I recently (about 6 weeks ago) planted my first Arbutus (I live in North Vancouver). Every day after work I pay a visit to see how it's doing, since I do fear for its life given all the talk of Arbutus decline in the Pacific Northwest and what not... As it happens, ants seem to be taking a liking to the new buds. This evening about eight ants were camped out on one of the lateral buds... usually I can blow them off, but not tonight... These critters had their mandibles right in there, and would not let go. Nothing worked other than scraping them off with a twig, which resulted in the death of all eight ants... you see, they would not let go... their mandibles remain embedded in that bud. My tree is about two feet high. Many of the older leaves show lots of brown to black blotches, but the terminal bud has opened up to reveal many fresh, green leaves. There are many healthy looking lateral buds as well. I haven't spotted any aphids, so I'm a bit puzzled as to why the ants would choose to hang out on the buds. Should I be concerned about these ants? The last thing I want to do is disturb them in case they've got some symbiotic thing going with my Arbutus. Any insight would be much appreciated.