Ants living in deadwood hollow?

I just discovered a colony of ants living inside the hollow deadwood portion of a largeish crape myrtle yamadori (24" tall, 5" wide).

What do I do about this…? I’ve already treated the tree with bonide systemic (~4 weeks ago) to deal with aphids.

Pics in the morning if needed.


Are they carpenter ants? If not keep the ants, they feed on aphids :metal:t2::evergreen_tree::+1:t2::grinning:

Unclear whether they’re carpenter ants, but also, my understanding is that ants and aphids are mutualistic – that ants intentionally cultivate and protect aphids because they feed off the aphids’ waste product. That makes ants a major contributor to aphid issues.

You mentioned you nuked the aphids. The ants should move or starve. Spray / paint the deadwood with presertive (sulfer?) . They should move on.

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I’ve never had to deal with ants living in my trees but I do catch a lot near my trees. I set out a bait called Terro, which is basically just sweetened borax. The ants will ingest it and take back to the nest, which eventually wipes out the whole nest.

It’s relatively safe for humans and pets, but you still need to take some precautions.

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@KurtP: thanks for the response! The ants moved in a couple weeks after the bonide application, so I feel like I need to escalate pest management.

(I haven’t sulphured yet because (1) it’s a relatively new yamadori, (2) I haven’t settled on how to carve it yet, and (3) I’ve never sulphured and am hoping someone in Austin can mentor me through it, assuming I get the job I applied for there and start next month.)

@nmhansen: thanks for the rec! I just ordered some Terro. Thanks for the warning about pets, as well; I have small dogs, so I’ll make sure the Terro containers are off the ground away from their reach and taped down so they can’t dislodge.

Good luck! I honestly don’t know if it’s toxic for trees or not, so I don’t recommend putting the liquid directly on the trees or soil. I would assume that a trap would be fine since the ants won’t be depositing gobs of it on the soil.

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Thanks! The internet says “it’s definitely toxic to plants,” so I’m assuming I’m parking it near the nest rather than the tree. (I’ve determined they’re living somewhere else but keeping pupae in the tree.)

Can confirm that I used Terro and that it immediately cleared up the ant problem.

I wedged the Terro packet securely under the container, so no issues with the local wildlife (including two very small dogs).

Extremely happy I didn’t have to use the Malathion. Thanks @nmhansen!

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