How To Get Rid Of Leafcutter Bees: Effective Strategies for Control

How To Get Rid Of Leafcutter Bees

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There’s nothing more annoying than having unwanted insects in your garden and while leafcutter bees are generally harmless, having a nest right outside your backdoor is often unwelcome. If this sounds like a familiar situation then you’ve probably been wondering how to get rid of leafcutter bees.

There are many ways you can get rid of leafcutter bees including vacuuming them up, planting bee-repelling plants, and using items from your kitchen. In the worst cases, you may need to call a professional pest controller.

Are Leafcutter Bees Dangerous?

Just like many other types of bees, leafcutter bees are capable of stinging. However, they generally have a very docile nature and won’t sting for the sake of it.

Even when these bees are threatened, it takes a lot for them to deliver a sting and when they do, it’s known to be one of the least painful types of bee sting.

With that said, it is worth keeping in mind that if you have a bee sting allergy, things could be a little more serious. In that case, it’s best to stay away from any type of bee and allow someone else to handle the situation.

Why Are Leafcutter Bees Attracted To My Garden?

Leafcutter bees take their name from the fact that they cut out little circles from leaves to use as nesting materials.

The best types of leaves are those that are soft enough for the bee to cut through with ease. It’s for this reason that they’ll also often use rose petals which can disgruntle gardeners. So, if you’re wondering why these bees are suddenly making an appearance, you might want to consider the types of plants you are growing.

What’s more, when nesting, leafcutter bees like to hide out in little cracks and crevices so if there are any of these in your backyard, they could be the perfect home for these critters.

What Are The Best Ways To Get Rid Of Leafcutter Bees?

If leafcutter bees have become a problem in your backyard then there are several ways you can deal with this. I would always advise using natural methods as killing the bees should be the last option. However, for more serious cases, I will include some extreme methods in this section.

Use Your Vacuum Cleaner

When it comes to getting rid of leafcutter bees, one of the best things you can do is to get the job done humanely. Your household vacuum cleaner is a great way to remove them from a nest without doing them any harm.

Of course, you’ll need to use the long extension so that the bees are transferred directly into the canister and not through the bristles on the main head as this will kill them.

When employing this method, I would urge you to use protective clothing because any bees that don’t get sucked up will likely be agitated and have the potential to sting.

Once you have vacuumed all of the bees up, you can take the canister away from your home and release them into the safety of the wild. Just make sure that you fully empty the vacuum canister so that no bees are left behind.

Choose Bee Repelling Plants

We all know that bees love flowering plants but did you know that there are some that will send them packing? It’s true, not all flowering plants are attractive to bees because of their scent so by planting species that they don’t like, you’ll have fewer leafcutter bee visitors to your garden.

When you opt for this method, I should warn you that you may also need to dig up and remove any existing plants that are attractive to bees. Otherwise, you’ll just be counterproductive.

There are many plants you can use and while I cannot provide an exhaustive list, below are some of the most common:

  • Wormwood
  • Basil
  • Marigold
  • Eucalyptus
  • Citronella
  • Catnip
  • Crane’s bill
  • Pennyroyal]
  • Mint
  • Daylilies

Another thing to consider with this method is that it can take some time to take effect. However, it is definitely one of the best options if you want to use a natural approach. Plus, your garden will be filled with beautiful blooms.

Water And Vinegar

Before I get into the details of this method of getting rid of leafcutter bees, I have to point out that vinegar can be fatal for bees so you must proceed with caution.

You can take a mixture of vinegar and water and apply this to some rags or sponges which will be placed near the nest or problem areas. This is very effective because leafcutter bees cannot stand the smell of vinegar so they’ll soon fly off and look for somewhere else to go about their business.

If you’re dealing with a nest, it’s a good idea to place the soaked rags around the entrance when most of the bees are out of the nest. This way, when they return, they’ll be deterred from entering and will go elsewhere.

Spicy Does It!

Just like vinegar, leafcutter bees cannot stand the smell of spicy powders such as cinnamon, garlic, cayenne pepper, or paprika. Even better is to mix all of these powders together to create the ultimate bee-repellent blend!

When you have made your mixture, simply take it and sprinkle it around any problem areas in your garden. The great thing about this option is that while the bees hate the smell of the powder, it won’t do them any harm.

