Saturday, August 22, 2009


Oh the joys of living in an old apartment. It seems to me that certain pests are a lot easier to find in Japan than other places. Sure, you can find roaches in just about any country, developed or not, but it seems like in Japan you run a decent chance of running into them no matter what kind of place you're living in. I've had a few run-ins with them in this place.

Most recently, though, I have a new "neighbor" trying to move in. On my balcony there is a washing machine. Behind the washer is this wooden column that looks like it was once part of some kind of structure. I don't know why it's there, but I have nowhere to move it to; so there it remains. Looks like someone took a liking to it.

When I got home a few days ago, I was startled to see this bee hanging out there, doing...something with the wood. It didn't make that hole, by the way - there were already a few holes in the column. It was by its lonesome (there doesn't appear to be any hive nearby) and it didn't seem aggressive, even when I got fairly close, leading me to believe it's a carpenter bee. They don't seem that bad from online descriptions, and it didn't seem ill-tempered. Nonetheless, I would rather not risk having a nest right next to my washing machine. I feel bad trying to kill it - after all, it's not really doing anything to bother me...but I can't set the precedent of letting bugs move in on my turf. So I scared it away for a few minutes by shooting it from behind my screen door (I guess I'm a coward like that) with some water. When it was gone, I powdered the hole with my favorite insecticide - boric acid.

Unfortunatelty as I'm in America at the moment, I'm not sure if the acid worked or not. I guess I'll find out soon enough.


  1. I asked a scientist at the USDA and this was his response to what to do for carpenter bees:

    I don't think boric acid will do much. The first thing I'd do is to tell the landlord about it; I'm concerned about any structural damage that they may be doing. Ultimately he/she would probably want to paint the surface or cover it with metal flashing if replacing it with pressure treated wood.
    Carpenter bees here generally aren't much of a stinging risk. Using an insecticide is at best a temporary, stop gap measure- more are likely to attack the surface since it seems to be "prime real estate." The safest thing to do is to put on any protective gear and hit the holes with a labeled bee/ wasp killer after first checking to see if it'll mess up the wood surface. I'd do this at night using a flashlight covered by red cellophane (you can get it from report folders). The insects can't see red. Hornets and yellowjackets have been known to fly up the beam of an uncovered flashlight! I'd then blow a pesticide dust up into the holes (not using is mouth!!), wait a day or two, and then putty the holes. I'm not sure what is registered for bees in Japan, but carbaryl is an effective active ingredient and is sold under various trade names.

  2. Hmm...good to know, but there are a few factors in play. The landlord is an old man who isn't in any condition to do anything about the bees. Also, I don't care about the structure or damage of the wood - it's just an old discarded wooden pillar. I guess I'll have to look for an insecticide when I get back.

  3. yea i guess carbaryl

  4. Yeah, right. Kudos to me if I can figure out how to say that in Japanese.