Among the frustrating insects in my orchard, ants and aphids have been an issue for some fruit varieties.
Ants crawl into figs when ripe, resulting in a surprise crunchy texture that moves around on the tongue. I’m also concerned ants cause mold to form inside the juicy sweet figs.
On sweet cherries, I’ve had problems with black cherry aphids. I’m not sure, but I have a theory those aphids are farmed by ants. Either that, or they travel up the trunk themselves.
Each year in the late spring, I apply a fresh plastic wrap and cover with Tanglefoot. This is a good time to do that.
First, I cut strips of plastic from polyethylene grocery store bags. I cut about 6 inches wide, and the length of the bag, which when cut open is a couple of feet.
Then I wrap as tightly as possible around the trunk, two times around, and tie a square knot. These bags are flimsy, and do not girdle the tree. Pulling too tight, the bags tear. It’s easy to learn just how tight to make them.
Then I squeeze a line of Tanglefoot around the trunk, on the plastic. I spread it over the plastic with the back of a disposable plastic spoon. Disposable because once it’s on the spoon, a nuclear explosion would not clean it off the spoon again.
This has worked well for me, for many years. As long as I remember to do this, the figs do not get ants and the cherries do not get black aphids. Last year I was sick, could not apply the Tanglefoot, and both happened again. In the winter, I pull off the old wrap / Tanglefoot to let the trunk breathe. That may not be necessary, but I like doing it.
I do not want to appear to be endorsing a product. I imagine anything similar would work. I tried Vaseline but it gradually ran down the bark. Possibly, plastic sticky tape, applied with sticky side out, would work as well. Axel grease might work, but might behave the same as Vaseline.