Oak Tree Left with Hole and Ants
Q: I have an 80 year old Oak Tree which I had a 22 inch limb
removed that was hanging over my garage. There is a 3-4 inch hole in the
stump at the severed part at the main tree trunk which was caused by
There were some ants dormant in one of the cut up sections of the limb
evidence in six or seven other sections. I had it cut for fire wood and
found the ants when splitting the sections. What do I do with the hole
going into the tree and how would you recommend general care of an Oak
regarding ants in general.
The tree guys thought that the tree looked in
general good health. Several year ago I took down another tree and it was
full of ants which I destroyed and have used hardware store ant poison
products around the house and remaining tree and have not seen any excess
If the hole in the center of where the limb was cut off is not too large in
diameter (no more than 2/3 of the whole diameter), and it doesn't extend too
far into the tree (like into the trunk are itself), then it's probably OK,
but it's hard to tell for sure without seeing it.
Many times you can find
interior decay within a limb once it's been cut off, and as long as there is
sufficient sound wood around its perimeter, there's no significant loss of
I personally wouldn't fill the hole with anything, but you can, if you like,
get an aerosol can of insulation and fill the hole that way. Let it expand
beyond the edges of the hole, then carefully trim off the excess.
As to your ant situation, ants typically do not cause problems in trees.
They are there simply because a decay situation was already in place, and
they exploit it by cleaning out the decayed wood (which is why you find
sawdust beneath the tree) to make galleries into which they place their
They generally only chew on decayed wood, so they really aren't harming the
tree since decayed wood does nothing good for the tree.
In fact, ants are a
good diagnostic tool -- if I see sawdust beneath a tree but I can't find a
cavity, I know ants are working somewhere inside and it tells me to look
further -- there may be enough decay hidden within that there is significant
As for controlling the ants, you really don't have to. Since they aren't
doing any harm, they can be left alone. Just keep them out of the house,
where they're unwanted.
Decayed and/or hollow trees can be 100% alive but 90% hollow so, like they
say, looks can be deceiving.
If there is ever a question about structural
integrity, always enlist the services of a competent arborist to investigate
it for you.
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