April 24, 2017

This Is Not a Paper Bag

It may look like a paper bag, but it's not.
It's a pseudo-hornets' nest.

There is an idea floating around the internet for a deterrent for carpenter bees and wasps. Take a small brown paper bag, fill it with plastic bags or newspaper, and hang it in the area where carpenter bees or wasps are a problem. We have a terrible carpenter bee problem and have tried various recommended deterrents, so far without success. Since some people say the paper bag works for them, I decided to give it a try.

Tell-tale sign of carpenter bee sawdust ...

... all over Sam's kitty bed (and all over Sam).

After Dan hung it up the carpenter bees showed up as usual and it did indeed stop them in their tracks. A number of them spent the rest of the day hovering a safe distance from the bag, watching it. They would zoom away and back again, always to halt short of that bag and stare at it.


We were cautiously optimistic that perhaps we had found a solution to the problem. The only reservation in declaring it a success was in not knowing how smart carpenter bees actually are.

The one on the right is bored between two (sistered) porch roof rafters

By about the third day they figured out that no hornets were forthcoming, so they proceeded to ignore it and resume their annoying burrowing in our porch roof rafters. Wasps, ditto. We removed two wasp nests in the same time period, but maybe the wasps weren't smart enough to notice.

Here's one in one of the front porch posts. I filled it with
silicone window caulking, but they cleaned it out again.

If paper bag method has worked for you, then I'm not going to brag that our carpenter bees are smarter than yours, I'm just going to wish it worked for us too.

This one is in the goat barn. From it and the photo
above, you can see that they are not respecters of paint.

I also read that they don't like citrus and found some directions for a DIY citrus spray. Next time I go shopping I'll get some oranges or grapefruit and make some. I'll let you know how it works.

This Is Not a Paper Bag © April 2017

52 comments:

Judy said...

I was told they didn't like painted surfaces, but evidently not.

Michelle said...

Wow, those look like nasty, damaging bugs!

Leigh said...

They seem to have a preference for unpainted wood, but I have to say that paint is no guarantee. :(

Leigh said...

Very damaging and since they are giant bees, a little scary looking. They don't sting, which is good, but the males will dive bomb you as a deterrent to humans!

Chris said...

I guess I'm fortunate our house is made of brick! Although the mud wasps, seem to like to build their mud nests on the walls.

Do you think you could deter them with a wasp hotel? Not sure if it works with bees. It might just be a wasp thing. Google, wasp hotel, and you'll see what they look like. It they have a ready made hotel, with tiny holes in the wood, they might not try burrowing into yours.

Caroline J. Baines said...

What a pain, Leigh!

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Ugh! Sorry the brown bag didn't work. Hoping the citrus spray does. Nancy

Quinn said...

I tried the paper bag for wasps but saw no effect. Goats were intrigued, of course. Then I started mixing a bit of peppermint essential oil with water in a spray bottle and spraying the wood around every barn door and under the roof edges. I haven't had nests on the barn and I think it even deters other flying insects if I keep doing it - and at least in smells nice. Cedar oil may be next.
Ground hornets and wasps that get a big nest built before I see it along the roof edges on sheds and the barns is the one thing I have used commercial spray for at times. I don't mess around when it comes to ground hornets AT ALL. As soon as I see them flying into a hole in the ground, I made a note and spray that very night.

Rain said...

What an awful problem. We have wasp issues here, they somehow get into the rafters and sometimes into the house. The first year we told the landlord, he came and plugged some holes in the outside wood and last summer seemed to keep them at bay. I also tried the paper bag idea and it didn't phase them! I guess Laurentian wasps are just as...conniving (I don't want to say they're smart lol)...

I DO hope it works for you, but I also tried a citrus spray and left a jar of orange slices out...nothin' doin'.

I'm not a big fan of any chemicals, but any insect that can do that much damage and also sting me or the pets...well, I'd go for a pesticide at that point. I'm just waiting to see what happens this summer. Charlie swallowed one last year and she was yelping for half an hour...we need some kind of prevention!

Susan Humeston said...

I am not a homesteader, but I did a search to find treatments for wasps and carpenter bees and found this site. They mention WD40 and plugging holes, etc.

http://www.loghomecare.com/carpenter_bees.html

Leigh said...

Well, they love to dig rather than take over something else, so I'm not sure if they'd go for it. Maybe for a few(?)as long as the holes were exactly the right size. It's amazing how perfect their holes are.

Leigh said...

Agreed!

Leigh said...

Me too!

Leigh said...

I hadn't thought about cedar oil (we have some of that). I did a lot of research and reading on this, but didn't come across anyone mentioning essential oils. Peppermint and spearmint deter honeybee pests, maybe others as well?

