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Archive for the ‘bees’ Category

Wood Damage Resulting From Carpenter Bee Infestations Is Often Far More Extensive Than It Appears

Everyone worries about their home being infested by termites, and the kind of extensive and often expensive damage they can cause to the structural wood of a home. Carpenter bees, however, don’t generally cross people’s minds when they consider insect infestations that can cause serious damage to their home. A recent nationwide survey of pest management professionals revealed that carpenter bees were actually the third most commonly controlled wood-damaging insect pests on residential properties during the 2016 year. With the exception of eastern subterranean termites, carpenter bees were controlled more frequently than all termite pest species within and around US homes during 2016. In fact, an infestation of carpenter bees can frequently lead to much more costly and extensive damage of a home’s wood components than people realize, particularly if it goes unnoticed for a long period of time and is infested by multiple generations that have gone unnoticed by homeowners. Since they build their nests within wood, this can happen easily since it helps hide them, and without a visible hive for people to connect to any bees they might see around their home, they are prone to ignoring their presence and think nothing of it.

Carpenter bees look like your generic picture of a large black and yellow bee, although they have a hairless abdomen. People mostly see them during the spring months, and they tend to hover around wooden decks, under the eaves of houses, near porch rails, and deck furniture. They do not consume wood, only excavating tunnels to be used as nesting sites. They do this with their incredibly strong teeth, leaving behind a ½ inch round hole and a bit of sawdust as evidence. Exposed wood such as that making up wooden decks are their main targets. While one specific nesting tunnel may not cause too much damage to the wood, with larval galleries generally being 6 to 7 inches long, but can be as long as a foot. When more than one bee uses the initial entrance hole, branching off of the main tunnel to excavate their individual larval gallery. If this continues for years unnoticed, those tunnels can grow pretty extensive, extending several feet into the wood and decimating the inside of what may appear to be healthy, whole wood. When those new larvae develop into adults and emerge in late summer, they will often begin cleaning out their tunnel to use as an overwintering site.

Have you ever found structural wood from your home that had been infested and damaged by carpenter bees?


Are People With Venom Allergies The Only Victims Of Fatal Bee, Wasp And Ant Stings?

While there exists plenty of arthropod species that can inflict painful bites or stings to humans, very few arthropod species are considered medically significant. Almost all medical professionals agree that black widows and recluse spiders are the only spiders in the US that are medically significant, but most people who have sustained a bite from one of these spiders recovered without professional medical intervention. However, a little more than 100 people die from arthropod-related injuries every year in the US, and most of these fatalities result from honey bee and yellow jacket envenomations. But is venom really the culprit in these fatalities? After all, the exact cause of death in the vast majority of fatal wasp and bee envenomation incidents is anaphylactic shock, which is not technically death by venom toxicity.

Anaphylactic shock is an extreme allergic response to a foreign material, and this condition is fatal unless proper medical treatment is administered in time. Those with an allergy to Hymenoptera venom (bees, wasps and ants) are at high risk of experiencing anaphylaxis following one or a few stings. It is often assumed that most people are not allergic to arthropod venom, and therefore, most people are not at risk of anaphylaxis following bee or wasp stings, but this is not exactly the case. While some people are born with a sensitivity to certain arthropod venoms, those who are not can develop a sensitivity to venom in response to repeated stings, but others may become less sensitive with each sting sustained. It is not known why repeated stings cause some people to develop an allergy to venom while others become more tolerant of it, but those who have experienced a progressive worsening of envenomation symptoms with each successive Hymenoptera sting should visit an allergy specialist or immunologist for proper testing.

People who do not have a venom allergy can die in response to numerous stings inflicted by swarming wasps and bees. Wasp swarms are particularly dangerous, as each individual wasp inflicts stings repeatedly. Some experts believe that the rate of annual arthropod-related fatalities in the US may be higher than reported. For example, a small number of deaths that have officially been attributed to heat stroke or heart attacks may have been caused by arthropod envenomations, and some fatal car accidents may occur in response to drivers sustaining arthropod stings.

Have you ever sustained a painful spider bite?



How To Recognize The Damage That Carpenter Bees Inflict To A Home’s Structural And Cosmetic Wood Components

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?

