If the redbuds, dogwoods, and azaleas weren't enough to announce Spring's arrival, these little winged spawn of Hell would be:
Yes, it's carpenter bee season!
Carpenter bees are destructive pests that resemble fat, shiny bumblebees. The males can't sting, and the females rarely do. But, the females do chew perfectly round holes (without actually eating the wood) into and through wood in order to nest. For the past few years, I have waged my annual battle to prevent them from boring tunnels as big around as my thumb into the fascia boards around the roof of The Cottage. Or, at least some of the fascia boards. Carpenter bees seem to prefer some boards over others, and they also seem to like a southern exposure. Some of the boards they haven't touched at all. Not even an entomologist or exterminator can explain why. People will tell you that carpenter bees don't like painted wood. Don't believe it. They like it just fine.
The holes pictured are actually doorways leading to very long tunnels that extend far into the inside of the board. These bees are pure evil.
I have tried various non-toxic as well as toxic methods of eradicating them. I stapled strips of wire mesh window screening over the entire length of another of their favorite boards by the workshop door. That worked well, but it looks a bit unsightly in the more visible areas under the eaves.
I have also spent hours sitting out on the porch armed with a spray bottle of pesticide, with the nozzle set on the high-power, long-distance death setting, and picked them off one by one. Although very satisfying, that just took up a lot of my time, and didn't seem to make a big dent in their population.
Now, normally, I wouldn't kill a bee, since they are pollinators, they make honey, blah, blah, blah.
I make a very big and unapologetic exception in the case of carpenter bees, to which I say: Die, Carpenter Bees, DIE!!
My latest weapon of apian destruction is Delta Dust, a dry powder insecticide that is applied directly into their bore holes using a bellows sprayer. Puff, puff...die, die. Very simple, very effective.
Since it is early Spring, and I planted some new roses last year, I have been anxiously awaiting any signs of blooming from my newest rose, Madame Alfred Carriere. I planted Madame Alfred Carriere last Spring, out by the back deck, so that she could climb up on the pergola, if I ever finish building the pergola.
Madame Alfred Carriere is also a noisette rose, and a climber with buds that open palest pink after which the flowers fade to purest white. They are known for being repeat bloomers, and for being very fragrant.
My Madame grew exactly one tiny bud this Spring, and I watched the single bud grow in size until it just started to open. Then, I somehow missed it at its peak! But, I did get a couple of photos while the first flower was still in bloom on a very cool and windy day:
Since these photos were taken, I pruned the plant back a bit, and now there are several new buds coming out, along with a new flush of growth!
camera fail and friends visiting
2 days ago