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Ants in the Tree
Answered by Tom Mugridge

Q: I have a full grown tree in the yard (not sure what type of tree it is) that is infested with ants where the trunk bifurcates. What would you recommend to treat this tree and prevent further damage? Thank you in advance for any advice.


A: Believe it or not, you don't need to do anything to kill the ants unless they've decided to make your kitchen counter a regular spot to visit.

Ants are not harmful to trees, as they are not wood-eaters. Generally, they are an indication of existing decay within a tree, so I'd be more concerned about what's going on inside the tree other than the ants being there.

They're basically there because there's decayed wood for them to clean out to create galleries in which to place their eggs.

However, if there is a substantial amount of decay present, the tree may be a hazard. Here's where you need to contact a qualified arborist to inspect the tree to try to determine this.

It may involve doing some drilling into the tree at various points to determine either physical or electrical resistance (depending on the type of drilling done).

I strongly recommend having this looked at. The ants may have tipped you off to a potential danger lurking within your yard, and you should have it investigated promptly.

If it is determined that the tree does not present an unreasonable risk, you'll at least be able to sleep easier at night.

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Tom Mugridge

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