Why Carpenter Ants Could Be a Sign of Your Tree's Imminent Demise


If you have spotted carpenter ants on a tree in your yard, you should be wary. Carpenter ants take about six years to establish a mature and thriving colony. Once a colony has matured, you will begin to notice activity on and around your tree as the ants seek out food to take back to their nest. You should worry about your home, yes, but you should also worry about your tree.

Carpenter ants are opportunists, and they seek out moist or rotting wood to build their nests in. As such, if you suspect there is an infestation in your tree, ants may be the least of your problems.

Carpenter Ants Infest Damaged Trees

Like termites, carpenter ants prefer to target moist wood. However, while termites eat moist wood, carpenter ants merely build their colonies in it. Once they discover a source of rotting or moist wood, carpenter ants begin excavating it and clearing away the debris to make space for their growing colony. Moreover, their nest will not extend beyond the rotting wood.

And, although carpenter ants don't kill trees, their presence is an indication that a tree is in poor condition and possibly even dying. If carpenter ants are nesting in a branch or the trunk of your tree, they may be targeting an area weakened by rot. But why is your tree rotting? The following issues can cause a tree to rot.

  • Damage to the trunk or a branch that didn't heal fast enough to stop bacteria and fungi from invading the tree.
  • Damage that allowed woodborers, such as the Australian woodborer, which targets moist or rotting areas, to access the tree.
  • A root disease that has caused part of the tree to decline, leaving it open to disease and pest attack.

You might not notice your tree's decline for several years. But carpenter ants are often one of the early signs of deterioration.

You Should Hire an Arborist to Assess Your Tree

As mentioned earlier, carpenter ants don't attack healthy trees. Healthy wood is too hard for their jaws. Therefore, if you have noticed carpenter ants on your tree, it is likely that they have established a colony in a rotten area that might be out of sight. Consider hiring an arborist to assess your tree's health. If you take no action, your tree could decline further and become hazardous.

Only arborists can decide if your tree is worth saving. If the rot is too advanced, you might have to remove the tree for safety's sake.


19 November 2019

Saving Unhealthy Trees: Tricks, Strategies, Tips and More

Seeing a tree die can be sad, especially if it's the only shade tree in your yard, a tree you grew up climbing or a once bountiful fruit tree. However, surprisingly, many trees that people seem to give up on can actually be saved. I hate the idea of anyone losing a tree, so I decided to start a blog. This blog is going to have tips I have learned as a lifelong gardener as well as things I have learned while researching trees and botany in general. I hope you like these posts and that they eventually help you save a few trees!