Old 05-27-2010, 12:36 AM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 442
Will Ants Kill A Tree?

I've got a young burr oak in the front yard. It's about 8' tall and has a trunk about 3" in diameter at the base. Also at the base is the excavation work of a colony of ants. They're black, and somewhere between 1/8" and 1/4" in size. I see many of them routinely climbing up the tree and investigating branches and leaves. I assume they're looking for other insects to take as prey, but I haven't witnessed that, nor have I seen them physically harming the tree.

However, from the looks of them, they seem to be carpenter ants (I could take and post some pictures if that would help). Normally I'd expect them to be chewing out an old stump or a much larger tree, but they're here at the base of my favorite little oak. Should I worry? Are they actually carving out the heartwood of such a small tree? Will their underground excavation disrupt root development? The tree isn't showing any signs of stress, but I certainly don't want it damaged. On the other hand, I don't want to needlessly kill a colony if they're not doing any harm.
Old 05-27-2010, 12:50 AM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 11,049
If ants are crawling into a tree they are almost certainly feeding on and protecting some sort of sap-sucking insects. The insects they are taking as prey will mostly be other predators such as lacewings or ladybirds. That alone won't kill the tree, but it will inhibit growth and make it more prone to diseases that can kill it. Ants are much more likely to be harming your tree than helping it.

The excavation won;t harm the roots, however it will make the root zone dry. On a small tree this can place considerable stress on the plant.
Old 05-27-2010, 12:58 AM
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 509
Ants probably won't kill a tree. If it's under stress for other reasons, the outcome may be different. However, if you're worried about the ants, there are simple solutions that I can recommend because they've worked for me. Go here:

Old 05-27-2010, 08:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 782
Some ants will move aphids around as the leaves the aphids 'eat' are depleted (usually the tenderish younger leaves, ime). *If* the aphids are present, then there is tree damage happening, for sure.

Aphids are the tiny (hardly visible by eye) sap-sucking bugs that are treated kind of like cows by some types of ants. The ants will move the aphids around the tree(s) to increase productivity, and also keep other predators from harming the aphids. The aphids give off a sticky (sweet??) discharge that ants love, so the ants milk the bugs by rubbing their antennae on 'em...or something like that. Aphids are bad for trees' health (if not already obvious).
Old 05-27-2010, 10:15 AM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 442
Yeah, I've got aphids on a honeysuckle vine. Oddly enough, no ants there. I've been releasing ladybird beetles and spraying them down with a hose to combat them. I haven't seen any aphids on the oak tree though. I will take a closer look later today.

Regardless, it's sounding like I probably should temporarily abandon my "Live and let live" motto and take a "Better safe than sorry" approach and get rid of the ants. Thanks for the advice all and the link oliversarmy.
Old 05-27-2010, 12:48 PM
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: I'm right here!
Posts: 8,858
According to my wife, if your tree has some rotted wood, the ants will eat that, and that's beneficial to the tree. I haven't tried Googling that to verify it.
Old 05-27-2010, 01:21 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Shakedown Street
Posts: 12,950
Perhaps the excavation was in preparation to move the tree?

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:22 AM.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: drinks squash mgtow gay mens treasure trails check vs cheque ther meaning 1112 meaning microwaving pizza numbing eyedrops senator geary schick shadel burien cis amazon nickelodeon name meaning decaf oolong tea one crutch flatline noise 3 quid you cheeky monkey nausea before sneezing insulation supports lowes is smoke matter funeral rosary military hammer diy am antenna doctors associate inc farscape talon fat pilot swim abbreviation silver goldfish three course meal is brandy sweet listen here see odd sized jeans best aftermarket brake rotors samsung smart tv usb keyboard alpha phi omega berkeley glow in the dark condom sword fight never trust anyone with two first names replacement furnace blower motor how much would it cost to build a castle today buying a vehicle without a title average heart rate when walking will a small splinter work itself out cat supplements for weight gain why is q afraid of guinan for english press 1 solar powered car cooling fan where to find pimentos in grocery store swan decoys for sale lemon law on appliances phone book delivery san antonio what channel do you put your tv on for directv bacon number ariana grande pea sized lump under skin on arm sudafed 96 count box libertarian national socialist green party melting point of saran wrap oj simpson national enquirer how to get a car towed when it's not yours its hotter than jokes what to do if you bite your tongue bad buy nitrous oxide online movies like sound of music ben franklin variety store