Ask a Question forum: tiny black ants infesting tree

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Name: koshka cook
Jul 5, 2014 7:45 PM CST
We have three 60 ft. Juniper tree's that are being infested by these ants. We just recently added a good number of deep watering tubes to help them out more(hoping to make the tree's stronger, we water but w/ Ca. drought it's tough). This year these ants are more damaging and are in greater amounts. Any nonchemical ideas ?
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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Jul 5, 2014 8:04 PM CST
May I ask, in what way are the ants damaging the trees,?
Before you try to kill the ants check to see if there is a reason for them to be there.
There could be an aphid or mealybug infestation and that would draw the ants.
If there are termites ants steal the termite eggs.

Edited to add info.
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[Last edited by greene - Jul 5, 2014 8:12 PM (+)]
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Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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Jul 6, 2014 3:58 AM CST
I sometimes lay ant stakes around on top of the ground to draw the ants away from the house where I don't want them. I do like to have ants around to eat any termite eggs and larvae they find. The stakes are chemical, of course, but the bait is contained within the stakes which are easy to pick up and remove safely. If there are pets or small children, the stakes need to be very well hidden.
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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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Jul 6, 2014 4:08 AM CST
I doubt if the ants are the problem with the tree, they are there merely as a symptom of some other problem with the tree. You might want to check with your local county extention office, or a university arborist.
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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Jul 6, 2014 3:38 PM CST
All good advice above here and I agree, the best way to control ants is to bait for them. You can make a sweet bait with sugar syrup, bottled water and boric acid, or, as Tee suggested above, buy some ant stakes. As far as non-chemical control, the only thing is probably DE (diatomaceous earth). It's a non-toxic powder that is abrasive to the ants so they are killed if they walk over or through it. You can buy it in 10lb. bags at Home Depot and just 'dust' it around the trees where the ants' trails are. Bait is better and works faster though, but don't make the bait too strong for small ants. You want the ants to take it home to mama and kill the whole nest. Sometimes it takes several refills of bait, and a couple of weeks for it to work but baiting is the most effective thing.

But, along with everyone else, I'll caution you that the ants are most likely there for another reason and you should keep looking for the other reason. Ants do not feed on trees or damage them. Even Carpenter Ants make tunnels in wood, but do not eat the wood and rarely do enough damage to be seen, especially to living trees.

Your best source of information might be an entomologist at your local Ag university. They are bug geeks and love to talk about bug problems. Sometimes they will have an e-mail address on the university site where you can send a question.

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