Southern Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa micans
Carpenter bees are one of the most misunderstood of our flying friends. Often thought of as a pest, they’re actually important pollinators! Similarly to bumblebees, they’re able to use “buzz-pollination” to help flowers with specific needs release their pollen. Food crops that rely on buzz-pollination include tomatoes, eggplants, blueberries, and more.
Due to their habits, you’re most likely to accidentally encounter the males, who despite their large size and intimidating look, don’t have stingers at all!
These gentle giants do tend to be territorial, and often give people a fright by “bumping” them when they get too close to their female’s nest. They’re all bark and no bite though, so walking away is typically all you need to do. While the more elusive females do have stingers, their stings are still rare and typically only happen while being handled.
Some species can occasionally become a minor nuisance if they choose an inconvenient nesting site, but luckily there are some easy fixes that won’t harm them. Since they prefer dry/untreated wood, painting anything you want to protect, while also leaving a small pile of wood debris somewhere nearby is often enough to live in harmony. If all else fails, a simple wind chime should do trick to get them to leave, as they hate the vibrations!