ants in tree - Knowledgebase Question

Baltimore, Ma
Avatar for kbleakley60
Question by kbleakley60
August 3, 2010
I have blue atles tree about 25', Noticed it was failing, so I gave it water thinking it needed it. From the ground I noticed a lot of black ants climbing up the trunk.What can I do to help my tree? I'm worried it's going to die! Please help!

Answer from NGA
August 3, 2010
The ants are attracted to either sap or honeydew which is the excretement of sucking insects such as scales, mealybugs, aphids, etc. As long as there is sweet nectar in your tree, the ants will be attracted. You'll need to carefully inspect your tree for signs of insects so you can control them before they do permanent damage to your tree. To control the ants, a good least-toxic method is the use of boric acid baits. Boric acid baits can eliminate some ant colonies in about one week. The trick is to not kill the ants at the bait station, but to get the ants to carry the boric acid back to the nest, poisoning the members of the colony that never leave the nest. Most ants feed either on sugars or on protein, fats, or oils. Yours are attracted to sugar and you can make a boric acid bait by mixing one-half cup jelly, such as apple jelly, with 1 1/4 tsp boric acid powder. Punch several holes in the lid of the jar, then screw the lid on tightly and seal with tape. The holes should be large enough for the ants to pass through to reach the bait. Place the bait jar on its side where the ants will come in contact with it. If the ants are unable to gain footing on the jar lid, you might want to scratch the surface with sandpaper or a pebble. If you find many dead ants around the bait station, which ever bait you use, lower the amount of boric acid in the mixture. If you are still finding live ants after a week to 10 days, increase the amount of boric acid. Although boric acid is of very low toxicity, it is best to place bait jars where children and pets cannot reach them.

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