and costly damage to homes by tunneling through structural and cosmetic wood sources.
Seven carpenter bee species have been documented in the US, but the most destructive species is commonly known as the eastern carpenter bee, which can be found in Louisiana. Carpenter bees are sometimes referred to as “living drills” due to the female’s habit of excavating long nesting galleries within indoor structural wood and both painted and unpainted wood located on the exterior of homes, particularly siding. Rather than consuming wood, carpenter bees nest, raise their young and hibernate in finished wood sources. Some infestation cases have seen carpenter bees excavate tunnels as long as 10 feet into structural and cosmetic wood sources. In addition to the wood components that make up houses, carpenter bees have been known to damage wooden lawn furniture, garden tools, fences and dead tree branches. Homeowners usually first notice carpenter bee infestations when encountering sawdust that the bees discard while tunneling through finished wood. The holes that the bees excavate in order to nest within wood are around half an inch in diameter and all holes found on a home are identical in size. The bees plow 4 to 6 inches into wood before making right turns in order to continue excavating against the grain. Carpenter bees hibernate in structural and cosmetic wood during the winter before emerging in the spring in order to feed on nectar.
Have you ever encountered carpenter bee damage to your home?