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Pest Information

Valley Carpenter Bee

Valley Carpenter Bee

  • Latin Name: Xylocopa varipuncta
  • Common Name: Valley Carpenter Bee
  • Other Names: N/A

Pest Details

Valley Carpenter Bee
Valley Carpenter Bee
Valley Carpenter Bee

Origin:

These are native insects in North America and this species is found from Texas to California and south into Mexico

Biology:

Carpenter bees are solitary bees that get their common name from their habit of boring chambers in solid wood in order to create living quarters for their larvae. Softer woods such as redwood may be preferred, and the wood is not eaten, but instead is reduced to sawdust (“frass”) which is ejected from the tunnels. The female bee does the excavating, and several females may be working in the same section of wood and using the same entrance hole, but creating separate galleries. Males and females over-winter in old galleries and emerge in the spring to mate. They will both die before the end of the summer and it is their offspring which begin the next year’s activity. The galleries may be used repeatedly, with each new female lengthening the tunnel, which often can be over 10 feet in length. She creates an average of 6 or 7 cells, each separated by a plug, and places an egg and a food supply of pollen and nectar in each cell. Once this is completed she never returns to care for the larvae.

Identification:

This is the largest species of carpenter bee in California and adults may be 1 inch long. The female is a deep shiny black over the entire body, both thorax and abdomen, separating it from some other species that have yellow hairs on the thorax. The male is odd in that it is an overall golden yellow-brown color with vague darker bands on the abdomen. They may be separated from bumblebees by the relative lack of hairs on the abdomen, as well as by their more rapid, erratic flight habits. Damage from these bees is hidden within the wood, often with only the round entrance hole visible. Within the wood the galleries extend with the grain of the wood, and are almost perfectly round, ending with the cells in which the larvae develop.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Surface coatings of paint or varnish are somewhat repellent, but not always. Injection of a residual dust insecticide into the gallery opening, followed by placement of a plug in the opening, will confine the bees to this treated area if done at night. Holes can then be permanently sealed. Where the bees are creating galleries over large areas of exterior surfaces, such as siding, some protection may be provided by spot treating the most susceptible areas with a microencapsulated insecticide. In general, though, these are important pollinators and if they are not attempting to nest within important wood members they should not be harmed.

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