I would recommend this method if the leafcutter bee has nested in a hard-to-reach place such as inside a plant stem. Simply sprinkling the powder around the area can be enough to deter them from coming back.

There is one downside, however, and that’s that you may need to use a lot of powder so it could work out to be quite expensive.

Lure The Bees Away

Another of the best organic methods of removing leafcutter bees from your garden is to simply lure them away. I would not recommend buying a bee lure from a store or online as many of these are designed to trap and kill the bees. However, you can make your own lure that’s much safer.

The most simple way to lure the bees is by using something that attracts them like running water. Place the source of the water in an area of the garden that you don’t mind bees using and they’ll likely head there.

However, this isn’t a guaranteed method but I do have one more trick up my sleeve. You can take some sugar water (one part sugar and one part water) and place this into a container. This will attract bees which you can then trap inside the container and release somewhere else.

Of course, you aren’t likely to attract hundreds of bees at once so this will be something you’ll need to continue repeating. That said, it is a handy idea for those of you who have planted bee-repelling flowers and need to remove individuals before the flowers take effect.

Try Mothballs

When you think about mothballs, you imagine them being used only to deter moths but it’s true that leafcutter bees (and other bee species) aren’t a fan of them either.

This is because of the potent smell that mothballs give off and once a bee catches a whiff of it, they’ll swiftly fly in the opposite direction.

It’s a good idea to place the mothballs around the entrance of the nest or in areas where leafcutter bees are often spotted.

I would urge you to err on the side of caution if you have pets, however, since mothballs contain ingredients that can be harmful to animals. If you do have pets, be sure to place the mothballs well out of their reach or keep them out of the garden entirely.

Use Insecticides

The methods I have discussed above are all effective but there may be times that you have such a large problem with leafcutter bees, that natural solutions won’t work.

I have to stress that I would never advocate killing any type of bee for the sake of it but if they’ve become so much of a pest that you can no longer use your garden, I’m sad to say that insecticides may be the only solution.

One of the great things about this method is that it’s far more fast-acting and there are also a few different options in terms of products.

You can purchase spray insecticides or powders, both of which can be used directly on the bees or in the nest. Of course, I would encourage you to read the instructions before use as each product works in a slightly different way and may be harmful to humans.

In most cases, one application of insecticide products should be enough but there may be times that you need to repeat the process. If the bees have not gone within a couple of days then it’s time to reapply.

How Do I Stop Leafcutter Bees From Coming Back?

If you have successfully gotten rid of the leafcutter bee population in your backyard then the last thing you’ll want is for the bees to return. But fear not! There are some things you can do to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

For starters, it’s really important to keep your garden tidy and free from items that could be attractive to the bees. This includes things like log piles, piles of leaves and even rocks. All of these are potential nesting sites and serve as an open invitation.

I would also recommend paying close attention to your property and performing regular checks for cracks and crevices where leafcutter bees may nest. If you find anything, be sure to fill in the gaps as soon as possible.

Should You Kill Leafcutter Bees?

Like all other types of bees, the leafcutter bee is an important pollinator. For this reason, I would never encourage anyone to kill them.

Even if they’re sharing your garden, they don’t pose much of a threat so finding natural ways to deter them is always going to be the best answer.

Of course, there may be times (and it’ll be rare because they’re solitary bees) that you have lots of leafcutter bees gathering in your backyard. In this case, you may need to take more extreme measures but my advice would be to contact a professional pest controller who will be able to deal with the bees in the most humane manner.

If you’re willing to learn more about nature and allow its processes to take place on your back doorstep then it might be worth leaving the bees alone. They pose no risk to you and observing wildlife up close is one of the most rewarding things in the world!

Final Thoughts

Leafcutter bees are not dangerous nor will they sting unless provoked. What’s more, they’re a solitary species so nests do not contain a large number of bees. However, these insects may still be unwelcome in the garden so finding ways how to get rid of leafcutter bees is essential for most homeowners.

I would always encourage you to use a natural method of pest control such as mothballs, vacuuming, or planting bee-repellent flowers. Leafcutter bees are important pollinators so while you may not want them in your backyard, you don’t want to kill them either.