Susan Humeston said...

Also, I read where somehow you can use boric acid to kill them. Boric acid is a poison that is used in Florida to kill roaches. My mother used to make an eye soak for me out of very hot water and boric acid when I had styes - I had to dip a rag and soak my eye in the hot water/boric acid mixture until the water cooled. Over a few days this would make the stye go away. There are many web sites that talk about getting rid of carpenter bees, but they always talk about insecticides and/or boric acid blown up into the little holes. You have to do this at night so as not to get stung, and you have to use a flashlight with red cellophane over the light because bees can't see that, but it will allow you to see the holes. You also have to wear lots of protective gear for your eyes, nose and mouth so you don't breath in the poison. I can see why you don't want to use insecticides. I wonder if some kind of sticky pine sap - globs of it - put in their holes would kill them when they get covered with it?

Leigh said...

I can't disagree with either you or Quinn about sometimes having to use a pesticide, especially for stinging varmints like wasps and hornets. We've done that as well.

One thing that makes carpenter bees more challenging is that they don't make nests. Each bee makes an individual hole, but never clustered. And getting rid of one batch seems to open the barn door for a new and different batch to come fill the void!

Susan Humeston said...

Here is another idea:
http://www.thriftyfun.com/Getting-Rid-of-Carpenter-Bees-1.html

Susan Humeston said...

OK - this is my last comment. I promise. Here is a homemade mixture that is supposed to work using citronella and essential oils. Why not throw peppermint in just for kicks?

"Make your own repellent Carpenter bees really don’t like citronella and several oils. You can make natural, working carpenter bee repellent at home and carpenter bees will surely leave you alone. Mix a little of lavender oil, citronella oil, jojoba and tea tree oils. Pour this mixture into a sprinkler and spray those areas of the house or garden where you need to exterminate carpenter bees."
Read more: http://pestkill.org/insect/carpenter-bees/how-to-killing/

Leigh said...

Susan, thank you for the link and boric acid suggestion. We have a couple gallons of boric acid for treating Dan's posts and beams (it deters termites as well.) Maybe I could just "paint" it on the wood and see what happens.

One thing about carpenter bees is that they don't sting! The males will ram you to scare you off, but they don't sting.

I haven't had a chance to completely read the log home article, just scan it. It may have some useful information, but some of it I've already tried to no avail. That's not necessarily a criticism, but it points to a problem about all the advice out there and that there doesn't seem to be a consensus on what actually "works." Maybe what works in one location doesn't work in another!

Ed said...

I have tried just about everything for wasps and haven't found anything that works. I have settled with just living in harmony with them and scraping off the old nests every winter. I also keep a flyswatter handy for the occasional one that makes it indoors.

Leigh said...

I found that site in my research too. I just figured it is probably better suited to a small problem area rather than our front and back porches plus outbuildings. The thing about treating individual holes, is that they simply make another one somewhere near it!

Leigh said...

Susan, you can make as many comments as you'd like!

I wonder if citronella is a citrus(? I'm assuming it is!) then it would work similarly to the orange oil. And I'm wondering if I can add some EOs to a boric acid solution! Why not?

Interesting that the same webpage states that, "Log cabins and structures with natural wood siding give the odor which attracts carpenter bees every season." Makes me wonder about the cedar oil mentioned above.

Leigh said...

Sometimes it just comes to that. I'd feel the same way about the carpenter bees if they weren't making swiss cheese out of our buildings!

Linda said...

Maybe you could use an electric flyswatter from Lowe's. The one from Harbor Freight does not work well. Or, maybe they hate Irish Spring as much as rats do. Maybe it could be grated in water to put in a sprayer. There is an additive for paint that is an insecticide. You don't have to be a homesteader to have carpenter bees! The way I finally got rid of them was to stand with a water hose set to strong stream and blast the holes many times each day! Eventually, they decided to leave and I have seen none for years. They don't mind the fact wood is painted. Good luck!

Saundra said...

These bees are great pollinators. They sure can be destructive. I have a 6x12x18 inch piece of wood with holes drilled the size of their holes
so they can nest in it. It's propped against a block wall in my backyard & it works. However, they have put lots of holes in the neighbor's cedar fence. Sandy in Calif.

Mrs Shoes said...

Pinterest hints are pretty hit & miss - sometimes they're fantastic & sometimes a total fail. I keep trying though.

Chris said...

Citronella comes from a plant in the geranium family (Pelargonium citronellum) I have it and plant them around my chicken coops, to help deter pests. There are claims it doesn't work, as a "plant", but you can turn it into an oil which makes it more potent.

Chris said...

It's pretty cool how nature works. I have found the best approach seems to be, luring pests to someplace better.

