Ants?

DaveV

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I know this may sound funny, but should I be concerned with ants that are in my bonsai soil. I have my plants on stands and it appears that the ant have crawled up the post and settled in my bonsai pot. The pot contains a shimpaku juniper. Thank you.
 

Bonsai Nut

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I would get rid of them. Where I live, ants are almost always involved with aphids - when I see ants climbing on my plants it is because they are placing and farming the aphids. So the ants aren't bad but the aphids are :)
 

Glider

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If they try to colonise your pots, they will also remove significant amounts of soil forming their galleries, leaving lots of large air spaces. They won't attack your tree roots directly, but the holes will cause die-back.
 

DaveV

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any good suggestions how to get rid of them. I do have some ant poison. The active agent is borax, and I wasn't sure if this is harmful to my plant.
 

Rick Moquin

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Spray the tree and soil with Miathlon at prescribed dosage, repeat after 3 days. During a dry spell "ant be gone" is a goo that ants like (place it near the pot on the shelf), they take it back to the nest and feed the younguns, which in turn kills the colony.

Modern medicine treats the problem, Chinese medicine treats the source.

I kept chasing my tail with my trees. I'd get rid of them, only to have them return. Now each spring I spray the entire lawn with Miathlon as prescribed, I repeat the application a week later. That normally takes care of it. Should activity re-surface, I re-apply. They do sell ant spray (read diluted) for lawns, at about 5 times the price.

The benefit of my early/yearly intervention, not only no ants around my trees but none in the house. I have also found that those pesky little household ant traps aren't worth a damn.
 

subnet_rx

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Dunk the entire pot in water for an hour or so, problem solved. BonsaiNut is right though, there is a reason why they are ending up in your pot, try to figure out why.
 

DaveV

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Thanks to all for the feedback.

Dave V.
 

Wm Tom Davis

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I concur with subnet_rx. When I started watering by dunking my trees and letting them set for 10 minutes, my ant problem also disappeared.
As I have learned from other bonsaists, watering by dunking the pot into a dishpan with water dispels other insects and "flushes" out old oxygen allowing new oxygen to enter and promote root growth.
I dunk/water my trees once a week and gently spray them good in the early morning every other day.
 

Rick Moquin

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Although dunking will undoubtedly rid ants that may be in the soil, you need to eradicate the source IMO.

Ants are aphid farmers and they are not hurting your tree perse with the exception if they colonise your pot, it's their crop that is left behind that causes havoc.

I would rather treat my lawn than my trees, which in turn also precludes them from being in the house, which allot of folks complain about.

I spray my trees with staright water using this device once a week and keep things in check, but although this is a powerful harmless jet, you don't get 'em all. Bug blaster by Lee Valley Tools
 

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rockm

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you will continue to have an ant problem if you don't address why they're there. Dunking isn't a great solution--especially if done regularly--Such treatment can quickly lead to rot problems. It's not a terrific way to get rid of ants.

Ants can live underwater for quite some time--they evolved living underground and have adapted to floods over billions of year. They can stay submerged for a day or even longer with no problems.

The underlying cause, as was mentioned before, is probably a scale and/or aphid infestation. Ants "farm" both of these insects for the sticky sweet honeydew they produce. Ants will carry both aphids and scale larva to trees from neighboring trees. They then herd the aphids and tend the scale to encourage honeydew production. This happens repeatedly if the tree is near other trees with them, as the ants don't take up residence in the bonsai pot, but more likely live in the ground nearby.

Look closely at the ends of new growth for aphids and along newish woody twigs for scale. Scale is very difficult to get rid of with any spray. Hand picking is the best solution. Aphids can be removed with pyrethrin spray (although some maples are sensitive to this) or an upwards blast of water from a hose.
 

cquinn

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I like magnifying glasses. It's tedious, but so is everything else in bonsai.
 

Wm Tom Davis

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Dunking isn't a great solution--especially if done regularly--Such treatment can quickly lead to rot problems...
I'm sorry that I forgot to mention that I live in a semi arid part of California, where a weekly one-time soak will dry out in four days, definitely not leading to root rot. I could see by where you live it may be a problem for you. A dunk for me is also quite cost effective and far less toxic, which I hope leads to healthier trees.

I think one thing to keep in consideration is the area where the poster lives. What may work for me, may not work for you, and vise-a-versa. I think the key is to try different things and find what works for you.

I wish you the best
 
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Neem oil works great on aphids and scale. Grants kills ants works great on the ants. Trust me, use both together and you will have no more problems.
 

shohin kid

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A tip for preventing them and all non flying insects would also be to spray not the bonsai, but the stands. I use the same spray as I do for my house. Just spray the bases of your stands.
 

DaveV

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Thanks Shohin!

Dave V
 
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