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Carpenter bees starting to burrow into decks, fences as weather warms

Experts said that people can spray an insecticidal dust into the holes they burrow and plug them to keep carpenter bees from returning.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The weather is warming up, and all sorts of critters are emerging to enjoy it. Among the bugs is a familiar face for many deck owners — carpenter bees.

These small, fuzzy and black bees are generally harmless to people but can tear holes through wood. Instead of building hives like other kinds of bees, they burrow holes into most kinds of wood. Many people think they are a nuisance and will take steps to keep them away.

Experts said that people can spray insecticidal dust into the holes they dig and plug them up to keep the bees from coming back.

"The reason we use dust is if you something like Hot Shot then the wood sucks that up, and it never gets to the bees," said Neal Denton, who works with the University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension office. "But the dust will stay in there and the bee going in and out of the hole will catch that."

Neal also said that people can treat carpenter bee holes one-at-a-time or simply call a professional to do them all at once.

He also said the best way to avoid having to deal with carpenter bees is to simply build a deck or fence with material other than wood.

Carpenter bees are known to exist on every continent except Antarctica, and people can tell them apart from bumblebees by their larger size and glimmering backsides. There are five species of carpenter bees in the U.S.

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