I have used spray on paper wasp nests though (they sting) if they set up around our house. I leave them, if they set up a nest in nearby bushes. As it's healthy to make compromises. They feed the local bird population anyway, who also feast on pests in my fruit and vegetables.

If you're going to use pesticides, I recommend doing it at night. Not only will it ensure the inhabitants are home, but it will mean the local bird population won't snap it up.

Leigh said...

I just read about the paint additive, probably in one of the links in the comments, but I can't remember which one! Really, the whole area needs to be treated, not just the individual holes or they'll simply move to another spot! Glad to hear you got rid of yours. Maybe there's hope for me too!

Leigh said...

An alternate burrowing place might be worth a try. Unfortunately they just love our old wood and home-milled lumber!

Leigh said...

Pintrest has the lure of too many rabbit trails, LOL. Great ideas though

1st Man said...

Well the bag idea is indeed interesting. We don't have any carpenter bees damaging the house (that we've noticed of course) but we do have wasps building nests all the time. And that is one place I'm ok with poison, ha. Just got stung by one last weekend, hurt for two days. The only good wasp is a dead one ha. So I might try this at least for the wasps. Maybe they are dumber than carpenter bees, ha!!!!

Michelle said...

We used to whack them out of the air with boat paddles, and then stomp their unconscious bodies when I was growing up.

Florida Farm Girl said...

Dear girl, if you figure out a way to deter carpenter bees patent that process and let me know immediately what it is! We're being over run with them this year on our all wood stained house.

Leigh said...

I hope they are! Carpenter bees are destructive but they don't sting, so in that sense they are "better" to have around than wasps or hornets.

Leigh said...

Dan does that too. He has a carpenter bee "bat" right by the back door, and one at the goat shed as well. Good job for kids!

Leigh said...

Oh no! The log cabin website listed above mentions that they tend to ignore glossy surfaces, although based on my own observations I won't assume it's correct. Today it isn't raining so I plan to mix up some borax solution and do some spraying. We'll see!

Leigh said...

I seem to recall that I researched that plant to grow awhile back. I may have to re-investigate. Thanks for the tip!

Debbie - Mountain Mama said...

Interesting idea, too bad it didn't work for long! I used to have carpenter bees at a previous home, they are scary! Good luck!

Sam I Am...... said...

I'm so sorry it didn't work. I heard for wasps also to paint your eaves blue. I haven't done it but I have Terminix so they have stayed away. There are so many bugs in the South that I couldn't keep up with them along with black widows right by my front door and there must have been a nest! Voles, mice, armadillos, ticks...roaches, I could go on and on! LOL! I need to live where there are good, hard feezes!

Farmer Barb said...

Eucalyptus oil mixed into an emulsion an sprayed on wood outside. I am using it to keep the wasps from peeling our outdoor furniture. As far as I am concerned, the stronger the better. It just makes everything smell like Vapo-rub.

Leigh said...

Thanks! I'm trying some different sprays to experiment. It would be nice to save the house before they Swiss cheese it to death. :)

Leigh said...

We have black widow spiders too! They love wood mulch and fire wood. We don't don anything around here without leather gloves on.

Leigh said...

The wasps peel your furniture? How strange. I've had several suggestions for various oils. I'll have to experiment with them and see what works (and what doesn't.)

Susan Humeston said...

You'll probably put all these essential oils together and invent the Essential Oil bug nuke.....lol

Sandy said...

Leigh,

I'm waiting to see what you figure out as a fix for the bee issue. If you find something, I'm going to save it for future use. Recently, I've notice an issue with field mice attempting to get up on the back porch. I've sprayed straight up peppermint oil on the threshold of the patio and the threshold of all my doors as a preventative, and it works. No mice on the back patio or attempting to get into the doors. Now to tackle the front porch. Living out in the country has other issues with bugs and little pests.

I have to go back out and re spray the thresholds again because of all the rain we've had.

Sarah said...

nasty little buggers! Carpenter bees have been working on our back fence. Looking forward to seeing if you find a solution. Good luck!

Leigh said...

Well, I'm doing some experimenting! Starting simple and then adding as I go. We'll see!

Leigh said...

Sandy, glad to hear the peppermint oil worked! You are so right about critters and country living. We find it takes four cats to keep our mouse population under control (but adding critters and feed is always a huge attractant to mice and rats.)

Leigh said...

Thanks! It looks like I'll need it. :)

Deb said...

Google carpenter bee trap. The one we made is a 4x4 piece of wood with a mason jar below it. The wood has holes drilled in it and the bees end up in the jar not knowing how to get out. It's working for us so we just made 2 more.

Leigh said...

I should have started with "carpenter bee trap" rather than "carpenter bee deterrent." That's excellent! Thank you!