Ants on a Tree - Knowledgebase Question

Phoenix, Ar
Question by ThomasEcklan
May 16, 2010
I use a mature tree for my hammock, but recently I have noticed half of the bark is much darker than the rest and chips of very easy. Upon closer inspection there are a lot of ants all over the tree. Could there be any relation to the ants and the bark issue or any easy way to get rid of the ants

Answer from NGA
May 16, 2010


It's really difficult to diagnose a problem without seeing it! The darker bark makes me think some sap is oozing from the tree - an injury of some type. Could be the way you've attached the hammock, or it might not be related at all. Ants are there because the oozing sap is sweet and makes a nice meal for them. You can control the ants but that won't cure the problem with the tree. If it is valuable, you might want to hire a certified arborist to assess the health of the tree. To control the ants, there are several things you can do. 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. You have the kinds that like sugar, so jelly and boric acid baits will control them. 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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