Ants in grapefruit tree soil

slice4444August 19, 2013

I live in upstate NY and I have a small grapefruit tree (about 6 ft tall) that is in a pot. In the summer I bring it outdoors. In the winter I put it under grow lights and put the pot on a heating pad. This summer, I noticed the leaves getting lighter and curling and I thought maybe it was getting too much water. So I put my finger into the dirt to see how moist it was I and stirred up literally thousands of tiny ants. They are the problem obviously... I saw a post that said to put ant baits in the pot on top of the soil so I did. But then I read that the ants can take the bait into the soil and that can kill the tree.... I also read to soak the whole pot in a bigger pot with soapy water, for 20 minutes then try to rinse the soap out... Any suggestions? This was hard to grow up here! I don't want to lose it!

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Here's a picture. Look closely! (lower left corner)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 10:53AM
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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH

Try plaster of paris mixed with powder sugar mixed very well. A little Diatomaceous earth around the base of the tree. Put an aluminium collar around the trunk and put a bead of tanglefoot on the aluminium. The ants cannot cross the tanglefoot. Tanglefoot will kill the tree if you apply it to the trunk. Place more diatomaceous earth around the pot base. , The diatomaceous earth will kill the ants as they cross over it multiple times. Plaster of paris sets up nicely in their innards. The ants are trapped right were you want them, where you control their food supply of deadly sugar. The submerging the tree in soapy water will rehydrate the root ball. The ants have developed a structure that resist water. You may need a skewer to spear multiple hole in the root ball to over come the ant's nest structure.

Good luck

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 1:21PM
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Ahhh.. too late... I already took it out of it's pot and sprayed the roots off briskly. Still saw ants so I soaked it in soapy water for 1/2 hour. Then I sprayed it off again and re-potted it, not seeing any ants. I did stab the rootball - hopefully that wont kill it... I also left the ant trap on top and sprayed a ring of ant insecticide around the pot on the patio. Hopefully I didn't shock the plant too much. I really put it through some stress I'm afraid.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 1:57PM
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This is the tree... :(
I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 2:05PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Whoa. That's a BIG tree in a TINY pot. I would take the initiative to up-pot your tree. Continue to water and fertilize. I would have recommended that you soak for 20 mins in soapy water, then flush well, first, before applying any bait. Which is what you've done. You can try poncirusguy's bait trick, but I would wait until you've re-potted it. Lastly, check your tree closely to make sure you don't have any scale, aphids, or other nectar-producing pests that might be attracting ants. You'll want to be sure to get rid of those, or the ants will be right back.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 4:34PM
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That pot is bigger than it looks and it's twice the size of the pot I just took it out of... So I did up-size it. Any bigger and I won't be able to lift it and take it inside... I looked closely at the tree and leaves and I didn't see any other invaders. The ants were in the soil only, not on the tree so I don't think there is anything on the tree attracting them.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 5:53PM
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Slice. I realize this is an older thread, but I had to chime in.

Did you rid the ants?

My plants summered outdoors are ant-packed, and a few spiders which I fear.

Submerging didn't help?? I was planning on doing just that before bringing plants inside this autumn.

The ant problem started about 4-5-yrs-ago. Before then, my plants would go outside, without a zillion and one ants.

Last year, I placed indoor/outdoor ant baits on tables plants stay in summer.

I'm not suggesting this, but I also watered EVERY plant with vinegar and water.
Although I did see some ants in the house last winter, there weren't half as many as previous years.

After repotting, did you leave your grapefruit tree outside, or bring indoors?
If you brought inside, it's ashame. Citrus love summer and some autumn-time outdoors.
If it's still outside, are you not worried ants will invade soil again?

I discovered, if an area is ant-infested, it makes no difference where it's placed, including hanging plants.
I've watched ants parade up plant poles. Not one, but literally hundreds.

I'd rather not use chemicals, but I don't want a zillion ants in the house again, so I finally resorted buying baits.

BTW, your tree is huge! Very nice-looking.

One last thing. Patty is correct about checking for other pests. Especially Mealybug.
Ants and mealy work together. They protect each other.
Believe me, I ended up tossing 40 plants because mealy was uncontrollable.

Good luck,Toni

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 10:25AM
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I had a potted Meyer that basically became an anthill in a pot. I dumped it out, washed all the ant-laden soil off, bare rooted re-potted in a very well draining mix, and aimed a light precision Spinosad spray at the trunk, coating it and allowing it to drip freely down around the circumference of the trunk as it entered the potting mix - all of this in July in Houston with ambient temps never below 95 F. I shielded it with 40% white shade cloth for about six weeks. It lost three leaves and entered suspended animation but never actually wilted. In the past week a new flush of leaves has emerged. Don't give up!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 12:35AM
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Ants are a pain in the butt and go hand in hand with Aphids.....they look out for each other.......I tried various methods to combat them.
1.putting mesh in the bottom of pots to prevent insect entry.
2.Raising the pot on pot feet and putting in a large saucer with water in.....then found out the buggers can swim!,,,,Not sure what stroke it was but i saw it.
3.put vaseline around saucer lip.
In the end i had a solution.==
pot on pot feet on plastic saucer.....vaseline around lip of saucer....water in saucer with some dishwashing liquid in it.....they sink in that.......regular spraying off of aphids......spring is when it all happens with the new growth flush..........put ant baits down near any nest nearby.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 12:57PM
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I just found a mound of ants living under and under an outside plant shelf.

Although, I am against chemicals, I placed ant baits on several tables.

I'm boiling water as I type. I'm gonna burn those suckers.

Besides the ants, there's a huge spider with webb living between plants...sigh.

The spider caught all but the ants..It distgusts me.

I don't fear ants, but am terrified of spiders. The spider is going to get boiled, too.

Sorry, I know many here love spiders, but I'm arachnophobic. Even the teeniest spider frightens me, and I know, one day that teeny spider will grow large.

Spiders do not eat ants.

Laidback, you're right about soap..Even dish soap kills ants. When I water by hand, I now add a couple drops per gallon.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 1:12PM
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Toni.....Your a star!!! .LOL.....I remember you from before....Poor spider,
P.s I hate the way spiders live in your side mirrors....covering them with webs all the time....they just dont get the message!.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 12:40PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You peeps have really made me chuckle.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 1:08PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You peeps have really made me chuckle.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 1:13PM
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Hi Laidback..

Poor spider?
It looked like a in the pole that holds shelves/tiers together. It peeked out, looked at me and ran back inside. Its web is covering 5 plants..Now I'm afraid to water.

You meant, Poor Hibiscus and Pereskia. lol.

There's a spider in you side mirror? You're kidding?

Get out the hose and kill that sucker! It's time for wax job..Yuck, a waxed to the auto, spider.

Oh Lord, I just thought of something. What if an Arachnophobic was driving, and a spider somehow got in the car, then landed on the person???

There'd be a major accident...the story broadcasted on National News as the largest auto accident in history. A 1000 car pile-up. lol Because of a spider.

Laidback, guess I asked if you remember me because I haven't seen you recently.
How have you been? I hope all is well.

I'm usually on the HP Forum. One member who lives in Australia posts beautiful pics.
You live in an amazing country.
Well, except for some of your insects...though I must admit, they're very colorful.

Your wildlife is gorgeous. And the scenery, WOW!

Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport... Bobby Stevens

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 1:17PM
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Rhizo, guess we were typing the same time.

I hear ya, I hear ya. lol.

Is peep short for people?

Happy we made you chuckle..

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 1:22PM
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