Kenny Sharpe

The beginning of spring is an active time for plants. As they produce flowers and pollen you will also see a lot of insect activity.

Carpenter bees get very active in early spring. They are busy building nests to lay eggs and that includes drilling holes in wood to deposit eggs.

Many people will refer to carpenter bees as wood boring bumble bees, but they are not bumble bees. Bumblebees will have yellow hairs on their thorax (middle) and abdomen (end) while carpenter bees have a yellow thorax and a shiny black abdomen.

Carpenter bees tend to be very territorial and will dive at you if you enter their space. They do have a stinger but will not sting you unless you slap at them.

I see lots of carpenter bees around old barns and strawberry packing sheds this time of year. They will drill a perfect 3/8 inch hole into unpainted wood structures such as wooden furniture, wood siding, fences, beams and just about anything built of wood that you can imagine. It is the drilling that gets people up in arms.

The bees are drilling holes to have a safe space to lay eggs. They will drill into a rafter or other pieces of wood and immediately turn at a 90˚ angle and continue to drill back 8 inches or more to form a gallery to lay eggs. The eggs will hatch in reverse order and emerge later to complete their life cycle.

In most cases they will not drill into freshly painted or sealed wood but there are exceptions. So the easy solution is usually a fresh coat of paint. But when sealing the wood is not what is desired or practical, you can spray with insecticides to get control.

When bees are drilling use an insecticide and spray the surfaces that are being drilled. Use insecticides with the active ingredient cypermethrin, such as Demon permetherins such as Spectracide, cyfluthrins such as Bayer Advanced or Sevin. You will get better control by adding up to 8 ounces of liquid soap per gallon of solution to help the insecticide adhere to the wood surface you are trying to protect. You can also spray into the holes and then seal them to prevent future damage by the next generation of carpenter bees. If left alone carpenter bees will reuse the same egg galleries and expand the hole.


I also received a report this week that the large black and reddish-orange grasshoppers, which you may know as devil horses, are emerging now. We see them come out of the lower areas and then make their way into lawns and yards to munch on green foliage.

They will hatch by the hundreds from eggs that are laid near water. There are times when they emerge in great numbers and form a line to cross a road.

Devil horses will turn black within 48 hours of hatching with one or more red, orange or yellow stripes down their back. They grow rapidly to a size of up to 3 to 4 inches long.

If you live near a breeding area you can have a lot of them. They are not fast but do not have a lot of predators as they are toxic to birds and animals who might want to eat them. They are not toxic to you so you can pick them off and throw them in a bucket of soapy water if their populations are not too high. If you have more than you can reasonable remove, spray plants with an insecticide that is labeled for that application, such as sevin, bifenthrin or permethrin. Some of these guys get so big you will have to spray the insecticide on them to get control.

For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at


Kenny Sharpe is county agent with the LSU Cooperative Extension Service in Livingston Parish. For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit

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