Monday, October 3, 2011

Permaculture Tips: Duct Tape Cure for Ants/Aphids in Fruit Trees

A Permaculture Tip is an idea that is derived from observing and interacting with nature.  It is simple.  It is safe.  It is effective.  It helps build a sustainable system of agriculture.  If you have any Permaculture Tips you would like to share, please let me know.  I will post it here, give you the credit, and post a link to your blog or website if you have one.  Email me here: kitsteiner@hotmail.com

Ant "harvesting" sugar from an aphid.

The idea for this great tip comes from Steve Sysko in the Sept/Oct issue of Countryside and Small Stock Journal:

Ants climbing in and around your plants are common.  Most of the time, this is not a bad thing at all.  Sometimes, this can even be a good thing.

I recently heard of how one gardener believes that the black ants in his garden have taken care of his squash vine borer pests.  In his previous gardens in another part of the U.S., he had a lot of damage from squash vine borers, and he knew the telltale signs of infestation and damage.  However, upon moving to his new location and starting a garden, he has not had this issue. He has seen the characteristic burrow in the base of the vine, but the burrow was shallow and had black ants going in and out.  His thought is that these black ants find, kill, and eat the young larvae before it does any damage.  Hard to know if that is true, but if it is, this is pretty amazing.

However, you need to pay attention when you see ants climbing around on your fruit trees.  A few here and there are no problem, but if you see a lot, you may need to be concerned.  Check closely at the shoots and small leaves for aphids.

Ant defending his aphid herd from a ladybug.

Ants and aphids can develop a symbiotic relationship.  The aphids excrete a sweet substance that the ants eat, and the ants will protect the aphids from predators.  It is almost like a bunch of dairymen caring and protecting their herds of dairy cattle.

If this is happening in your fruit trees, significant reduction in growth and fruit yield can result.  If you can stop the ants from protecting the aphids, which love to eat your fruit trees, then this allows the natural predators (ladybugs, lacewings, etc.) to kill the aphids.

How can you do this without chemicals, toxins, and poisons?  Duct Tape!

Wrap the base of the tree (about 3-4 feet off the ground) with duct tape, sticky side out, for about 8-10 inches in height.  You may need to change the duct tape every few days if either the duct tape dries out (and becomes less sticky), or if the ants that get stuck create a living bridge for the remaining ants to cross over.  Steve comments that it is easier to place another layer of duct tape over the previous one instead of removing the first and adding the second.  Eventually, the ants give up and move elsewhere.  If you had ant and aphid issues previously, you can set up duct tape protection on your trees in the spring before the ants emerge.  This prevents them from getting established, and hopefully does that same with your aphids.  Steve comments that after doing this for a few seasons, the ants never returned.

I love this idea!  A great Permaculture Tip!

17 comments:

  1. I have my own garden and I'm really having a hard time with insects like ants. They tend to eat some of the fruits I have there. Good thing you shared these tips. A duct tape might help.

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  2. I tried this tip on my navel orange tree that was infested with ants and aphids and what a difference! The ants were running NASCAR laps around both sides of the tape, completely baffled. Thank you for the great advice, I'll be back for more!

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  3. Did you have the copyright of the picture you have on this page where you marked 'Ant "harvesting" sugar from an aphid.'? If you don't, you should mention that and ask for permission from the photographer.

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    Replies
    1. Thank God you are here to remind that. You much must feel very blessed. Now, open your eyes and look at the link below the picture. Next time you post something try to post something beneficial for others instead criticizing. Or start your own blog

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    2. crazykiller-- Consider the possibility that the Anonymous person who posted the above may not be trying to be a smart alec. Perhaps they are autistic, etc.

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    3. There are alot more retards out there than realized. There are pills for those who are down, depressed and feel the need to be critical of others. Take it easy on "anon"; possible mental issue or forgot to take meds. LOL

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  4. I'm not really able to garden now, due to health and condo living, I used to enjoy urban gardening, but found this site interesting. I was just thinking that instead of bothering with lots of duct tape you could more easily use something wider like contact paper sticky side out.

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  5. You are breeding the egotistical culture humanity is sick with...Does "everything has to be property of the individual or corporation"? I am no communist or even socialist but the exacerbated capitalism has given us the results we live in: "mondo cane".. OK to be capitalist, but sharing is part of the culture, and when a little picture is used for the good lets not get legally picky...Copyrighting and patenting everything is the passport for misery for the majority of humanity. A big part of what everybody does needs to be gifted to humanity without conditions.

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  6. The above comment was meant to go with the Copyright issue.

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  7. Anonymous should go find something else to do. Great idea with the duct tape. I have ants at the base of my cherry tree (bing) and it looks like they have established an ant hill
    Hope this will work. Seems the tree didn't flower this year. Any suggestions. Aphids?

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  8. Anonymous should go find something else to do. Great idea with the duct tape. I have ants at the base of my cherry tree (bing) and it looks like they have established an ant hill
    Hope this will work. Seems the tree didn't flower this year. Any suggestions. Aphids?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous should go find something else to do. Great idea with the duct tape. I have ants at the base of my cherry tree (bing) and it looks like they have established an ant hill
    Hope this will work. Seems the tree didn't flower this year. Any suggestions. Aphids?

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  10. I have a young Stella cherry tree covered in aphids. How I wished I had red this before :-)

    I just bought some tape, unfortunately not as sticky as duct tape but I had some maple syrup, poured some on the base of the tree so the ants have something to eat and won't be bothered with the aphids and used a paint brush to cover the tape in maple syrup. I then sprayed the remaining ants of the tree, they seemed to gather around the edge of the tape and now I'm going to look for some lady bugs.

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  12. Warning, do not use duct tape on papaya trees. I lost 12 trees within a month of applying the tape, some over 20' tall with huge trunks. The trunk becomes soft where the tape is applied and cannot support the tree, all came crashing down. I assume it was the adhesive that poisoned the trees. Huge mistake on my part.

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  14. Thank you so much for your kindness in sharing this article. I have just made 4 little parcels of cinnamon, pepper and bay leafs in organza and we are trying them out.Keep up the wonderful work and if you want more info about how to get rid of ants then visit here.

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