Ants eating my apple tree

gardenkitteh(7)April 9, 2008

Can anyone recommend a good pesticide that kills ants, and won't kill the neighborhood children when they steal the apples? Last year nothing I could do would get them to wait until the apples were ripe. I doubt they'd listen to me about pesticides. I don't mind sharing the apples, but I'd rather not have them sickening on me.

We have a serious infestation. I'm battling it on many grounds, but the apple tree seems to be the main fight, and I'd like to spray the apples with something. I've already sprayed for fungus and grub worms.

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Ants don't eat trees.

So what are they doing? Perhaps running up and down the tree?

If so, the tree has some sort of insect problem.

Or does the tree have a hole where the ants go in and out? If so, the hole resulted from some other cause,; the ants are just there.

Or what?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 1:47AM
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They are eating the apples themselves. Not the tree-part. They are pavement ants, and attracted to "Sweet". They lived in cracks in the driveway, and the deck out back. I have poison around them, but I'm afraid they'll keep returning as long as there is a food source.

I mean, I've sprayed for Aphids, but nothing seems to work.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 5:35AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Long ago, my dad had this sticky substance (almost looked like rubber cement/contact cement) he would paint on the tree to "trap" the ants or deter them...I can't remember which. Anyhow, I think he applied this to both apples and maples but, again, I can't quite remember.

I hate ants with a passion. Especially red ants. In the summer. When I'm weed-eating.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 10:54AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

If they're bothering the apples, I suspect one of several things.

The apples have been on the tree too long. Or they have been damaged in some way (critters or disease) which allows the ants access to the interior.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 1:44PM
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leslies(z7 No VA)

Tanglefoot is what that sticky stuff is called. I haven't seen it in too many garden centers, but I am sure you can get it online, because I did. It isn't expensive or toxic.

Wait to apply it until the apples start to ripen in late summer or early autumn. It may be one of those things you have to reapply after rain.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 2:53PM
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I haven't tried this myself but if it helps -- try applying a wide band of petroleum jelly all around the bottom of the trunk/trunks. This will prevent ants from climbing upwards.

A safer form of pesticide is based on pyrethium (a toxin taken from chrysanthemums)

You could put up a sign to say fresh pesticides have been applied - just to prevent kids from taking your apples.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 3:39PM
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Would a sign have stopped you when you were seven?

At the end of last summer, when I moved in I was asking them to not eat the apples because they weren't ripe, they were disgusting and covered in bugs, and they would probably get sick.

They just got really good at sneaking into my yard while I wasn't looking. And I got the reputation as the mean Ogre Lady on the block. No matter how much I explained that I was concerned for them and not the apples, they didn't believe me.

The old owner used to let them eat the apples--bugs and all! I'd rather not gamble a child's well being on it behaving.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 11:18PM
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Do you mind the kids eating the apples? Or are you just concerned about them being infested with ants and the kids eating them? Other than using a trap-like product such as Tanglefoot or the petroleum jelly at the base of the tree, I'd just let them be. There is far less concern with the kids munching down a few ants (if they have the gross factor to do so) and unripe apples than there is with them consuming insect-free apples that have been treated with pesticides. Even so-call "safe" pesticides like pyrethrums are pretty toxic if ingested soon after application and especially to children, who have a low tolerance to pesticide contamination.

You do realize that ants (and other insects) are a part of the diet of numerous cultures around the world and are a decent source of protein. At the most, eating a few bugs and unripe apples would give the kids a tummy ache, nothing more. Eating pesticide treated apples could result in lot worse.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 12:32AM
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Thank you for giving me perspective Gardengal.

I was mostly worried about the kids eating ants and unripe apples. While I'd LIKE some apples to make it 'till fall so they can ripen, I'd much rather have all the apples stripped of my tree--plus a major ant problem--than let the neighborhood children get really hurt.

I think I will use tanglefoot and petroleum jelly, though. just to cut down on the ant problem.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 6:00AM
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Sorry to hear that you are being maligned in your neighborhood.

No signs may not deter young children but it offers you some form of legal protection in case angry parents complain. I don't know if it helps but if you really need to apply pesticides, you could apply clear yellow tapes around the tree perimeter to prevent people from approaching the tree though I've no idea just how determined the kids are to get your apples.

Eating a couple of live ants will not produce much harm. I recall a few such accidental 'snacks' in my childhood. It tastes awful. Acrid and really chemically flvoured. But no harm done. I'd more scared of getting a bee or wasp sting.

And no harm done in eating green apples. Its just sour - akin to eating green mangoes and green papayas.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 3:21PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

It won't help with the ants...
but you could hang up some old chicken-bone chimes to keep the kids away ;)


    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 5:46PM
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I am from New Brunswisk, Can. My apple tree is about 5 years old. Last year was the first time I had apples (12 to be exact) But I dont,t think they were healthy. There was brown blotches on them. I also have ants running all over the place. Is there someyhing I can do to pruduce heathier apples?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 6:56PM
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kman04(z6 KS)

Hhmmm...I'm a bit late to this discussion, but I thought the posters worried about kids eating ants might be interested in this tidbit. It's estimated that the average person unknowingly consumes between 1 lb. (.45kg) and 2 lbs.(.91kg) of bugs a year. Most "accidentally" mixed in with your food, but also supposedly some are eaten while sleeping and how many times has a bug flew into your mouth and down your throat while running around breathing heavily with your mouth open? Eating bugs is harmless in most cases, and in fact in survival training it's taught as one of the easiest and most nutritious survival foods you can eat.

How many people are really grossed out now? lol

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 7:50AM
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