Ants!

Zournathan

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This spring I was looking forward to re-potting a juniper I got from a nursery last year into some better soil, but when I moved the pot I found that it is full of ants. I tried putting some ant poison around the drain holes of the pot and sprinkled some in from the top (wherever I could find gaps in the foliage) but the ants don't seem to have been affected. Any recommendations on a good way to rid myself of the ants. I don't recall the name of the ant poison I was using, but it seems to work well on ant mounds in the yard, just not in pots I guess. In the mean time I've been harassing them every day by squeezing the plastic pot until they come running out :p.
 

JustinBoi

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What I use is a soap spray for mostly any bug that appears on my trees.
Make sure it's not dishwasher detergent.
More like hand soap or the bacterial soap.
 

Mike423

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I actually had the same problem the other year. Funny when you think of pests, ant are one you would think you wouldn't have to worry about. I had taken down a old wooden fixture in my yard and there was a big ant nest in it. They must have moved shop and taken revenge on me for destroying their old home. They had picked a trident maples pot to house in and it subsequently was one of the few pots that didn't have any screen in the potting holes.

I would recommend repotting your tree and removing all the old soil, being sure to repot it in a container with mesh screen covering the drainage holes. They will slowly hollow out your pot and can and will damage your trees root system. I didn't even know I had ants until I noticed my tree was becoming weak and sickly and made a further inspection.

I also wouldnt use that powder pesticide on or near your plants it it might poisen them as well. I also wouldn't use the powder ant pesticide period. My uncle used the powered pesticide on a day it was supposed to rain, it ended up not raining and he forgot about applying it and decided to cut the lawn the next day. He went over the dust kicking it up and must have inhaled a small amount, he now has a serious degenerative never disorder resulting from it that he will have the rest of his life. There fore I would recommend using the lawn spike type pesticides if you think that rout is necessary.

-Mike
 

Bill S

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Are you talking carpenter ants or the little bitty red or brown ones, the carpenter ants I would think are the only ones to worry about I believe, I use Bayer advanced tree and shrub, it works well on most pests.

as I typed the above, an article or post I read not that long ago about someone with a tree somewhat shaped by ants eating it came to mind, maybe not a bad thing if it happens.
 

GerhardG

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Hi

Ants are my single biggest pest, them and their herds of bug cattle they plant all over my trees!:mad:

This should be autum for us, but we had an all-time record rainy season and it's ongoing. The ants moved to a few of my pots just to get a drier place to make nest.

Best sollution I've found is to dunk the pot in a big tub of water, drown them, and then I use a garlic extract and canola oil "poison" to keep them away.

Little buggers had most of the soil out of one of my ficus' by the time I noticed!:mad:

Good luck
Gerhard
 

Zournathan

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These are fireants (little red biting SOBs). I'm thinking I might just bite the bullet and just repot the tree. I'm more concerned for me then I am for the tree in that process :p.

Mike, I'm sorry to hear about your uncle. The ant poison I used isn't the dust type, it's little granules so I don't think there would be a concern for it getting blown up into the air and inhaled really, but worth thinking about. I had never really put much thought into why poisons like that recommend watering them in.
 

Brian Underwood

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By far the easiest way to rid a tree of ants is to simply submerge the entire thing in water for a day or two. The ants will either drown, or relocate.
 

Bill S

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and they all go marching down into the ground, to get out of the rain boom boom boom ....;)
 

rockm

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"By far the easiest way to rid a tree of ants is to simply submerge the entire thing in water for a day or two. The ants will either drown, or relocate."

Submerging the pot will NOT drown the ants, unless you add a surficant like dish washing soap to the soaking tub. That, unfortunately, could also kill your tree.

Ants, having evolved to live in the ground for perhaps a few hundred million years, have adapated to flooding quite well. Some can survive for weeks underwater in flooded conditions. Others have different strategies. Fire ants form "mats" on the surface of the water, linking their bodies together and using surface tension to hold them up. They can also survive underwater for a time too.

All this means is you will probably have to completely disturb their nest to get rid of them. I'd take a hose and wash a lot (not all, given it's a juniper) of the old soil and ants out of the root mass. I'd also try to run a root hook into the root mass where there are signs of an infestation.

Given that fire ants are nasty little critters with a hefty venomous bite could be painful. Disturbing their nests is like kicking a hornet's nest or poking killer bees with a stick...wear heavy gloves, long pants (cinched at the ankels with rubber bands) and keep the critters on the flushing end of the water...

This may seem extreme, but if you've ever been bitten by fire ants, it's doesn't seem all that unreasonable.
 

GerhardG

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Hi

Depends on the pot, with my ficus I just pressed down on the soil while it was in the tub and added some sand afterwards to recover what the ants carried away.

The fact that the water is poison to only the ants helped.

If it's a large development pot doing a semi-repot is probably the right idea, they can do an excellent Houdini impression, true survivors.
 

Zournathan

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Well it seems my harassment strategy worked. I was squeezing the pot until they came running out right before I watered the plant...and now they don't come running out any more so they've either left or wised up to my tactics. Unfortunately it's probably to late to re-pot this juniper now as it's starting to get hot here in Houston.
 
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