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Carpenter Bees come in all colors of the rainbow. California carpenter bees (found in the mountains of California/Oregon) are mostly metallic green/blue with grayish wings. Female valley carpenter bees (valleys, lower foothills of California, Arizona) are trendy ladies – shiny black with bright metallic purple/bronze shine and smoky wings; males are a sultry golden brown or buff. Mountain carpenter bees (foothills/mountains of California/Arizona/Nevada/Oregon) are black, and the male's head has yellow, white and black hairs.
Worldwide, with 7 species in the U.S.
Carpenter bees are genuine tree huggers. That's because they live in them. No need to labor building a nest. Simply bore a hole into weathered wood, and you've got the perfect place to raise your young. Valley carpenter bees prefer partly deceased oak, eucalyptus and other hardwoods. California carpenter bees favor more aromatic dwellings, including incense cedars and redwood trees. Mountain carpenter bees have been known to nest in structures. Unlike other bees, they are loners, and do not form colonies.
Although they live in trees, they don't eat them. Like other bees, their staples are pollen and nectar.
Mating takes place in spring after overwintering in old tunnels. The female then finds a suitable tree and bores a hole straight into the wood, then follows the grain of the wood to make a gallery to lay eggs. She may reuse a gallery from a previous year, or make an addition to an old gallery. At the closed end, she lays an egg onto a mass of pollen and partly digested nectar, then seals it with chewed wood pulp. Development from egg to adult takes 1-3 months.
Don't let their size scare you. Females can sting, but fortunately do not sting often. Males are aggressive towards humans and may hover or buzz around one's head, but they do not have stingers. They are not a threat to structures.
They bore into tree wood, but not usually into painted wood.
You must apply control products directly into the burrows to achieve control. Treat each gallery with an appropriate, registered material (usually an aerosol). After treatment, monitor for further activity. There is no preventative treatment for this insect and new infestations will need to be addressed as necessary. If you attempt to control these insects and make an application, be sure it is registered for the target pest/location. Read the entire label prior to use. Follow all label directions, restrictions and precautions.
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