ANTSSSS on my Tangelo blossoms! :*(

DjkleenMarch 27, 2014

I'm starting to have a problem with ants on my Tangelo tree blossoms. I noticed the ants are getting larger in numbers day after day. I actually started flicking the tree trunk to knock them off and pinching them when they go on the leaves. Obviously that method is a losing cause. I looked up someone said to sprinkle grits and they'll take the grits to their queen and when she eats them she'll die. I also heard to wrap the trunk in tape(sticky side out). I did both. If that doesn't help can anyone else recommend anything to stop them? they're infesting my blooms and I really want oranges this year!! Any help is very much appreciated!!!



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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Ants aren't the issue, Djkleen. It is the aphids they're trying to farm on your citrus that are the issue. If you get rid of the aphids, you'll have less ant issues. You can use a boric acid ant bait. Not sure about grits, have not heard about that. Take your hose and give your citrus trees a good hard spraying to knock off the aphids. If they come back, you can use an insecticidal soap spray or Neem oil spray to get rid of the aphids.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 7:14PM
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The thing is, There isn't any aphids on my tree. I've literally sat down and inspected the leaves and no aphids are present. The ants are eating my blooms.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:14PM
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The ants don't eat the flowers; and by themselves they really don't damage the plant; but ants bring aphids... you may not have them now, but you WILL; and do significant damage to your leaves. Control the ants and you will not have aphids, leave the ants and you WILL have aphids.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:43PM
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Non-Toxic Ant Killer
combine equal parts,
sugar--molasses, dry yeast.
Can be kept in a jar in refridgerator. put teaspoonfuls near where ants are. They will take it back to the nest for food, when they eat it, the yeast expands, and boom, dead ants.
Non toxic to kids, pets, etc. I've used it many times, even on the dreaded red ants, and it works real well. Please let us know how you progress with your tree. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:54PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

If no aphids, look for scale.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 12:35AM
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BarbJP CA 15-16/9B

I have seen ants gather the nectar of the flowers themselves with no aphid or scale present. However, later when there are no blossoms they will farm the aphids or scale to get more sweetness. I've never been sure if they actually bring the aphid or scale to the tree or just protect and encourage any that show up anyway. In any event, best to get rid of them sooner rather than later.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 1:36AM
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Okay, Thanks for all of the advice. i'm going to do the recipe posted above. I also looked over my leaves for scale and they are all clean. When I took the picture above I had already removed all of the ants from my tree but before I took it I saw the ants eating/harvesting the tips of the blossom. Right now I have electrical tape wrapped around the tree trunk, sticky side out. Hopefully that will also deter the ants. This is my first citrus tree and I really want to get fruit from it.

Can anyone also tell me how long it usually takes for the blooms to turn to fruit?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 1:43AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

You're correct, Barb. And, ants can even act as pollinators, albeit not the best, as they're always on the hunt for nectar-secreting insects (scale, aphids, etc.) Jean is right - check for scale, too. Scale may not be on the leaves, but on the branches. They are pretty tricky to see. Ants cannot eat blossoms, djkleen. I have never heard of this ever. Where is Rhizo?? We need Rhizo to weigh in on that. You can use tree wrap, then paint the tree wrap with Tanglefoot. Keep the wrap up a little from the ground, to discourage water from getting under the wrap and damaging the bark and encouraging fungal rot. I do not use Tanglefoot, due to the large numbers of lizards and other beneficials, as they can get stuck, too. But, for some, it works well. Electrical tape isn't sticky enough, and will stop working pretty quickly out in the sun. Citrus bloom now, and most cultivars will ripen in the winter. Depends on your cultivar. What tangelo do you have? If it's Minneola, they ripen for me here in S. Calif. around Jan through March.

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: UC IPM: Ants and Citrus

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 12:59PM
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Something that has worked well for me in the past for those tiny tiny sugar ants that swarm is mixing half and half borax (looks like white powder) and white sugar. Sprinkle it around the tree. The ants can't differentiate between the two and will carry both the sugar and borax home which will kill the nest when they consume it. When I had my first ant infestation, I suffered for a whole month before discovering this method. Then I was able to get rid of them in under a week and they haven't come back yet. :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 1:28PM
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Regarding the use of electrical tape being wrapped snuggly around a smooth section of the lower trunk with the sticky side facing outward, is not sticky enough to hold insect feet. I experimented with many kinds of tape trying to find functional tape that actually worked to HOLD the walking bugs so that they could not walk across the tape. By far, the paper masking tape had the best kind of glue. Try a couple separate rings of 1/2" wide or 3/4" wide. Depending on the tape manufacturer's choice of glue on your masking tape, the glue may remain sticky enough to work for a couple weeks, but you will really have to touch it with a finger tip every few days to make sure. When it fails to stick easily, just wrap another pc. right on top of the existing strip and you are good to go. It would be good to check for trapped prey each morning. You may need to gently set free a stuck lizard every now and then.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 11:21PM
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