Do Africanized Honey Bees AKA “Killer Bees” Exist Within Louisiana

Many people are familiar with Africanized honey bees, but just about everyone has heard the term “killer bees” numerous times. The Africanized honey bee is an extremely aggressive non-native honey bee in North America, and due to their aggressive swarming behavior around humans, which sometimes results in fatalities, the species has become known as the “killer bee”. Africanized honey bees (AHB) are native to Africa, but a scientist brought the species to a laboratory in Brazil in order to breed the species with other species in an effort to increase honey yields. Shortly after beginning his interbreeding program, the AHB escaped and slowly migrated north, eventually arriving in Texas in 1990. Shortly thereafter, the AHB began to interbreed with common European honey bees in New Mexico and Arizona. By 2001, AHB arrived in Louisiana for the first time at Caddo Parish. In 2005, officials with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry determined that Caddo, Calcasieu and Cameron parish had become infested with the aggressive non-native bees. By 2007, the AHB arrived in New Orleans, and today, officials are attempting to reduce their populations with traps located in various areas of the state.

Africanized honey bees are not as resilient to cold weather and bouts of rainfall as their European counterparts, which helps keep the bees under control in rainy Louisiana. This also explains why AHB pose the greatest public health risk in Arizona compared to all other states where the bees have established hives. The dry Sonoran desert is an ideal habitat for AHB, making attacks in Louisiana more rare.

It is not easy to tell the difference between common European honey bees and AHB, as both species appear nearly identical, only European honey bees are slightly larger in body size than AHB. Behavioral differences between the two species are more pronounced, although both species become aggressive when their hives are approached or disturbed by humans. Of course, AHB are far more aggressive than European honey bees, and AHB are known for pursuing humans over greater distances than European honey bees. While both species are often found nesting within homes, particularly within wall voids, it is exceptionally rare for and AHB colony to establish a nest within a Louisiana home.

Have you ever been pursued by an angry honey bee swarm?

Hurricane Katrina Brought Killer Bees to Louisiana

As if having to live through one of the most devastating hurricanes we’ve seen hit the United States wasn’t bad enough, the residents of Louisiana also had to deal with some uninvited guests that hitched a ride on the storm. We are still dealing with the massive damage that this city-destroyer caused, but what many people don’t know is that it didn’t just destroy the land and homes that it hit, but that Hurricane Katrina also brought insects pests with her to invade Louisiana in the aftermath. This wasn’t just some extra mosquitos either. One insect that is universally feared and terrifies any and all that it comes in contact with is the killer bee, also known as the Africanized honey bee. This was the gift this particular storm brought along with her. I think this is one present the residents of this state would rather return.

It was as they were recovering from the hurricane that residents of the flood-damaged New Orleans discovered they had yet another problem they were going to have to deal with. As people were going around and fixing all of the damage the hurricane caused, they began to find swarms of killer bees inhabiting the vacant buildings and other areas. One storm-wrecked home that was confirmed to be infested with killer bees was surrounded by traps set by agriculturalists in a half-mile radius. Initially, the bees drove away the contractors that had been hired to tear the house down, but then they also scared off the beekeepers that were called in to take care of them. In the end, only the brave mosquito workers were able to kill the bees, which were then confirmed by the state agricultural department to be hybrids that did, indeed, carry the strain of the aggressive Africanized honey bees. Officials believed that the bees they found were likely descendants of killer bees that had stolen a ride on a ship that came to New Orleans.

Africanized honey bees are the unwanted lovechild that resulted from an experiment in Brazil to increase their production of honey. One swarm of these much more aggressive, hybrid bees managed to escape the lab the experiment was taking place in in 1957 and, of course, headed north in our direction. Unfortunately, as these bees mated with other native bees, the increased aggression from the African parent’s strain did not decrease, and the offspring born with this strain (even ones far removed from the original hybrids) are just as aggressive as the originals. And so, many more descendants, all born with this increased aggression, have proliferated and spread to inspire terror in all who come in contact with them. Talk about a science experiment gone south…or, rather, north!

Have you ever seen Africanized honey bees? How much do you think natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina contribute to their spread?

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