Black Ants on young cherry - problem?

I’ve started to notice black ants on one of my young cherry trees. Not a ton but they are not anywhere else in my orchard. I read this can be a signal of an aphid infestation but there are none in sight. Anything to be concerned about?

I suppose that it is possible that the ants are visiting the extrafloral nectaries. See if they are hanging out at the glands at the bases of the leaves.

Yes, the aphids they are likely farming. The trees will establish much more quickly without having to feed aphids. They essentially mine for protein letting huge quantities of carbohydrate pollute the leaves instead of feeding the tree.

Yea, that’s exactly where they are hanging out.

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It’s a pretty small tree and easy to check. There’s not one aphid on it. That’s why I asked. Seems strange.

Best way to prevent ants and other pests to crawl up your trees is to wrap the trunks of your trees with plastic about 8“ wide band. Wrap it tight so ants could not crawl under.

Then, smear on the plastic all around with a product called Tangle Foot. It is very sticky glue. Do not smear it directly on the tree trunks.
It can smother the bark and cause damage to your trees esp. young ones.

Best time to do it is before trees fully leaf out.

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I used duct tape sticky side out. That works until they make a bridge of dead ants. Or it rains hard. But cheap.

I have tried a few things. TangleFoot is the best. Don’t let it get to your clothes or your hair. I had to trim my hair unplanned because it got TangleFoot!!

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How well does that stuff hold up? Do you have to reapply it every couple days or after a rain?

No. It lasts until the end of time :smile: It lasts a long time but I unwrap the plastic by the end of the season. By the, debris may cover TangleFoot if you wrap the trunk low to the ground.

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If there are no aphids, what do you suppose the ants are forging for? They are seeking food, but how is it hurting the tree?

I’m still thinking about small aphids, but maybe I’m being stubborn, however, I don’t see any reason to attack insects unless I know they are attacking a tree.

The easiest way to stop ants from climbing a tree is to use ant stakes and poison their nest.

I did a quick search and may have your answer and the ants probably aren’t harming your tree.


Agree with @alan if ants do not harm your trees, I’d leave them alone.

My cherry tree has aphids every year once it leafs out. I pray for lady bugs to arrive soon. Meanwhile since my tree is short, I squish those aphids by hands. Having TangleFoit wrap does help me as ants can’t farm those aphids.

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The yellowjackets go for the nectar glads on my tree. It usually isn’t an issue since it happens mostly after fruiting. I have two sweet cherry trees. I really like White Gold, the cherries are semi-soft, and tart, but the tree itself grows so well. Pretty too. Nice looking trees sweet cherry. I added Utah Giant to have some firm cherries (very sweet too). I put 6 grafts on it so far. I also have a few Emperor Francis grafts also to compare to White Gold. It is a reliable producer. Huge crops every year. The grafts are as loaded as the rootstock is, just to note that.

For the most part, my use of tanglefoot has lasted all season. Use a throw-away chip brush to apply–you wont be reusing it.