The branches of fruit trees are pruned so that none are touching the ground, other structures or nearby plants and serving as a bridge for the ants. This forces the ants up the trunk where they become stuck on the coated strip. Regular inspections of the sticky substance and stirring it to prevent the formation of a "debris bridge" for the ants to cross over are necessary. |
Species of ant may raise concern where they are present in large numbers on fruit trees. Although ants do not directly injure fruit trees and vegetables, they are attracted to a substance produced by certain plant pests and will protect these pests from beneficial predators.
Where ants are climbing up fruit or other trees for honeydew or ripe fruit, it is possible to capture them as they are climbing on the trunk. A strip of fabric or paper a few inches wide is wrapped around the tree trunk and coated with a sticky substance such as petroleum jelly or a commercially-available sticky product for ant control. The best solution to this problem is to use a barrier of non-setting glue to trap the ants as they move up the trunk and so preventing them gaining access and laying a scent trail to guide other ants to the aphids. This acts rather like a horizontal fly-paper.
When applying barrier glue it is best to put a band of tape (either masking or PVC) around the trunk and squirt the goo onto that. This allows the barrier to be cleanly removed and replaced from time to time. The other thing is to make sure you also treat any support stakes too, otherwise the ants soon discover any alternative safe way into the canopy.
Given a reasonably dry summer, sprinkling an ant eradicant around the base of the tree and any supporting mechanism is very effective. Ants do not survive to reach the fruit.If you object to the use of chemical sprays, an old and very effective eradicant is a soft soap spray.
Baits are the preferred chemical method for ant control whenever feasible. Effective bait insecticides have slow-acting toxicants that worker ants collect and feed to other ants, including nest-building immatures and queens. For the most effective and economical ant controls, treat in early spring or summer when ant populations are just beginning to increase and are becoming active on the ground surface. To determine which bait to use, identify your primary ant species; fire ants are predominantly protein feeders whereas most gray and black ants are sugar feeders.The Argentine ant however, being a honeydew feeder, has a strong preference for high carbohydrate liquids. High sucrose-based baits, (50% solution), were found to be the most preferred.
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