Maple Tree insect infestation - Knowledgebase Question

arlington hts, Il
Question by nabci
October 3, 2010
Hi, I just trimmed a rotting branch from my maple tree; and there's now a pretty large-sized gap going into the trunk. It's also loaded with large black ants (carpenter/tree ants?). I would like to kill the ants and fill the gap. Any suggestions for insecticide and gap filler? Thanks for your help - Bill


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Answer from NGA
October 3, 2010

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Carpenter ants nest in trees for one of two reasons: there is rotted or decayed wood (such as in your case), or the center or heartwood section of the tree is easily available to them. Neither situation makes them harmful to the tree. Control is unnecessary for the tree's health, as the ants are taking advantage of preexisting soft, weak wood to establish their colony. Insects, disease, or environmental conditions such as drought are often responsible for weakening and killing limbs or sections of trees. This allows wood rot to set in, which results in wood decay, giving carpenter ants the opportunity to colonize the tree. Carpenter ants use knots, cracks, holes, and old insect tunnels to gain access to these areas.

If the nest is exposed you can use a liquid or aerosol ready-to-use insecticide, such as one containing bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, or permethrin. Spray the insecticide directly into as much of the nest as possible. The more of the colony that is exposed, the better your chance of destroying it. While it isn't absolutely necessary to fill the hole, you can use quick setting concrete. Make a mental note that you've used it, though. If you decide to do some pruning at a later date and cut into the quikcrete filled limb or trunk, you'll dull your saw for sure!

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