Ant problem - m. grandiflora

Discussion in 'Magnoliaceae' started by maggiec, Jun 25, 2007.

  1. maggiec

    maggiec Active Member

    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    new westminster, BC
    I just planted my precious 'St Mary' this spring. I nervously watched as it shed a bunch of leaves and was so glad when new leaves started coming out. However, I just noticed carpenter ants (? large, black) chewing on the new growth. Closer examination revealed they even chewed around the tender stem at the base of the new growth, almost "girdling" the new tip. One was happily chewing a hole in a newly unfurled leaf. Boy, was I ever peeved!
    Has anyone come across this?

    Anyway, I put a collar with Tanglefoot around the trunk and cleaned off all the ants I could find off the tree. Hope this will keep them off and that the little collar around the trunk won't harm the tree.

    In spite of this, my little 7' tree has 9 flower buds already! Can't wait to smell them...
     
  2. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,522
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Courtenay, Vancouver Island
    Carpenter ants are bad news, really bad news! Buy a good quality insecticide specificly for ants and protect your house and your garden. Damaging a tree is one thing, but if they get into the framework of your house ...
    Smell the flowers later.

    Cheers, LPN.
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,649
    Likes Received:
    531
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Forage well beyond nest so prescence of workers may not indicate nest on property. Have exterminator inspect house to be certain. Along with termites part of natural recycling system for woody debris. Also a food for pileated woodpeckers. If not attacking structures (or magnolias!) should be left alone.

    Magnolia dropping a bunch of leaves all at once indicates some kind of problem, maybe too cold and moist at the root at that time (spring). Southern magnolia usually sheds spent leaves in small amounts spread over a long period in summmer, other broadleaf evergreen trees grown here also drop old leaves during the growing season.

    Many southern magnolias in garden centers down here have a foliage mildew problem, perhaps encouraged enough to be noticeable on sales lots in particular by failure to maintain even moisture. Cultivar 'Little Gem' also apt to be infested and conspicuously defoliated even after being planted out and growing in landscape for awhile. As with other plant performance, results are not uniform. Some specimens handsome, many others sparse.
     
  4. maggiec

    maggiec Active Member

    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    new westminster, BC
    Right after I planted the tree, we had that weird hot spell with temps near 30c, so that didn't help. Was mostly shedding of old leaves - none of the newer growth was coming down. Once the weather cooled off and the rain came, the tree seemed to perk up and now the new growth is all coming out and the flower buds are fattening up. I'm looking forward to it filling out more as it matures - I have a camellia yearning for some shade!

    I used to look with a tolerant eye at the ants, but they've been annoying me of late. Have only spotted them periodically so I'm not too worried yet. I did have some new cedar mulch in the bed around the tree - could this have attracted them? As someone who usually does a catch & release of any bugs in the house, I admit I was irked enough to squish the ones I found around the tree.
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,649
    Likes Received:
    531
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Carpenter ants don't eat wood, they nest in it.
     
  6. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,522
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Courtenay, Vancouver Island
    They may not "eat" wood but cetainly will detroy it when " they nest in it." These carpenter ants destroyed about 100' of 2 x 8 joists on my deck. Appartently moisture in the wood will attract them more so. I'm not so sure they're interest in your magnolia.

    Cheers, LPN.
     
  7. maggiec

    maggiec Active Member

    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    new westminster, BC
    Hmm, I've done some reading up on them, and didn't see anything about a tendency to dine on tender leaf growth either (although one source stated "They also will eat... sweet materials from plants...or tree sap); however they sure enjoyed crawling all over my magnolia. I observed them munching away too. I've had ants on my apple trees, but they were the little ones and they were more interested in the aphids. (There are no aphids on the magnolia)
    I'll keep a closer eye on their appearance on the garden and perhaps try to track down any nests.
     
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,649
    Likes Received:
    531
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    The point was they need something bigger than a wood chip to develop a substantial colony.
     

Share This Page