Trees are durable plants, but seemingly delicate and sensitive when it comes to the little crawling pests that travel up and down their trunk and limbs. Most people have seen ants traveling on the surface of our trees, but some are questioning if it is beneficial or detrimental. In truth, it really depends on the type of ant. Some ants are in fact beneficial to trees, where others can cause damage. Today, we at Milam’s Tree Service would like to expound on the different ants that are good and bad for your trees and how you can minimize the bad ants from inflicting damage to your tree.
Why Are My Trees Infested With Ants?
For two reasons, ants are drawn to trees. The first reason is because they are searching for sweet honeydew left behind by other insects and the second reason is they are trying to contract a home for themselves inside trees where the cavities and rotten wood are. With that being said, ants are not necessarily the reason trees are damaged, but rather an indication they are if the ants are present, which will often give you a chance to treat the tree and restore it to good health.
What Ants Are Bad for My Trees?
However, there are two kinds of ants that can be a major problem for your tree health and/or recovery.
Carpenter Ants: When these black ants are active, piles of sawdust at the base of your tree are usually noticed. Typically, carpenter ants only burrow in rotten tree wood, so the tree harboring these ants is weak and could be at risk of falling. With that in mind, it is in your better interest that you call a professional to remove the tree before it has the opportunity to fall and cause damage.
Red Imported Fire Ants: Particularly harsh on young trees, red fire ants will also inflict people and pets with awful blisters. Observing a dome-shaped mound at the base of your tree indicates their presence, exercise caution and do not touch or disturb those ant hills. The small, dark maroon ants will sting whatever disrupts their home. Contact a professional immediately for insecticide application.
How to Get Rid of Ants on Your Trees
Even though most ants don’t threaten trees, they can be opportunistic and end up in your home or other parts of your landscape. Here are a few ways to stop that from happening:
1) In a spray bottle, mix 30 drops of peppermint oil and one gallon of water and spray the tree with the solution. Ants detest peppermint. Once they smell the offending scent; they will often vacate the area.
2) To capture the ants as they travel, line the bottom of the tree with ant baits.
3) Cut off the ant’s honeydew supply by using a horticultural soap or insecticide to rid the tree of sap-feeding insects.
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If you have trees that are decayed enough that ants have continued the damage to unsafe measures, call Milam’s Tree Service and our experts will remove the tree quickly and efficiently.