Ants are one of the most common types of pests found in residential landscapes and lawns. They typically form cone-shaped mounds in which they reproduce while gathering food from their surroundings.
Some ants are perfectly harmless, but others can cause significant damage to your trees. If you’re worried about your trees succumbing to ant damage, you should take the necessary precautions to protect them from this otherwise common pest.
Carpenter Ants: The Basics
Carpenter ants, like other “carpenter” insects, are known for boring holes into trees and other wooden structures. They don’t necessarily eat the wood – a key difference between them and termites – but rather chew up the wood so that they can build tunnels.
Carpenter ants are usually longer and larger than fire ants. If you discover any around the base of a tree, there’s a good chance that the tree is infested with them.
What an Infestation of Carpenter Ants Means
It’s important to note that carpenter ants typically only devour rotted or decaying wood. Assuming a tree is healthy and not otherwise decaying, it shouldn’t be affected by these pests.
Therefore, an infestation of carpenter ants usually indicates an underlying health problem with your tree, such as fungal disease.
Protecting Your Trees From Carpenter Ants
There are several things you can do to protect your trees from carpenter ants.
First, make sure that your tree is hydrated and not suffering from lack of water. Whether it’s a deciduous or coniferous, all trees need water to live.
If a tree in your landscape doesn’t receive enough water, it may die and begin to decay. This, of course, attracts carpenter ants as they seek refuge in the tree’s rotted wood.
Second, consider using an ant pesticide powder around the base of your tree. Although there are many types of ant pesticide powder, most are designed specifically to kill ants by providing them with toxic food.
Carpenter ants believe the powder is food, so the workers collect it and take it to their mound. Once here, the colony’s other ants consume the powder, resulting in death. It’s a safe and effective way to kill and prevent carpenter ants without harming your trees.
Third, try spraying the bottom 2 or 3 feet of your tree with a solution of water and peppermint oil. Peppermint oil has dozens of practical uses, one of which being an ant repellent. For whatever reason, ants hate peppermint, so spraying it on your tree discourages them from attacking it.
The Woodsman Company offers tree planting, tree pruning and shrub trimming, tree removal and stump grinding as well as a tree wellness program.
If we can help with any of your tree care needs give us a call at 512-846-2535 or 512-940-0799 or
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