Pest of the Month: Ants
One tree pest you may not have considered in your landscaping is ants. While they are not always the cause of issues for your trees, it’s important to know how to handle them and get rid of them if necessary.
Here’s our guide on whether or not ants can really cause problems for your trees, and how to remove them if they become an issue.
Are Ants Problematic for Your Trees?
First things first, are ants even a problem for the trees in your landscaping? Should you even mind if they are near or on your trees?
Typically, there are two different reasons that ants may be drawn to your trees. One is that they are looking for honeydew being left behind by other insects, and the other is that they are burrowing and making a home inside trees that have rotten wood and cavities.
However, no matter what the reason is, ants are not usually causing damage to your trees. They are most likely warning you that your trees are in trouble, and that some tree care may be appropriate.
It’s also important to note that some specific species of ants actually can be problematic, and should be removed from your trees.
These include carpenter ants, which can be identified by piles of sawdust near the roots of your trees. They chew and discard the wood from your trees, and can cause severe damage if left alone. If you see these, it’s important to contact a trusted, local arborist to see if the tree needs to be removed.
The other ant to look out for is the red imported fire ants. They are especially dangerous for newer, younger trees, and can also give you and your pet blisters. If you notice dome-shaped anthills at the foot of your trees, do not disturb them – they are hostile when disturbed and will sting you. Instead, contact your local tree care company about obtaining the appropriate insecticide.
Harmful ant species are only going to burrow in trees that are rotting or dead, so if you see this begin to happen, it’s important to contact professional help to see what needs to be done.
How to Remove Ants from Your Trees
So, what steps can you take to either remove or prevent ants from taking refuge in your trees? Here are a few tips:
- Consider spraying ant powder around the base of your trees. It’s easy to apply and will effectively kill the ants when they forage for food.
- Spray the tree with a mixture of peppermint oil and water, ants will avoid this scent as they really dislike it.
- Use an insecticide or horticultural soap to remove sap-feeding insects, which will cut off the ant’s supply of honeydew.
For those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Arborist Now and get a quote for assistance with your ant problems.