Q. Can you recommend a pesticide to protect backyard grown fruit trees from ants? They are crawling up the trunks and they get to the fruit before the birds even have a chance let alone us!
|Aphids on the bottom of an apricot leaf. The honeydew|
from these aphids is "milked" by ants for their sugary
energy. Control the aphids = control the ants.
A. The ants are usually going up the tree and into the leaves for honeydew from aphids at first. They seldom attack fruit that is firm but usually attack fruit that is already soft. Because they are after honeydew (the excrement from aphids which is really leaf sap full of sugars) the ripe fruits are a natural place for them to look for additional sugars.
There are a couple of things you can do. First is to find and treat the ant nests in the ground. Follow these critters back to where they are coming from and pick up some Amdro from Lowes or Home Depot. Treat the ant nest in the ground. It is not a problem to use around fruit trees.
Secondly, spray the fruit tree with insecticidal soap to reduce the aphid population. You will have to do this multiple times, perhaps once a week since soaps do not have any staying power and only kill insects it comes in contact with.
Thirdly is to harvest the fruits (peaches, plums, apricots, pluots) early when they are still firm and not soft. Let them ripen at room temperature in the house and they will still be very high in sugars and taste great. This is usually about a week before they are fully ripe on the tree.
If you do not know when this is then this year mark it on your calendar so next year you will know. Or you can simply taste a firm fruit after it has turned color. When it is sweet but still firm then pick the ones that are ready and stay ahead of the ants and birds.