Black Ants in Stone Fruit Trees.

thapranksta(Mid TN 7A)April 3, 2012

I went out to my young J. Plum and peach trees (which are starting to branch some) and saw black ants crawling all over. I also noticed that some of my leaves had little holes in them and also that some of my newer leaves were starting to curl. I've read that there could be little critters called aphids that are really at work here. Should I be worried about the damage at this point? I was wondering what you guys use to get rid of the ants and aphids.


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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

I use spectracide diluted in a spray bottle to spray exclusively for aphids. It seems to do the trick. If I see ants on my trees I kill them. Ants will send scouts in all directions so If you see just one on your tree KILL IT before it cant report back to the colony! They harvest the honey dew from the aphids! Lady bugs also will work to control aphids but you have to spray them with coca cola first so they cant fly away :)


    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 4:24PM
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alan haigh

I wouldn't follow Blaze's example although it is tempting to just blaze away at any sign of trouble. Most types of aphids aren't hard to see with the naked eye and would be on the underside of newly formed leaves. All can be seen with a little magnification.

I use outdoor antstakes when ants seem to be farming aphids and the aphids are a problem, which they've never been for me in peaches. If the tree is growing well, aphids usually get taken care of by lady bugs or other predators if you don't poison them and wait a week or two. Use poison and you have to keep using it because you kill the predators along with the aphids.

Cherries are an exception to this because the aphids tend to curl up the leaves and become difficult for predators to reach.

You should try to find out specifically what's ailing your peaches before treating the tree. Posting a picture would be helpful. It's very possible that the ants are unrelated- especially if you can't actually see any aphids.

I generally only worry about aphids with young, small trees because mostly they just slow trees down.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 4:57PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

Let me clarify. I meant to kill ant by

I only use chemical in case of large aphid infestation. Which I rarely ever get. I think Ive used it maybe once or twice in the last 3 years. Sound better??

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 8:59PM
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Randy31513(Georgia 8b)

Ants in the peaches is always a problem down here. Of late, when I have left over pesticide in a spray or flush water in the sprayer I spray around the bottom of the trees that are in bloom or not being sprayed to slow the ants down. It may not be perfect but it seems like a better way to get rid of that last little bit in a tank.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 9:01PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

Yes but I think the "organic" crowd might have a problem with that. Dont forget to clarify that you only spray when no beneficial insects are in the area. Oh and spraying pesticide on the ground also kills beneficial organisms helping the roots...hehe ;)

Like I said. A small spray bottle with a diluted pesticide for aphid infestation. ONLY spray while no beneficial bugs are on the tree or in the area works for me every time. Or I pick them off by hand. The few time I did have very large aphid problems were solved every time by this method. I continue to be vigilant to watch for scout ants and ants in general and kill them by HAND when I see them.

I have used chemicals in the morning when no bees or lady bugs were out only to see the bees and lady bugs on the same tree later in the day alive and well.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 9:12PM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

Aphid are easy taking care of with garden hose just wash aphid off. A thunder storm rain wind clear out Aphid crop I have use air blast sprayer wash off.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 10:04PM
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Last week I saw a lot of uninvited ants and pill bugs eating mulberries on several m/b trees. I wrapped a ring of 1" wide masking tape around each trunk in smooth, rounded section with the sticky side facing outward. I now have a collection of pill bugs and ants stuck to the tape on the trees. While at a friends home last week, he showed me a young citrus growing in a raised container with both an ant pile in the container and lots of ants walking up the citrus trunk to eat the tender, new leaves.After placing a masking tape ring on the citrus trunk, we saw that the ants were not willing to cross it when coming from either direction. Try it.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 10:57PM
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alan haigh

Blaze, you are having fun but the organic bit is a straw man. The point I was making wasn't never to use poison- synthetic or otherwise, but to ID your pests and deal with them in the most efficient way possible. The poster hasn't even identified the pests doing damage. The curling leaves sounds like aphids but not the holes.

Aphid damage is not always a significant problem anyway and up here 90% of the time you are best served to let them run their course. When I suggested using outdoor ant stakes- that is a synthetic pesticide- but it is easy to use and doesn't spread much poison where it's not needed. Usually aphids are only persistent outdoors when protected by ants, IME.

I manage fruit trees full time (and am a licensed sprayer who uses restricted synthetic pesticides) and I have observed a strong correlation between spraying my aphids and losing my ladybugs. Maybe because of using different materials.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 6:20AM
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Randy31513(Georgia 8b)

I don't know if it was the drought but last summer the ants were getting into the near ripe peaches on the tree.

Harvestman, I will look up the ant stakes.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 6:42AM
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alan haigh

Yeah, I never had trouble with large black ants eating fruit before last year and I wasn't able to effectively control that with the ant stakes I used for some reason. I would have tried another type but it was time to harvest what was being damaged anyway- for me it was Euro plums.

In the past I've controlled aphid farming ants with such stakes but this is all anecdotal. I don't see how spraying most types of insecticides at the base of a tree would kill ants, however. I would expect they could walk over it unharmed as the stuff used to keep them out of the house is pretty strong material.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 9:33AM
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thapranksta(Mid TN 7A)

It seems like most of the damage is really happening to my Satsuma Plum. The Shiro located about 6 feet away from it looks to be in much better condition (and much faster growth) even though the Satsuma gets more sunlight and is in similar soil. Until I really noted the damage, I thought the growth difference was probably due to general vigor differences between the two J. plums. The peach tree looks great. Only a few small holes and vast majority of leaves look untouched.

A couple pictures of leaves curling up on Satsuma

A picture of the underside of the leaves

Best picture I could get of the type of holes

The pictures below are from the Shiro. As you can see the Shiro is in much better condition with less and far smaller holes. It is also branching out very well with no curled up leaves.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 10:49AM
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alan haigh

I'm stumped although I've often gotten shot holes in certain J. plum varieties but I never ID'd it because trees continued vigorous growth and fruit unaffected. Those holes were smaller and much more numerous though. Aphids have never slowed J. plums for me. I assume you see no aphids- ants are sure a sign, though.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 10:59AM
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Buy 'Tanglefoot'.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:13AM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

My satsuma does the same thing. The first few sets of leaves are always weird looking and full of holes and a little curled but after a few sets the leaves are fine and continue to grow good and strong.

It looks like it might be a nutrient deficiency or soil problem? I dont know. I think I could see a few aphids in your pictures of the Satsuma. Just hunt them down and pluck them off and squish them.

Yeah harvestman I was having fun with you :) But the few aphid problems I have had have been very large and have seemed to get out of control fairly quick.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 12:00PM
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