Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Carpenter Bees, Leaf-footed Bug, Mydas Fly & Black Flies

71_fig_1_carpenterjpgAn adult carpenter bee. Photo: Ansel Ooman,


A trap for carpenter bees. Photo: Dr. Michael Potter, University of Kentucky.

Carpenter Bees

Tesa is dealing with pests attacking wood, and they are not termites, “I'm having a huge problem with carpenter bees I tried [several insecticides] for them, and they keep coming back. My house is covered with cedar siding and built with cedar, and I cannot get the carpenter bees (CBs) under control. Do you have any suggestions?”

A search of the AgCenter’s website provides a publication on carpenter bees, “Bug Biz: Pest Management and Insect Identification Series - Carpenter Bee”. This publication is a free, downloadable document for anyone’s personal referral library. The last paragraph of this publication provides control practices for the homeowner, “Where infestations exist, applying an appropriate insecticide with the addition of liquid soap into the gallery will stop the adults and control the emerging young when they develop. To allow the adult bees to contact the control material, do not seal the holes immediately after treating. A preventive treatment may be made using a borate formulation (Tim-bor or Bora-Care) on existing structures and using borate pressure-treated wood when building or replacing damaged wood. This treatment develops borate crystals in the wood tissue and damages the bee mandibles when they bore into the wood, causing them to look elsewhere.”

A possible organic measure for addressing CBs would be using a CB trap. A search of ‘carpenter bee trap’ would yield many results including kits sold from stores and plans for the do-it-yourself folks.

According Dr. Michael Potter, Extension Entomologist of the University of Kentucky, “Carpenter bees searching for nesting sites enter the holes in the wooden box, fall into the plastic bottle, and are not able to find their way out, eventually dying. Accumulations of dead bees are disposed of by unscrewing and rinsing out the bottle.


An adult leaf-footed bug. Photo: Ethel Smith, Master Gardener.

Leaf-footed Bug

Ethel in Jena sent her message about the pest in her vegetable garden, “I can’t find the picture you posted about beneficial vs bad insects for tomato plants. This is what I’m seeing in mine.”

A recent edition of RSFF had an image of a cluster of juvenile form of the leaf-footed bug (LFB). Ethel’s picture shows a solitary adult form of the LFB. The AgCenter website provides these control measures:

  • Easy to catch because of their slow metabolism.
  • Once caught, destroy them.
  • Be advised, these are members of the stink bug family. If held too long or crushed, they emit a foul odor.
  • Insecticides for garden tomatoes include: Sevin™, Bifen™, Permethrin concentrate. As always, read the label for safe and effective use of any pesticide.


A mydas fly mimicking a wasp. Photo: Rod Middleton.

Mydas Fly

Rod sent a concerned email about a potential stinging insect, “Please advise if you have any idea of what this might be? It was found in my yard in Longville.”

AHA suspects this insect mimics a stinging insect. According to an insect specialist with the AgCenter, Rod found a “mydas fly”, and it mimics a wasp. A writer with Iowa State University made this note, “They are typically wasp mimics...but they don't have stingers, so cannot sting. Nor do they ‘bite’. Though they can look scary, they are basically harmless to humans.” Sometimes, people confuse the mydas fly with the horsefly which does bite and extracts a bloodmeal. This insect is considered “beneficial” because the immature larval forms are insect predators.


Black fly or buffalo gnat. Photo: Mississippi State Extension.

Black Flies

Lesley of DeRidder wrote about some nuisance flies, “What is a sure control for flies? The flies are numerous. Everything tried has not taken care of the problem. Consideration: small children and pets in area.”

Over a year ago, Jessie Hoover, an extension agent in the Florida Parishes, discussed this topic in an article and shared some possible solutions, “There aren’t many repellents that are successful in repelling buffalo gnats. Products with DEET do not seem to work well against them. Some people say Skin So Soft, Victoria’s Secret Amber Romance, and products containing vanilla are successful. There is no research on these products, but I guess it cannot hurt to try them. Staying inside during the day may be the only way to avoid them.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to protect your livestock and pets. Products containing the active ingredient permethrin are shown to be effective against gnats. You should be able to find livestock sprays with permethrin at your local co-op. Permethrin is also effective against horse flies and other livestock insect pests. However, you should not use permethrin on cats. It can be toxic to them.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

7/6/2020 9:02:42 PM
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