Every spring and throughout the summer months, different species of bees will emerge from lawns and turf. These bees have been in the ground all winter developing in the third stage of being an insect called the pupa. As the soil warms, pupa hatch. And with the hatching of pupae come adult bees.
One of the most common is the Andrena digger bee.
These bees come in all sizes and colors. Some are black, blue, brown, white and orange, yellow, and probably mixes of any listed above. Digger bees tend to look more like common bumble bees, but can look like a yellow jacket, a honey bee or certain types of flies. Most all of these species have common behavior which make them easy to control and understand.
DIGGER BEE FACTS *
1) Nearly all are solitary. Although it appears you have thousands of “nests” in the yard, in fact they are all independent nests owned by different bees.
2) Most like to fly around their “airspace” at different times of the day or season. This may have something to do with mating, air temperature or simply staking territory.
3) Most are not too aggressive, but stay clear of them. One never knows if they may be allergic to a certain sting or venom. Don’t let children or pets play around nest sites.
4) The first year these pests start to nest in a yard, they usually go unnoticed. It is easy to miss a few holes. Every year this will grow exponentially. Within 3-5 years, expect to have several thousand!
5) Although nests may be under pine straw or wood chips, most species prefer to dig on bare ground between grass and plants. Holes are easy to mistake for worm castings.
6) Most are predatory feeders foraging for grubs, small flying insects and ground dwelling pests. It is not uncommon for nest sites to be established in a yard which has little food supply. Because they can fly, food can be found in adjoining property. Nest locations may only be taking advantage of the free place to live without offering any help in controlling your pests! Once food is found, it is stung to death, brought back to the nest and buried. Eggs will be laid on it, in it or close to it so that hatching larva will have a ready food supply.
7) Some are pollen or other organic food feeders; not all are predatory.
8) Most nest sites tend to be where sunlight, moisture and soil density meet some requirement they like. Once a nest site is started, expect it to expand each year and become larger and larger. Although nests are abandoned each year, they are not reused. New nests will be made adjacent to old nests and most old nests fill in over the winter.
9) Expect populations to vary from year to year, based on things such as the severity of the past winter, local insect levels, rain patterns, humidity and temperature.
10) Most live a full year, emerging from pupa stages in the spring, building nests, laying eggs and then dying in the fall. Their offspring will emerge next year to continue the cycle.
PROBLEMS WITH DIGGER BEES *
1) Most people fear their presence. Although they usually will leave you alone if you don’t bother them, nests pose a hazard when built in play areas of the yard.
2) Infestations will start small and rapidly grow. If you have a nest or two, expect to have several more in the next year. This will quickly grow out of control if left alone to develop.
3) Nest sights will become unsightly. It is not uncommon for thousands of holes to be created within a few thousand square feet.
4) Large nest sites are scary when the species nesting goes into their hovering activity. During these times, you will expect to have thousands of them flying low to the ground, around 1-3 feet high, simply flying in circles. Be sure to keep children and pets away during this activity.
5) In every case, small infestations will eventually get too large and move into areas of the yard where you don’t want them. Be sure to prevent this by taking care of initial infestations before they grow.
HOW TO CONTROL A FEW DIGGER BEE NESTS *
If all you have is a few holes – less than 30 – and you want to get control of the problem before it gets control of you and your yard, get some DELTAMETHRIN DUST. This product works fast, lasts long and will kill off all which are active at the time of treatment. Just 2-3 “puffs” of dust down every hole you can find will take care of the nest immediately.
Use a good HAND DUSTER to apply the dust. And treat at night, close to dark, when the bees will be inside their nests.
Deltamethrin dust will work even if it gets wet. And though it will hold up well to water and moisture, plugging it will insure it lasts that much longer just in case it rains or if you have an irrigation system. Digger bee holes are generally small and easy to “cover up” which should be done within one day of treating.
Since most nests have eggs and pupa which are still developing, having the dust in the nest for extended periods of time insures there is something around to knock out young that will hatch throughout the season. And by capping off the top entry hole after the hole is treated will help the dust to last longer.
Once treated, most nests will die off and show no activity within one day. However, it is common to have new holes “pop” up from nowhere within a week which will need immediate attention. Furthermore, if the nests treated have a lot of eggs and pupa developing, you will assuredly get some new nests at some point in the future so be prepared to treat in the coming weeks.
HOW TO TREAT ENTIRE YARD FOR DIGGER BEES *
If you have 30 or more nests active in turf and mulch areas, dusting may be bit time consuming. There are two other products to consider which can help. Just understand that these options won’t work with just one application. In fact it will take several treatments to break the cycle since pupae will be hatching daily. So for 1-2 weeks, you may have to spray every other day if they keep repopulating. This is normal and expected – especially with lawns which have had a history of problems.
So if you have a had a problem in the past, you should first apply some COMPLETE LAWN GRANULES. These granules are slow releasing, will filter down into nests and onto the paths they travel and will last a long time. This residual action is needed so that emerging young and hatching pupa can be controlled once they are active. Apply them with a GRANULE SPREADER to insure a good even distribution. Apply 2 lbs for every 1,000 sq/ft of turf and retreat once a month.
Use a good granule spreader to apply the granules. This insures even distribution.
Next, activate the granules by watering them in. You can use a water sprinkler to do the watering but the best option is to treat over the top with some CYONARA RTS.
Cyonara is easy to use and safe for use on turf where people and pets will be active. Its odorless, easy to apply and works fairly quick on digger bees. Coverage is good; you can treat up to 15,000 sq/ft of turf with one quart. Treat as needed until activity subsides. Remember, one treatment will not kill newly emerging adults so if you have a lot emerging 1-2 days after treating and you want them gone, spray again. In most cases, you should expect to spray 3-4 times a week for 1-2 weeks until the spring “explosion” of hatching adults subsides.
It’s important to understand that the water used to apply the spray will serve you by carrying the chemical as well as activating the Granules. Treatments done early in the year will help stave off the spring hatching so if you have a history of problems, get the yard treated in April-June.
Once they’re active, treat monthly with granules and monthly with the liquid spray if they’re active to keep hatching pupae minimized and from attracting new bees to the area.
Digger bees will be marking infested areas as a good place to nest which will make the yard attractive to bees in the community. To keep them away, renew your treatments a month. Digger bees are repelled by the treatments and will avoid where its been applied so if you are diligent with treatments keeping them fresh in the spring and summer, you can prevent a re-infestation.
Digger bees are common problems in the yard. If left alone, their nest sights will grow to be several thousand. Their activity is unnerving to people and pets. Apply Deltamethrin Dust directly to nests if you only have a few to treat. Dusting is quick, easy and effective.
For larger infestations, a combination of Complete Lawn Granules and Cyonara will prove effective for complete control.
CONTACT US *
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