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Lemon tree and ants

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  • Lemon tree and ants

    Hi all,

    Wonder if you can help? My wife has a lemon tree which appears to have a bit of a problem with ants. I've noticed quite a quite a few of them on the leaves. I've done the obligatory Google search on this and I've sprayed them off and I've tried the trick of crushing mint leaves around the base of the tree. That doesn't appear to be working.

    Is there anything else I can look at doing? My concern is that the ants might have actually nested in the pot itself - bot 100% sure how I check that but that is my gut feeling on this. Should I perhaps think about repotting the tree, just to be safe? Or, is it too late in the year to repot and will that perhaps do further damage? The tree itself seems to be in good condition. I can see seven small fruits.

    Any help that you might be able to provide would be very much appreciated.

    Many thanks, kind regards and stay safe,
    Marbles

  • #2
    I'd knock it out of the pot now and refresh the compost while I was at it - obviously best to do this outside if you can as its bound to be messy. Chances are the ants have set up residence in the pot. Watch out for them crawling up inside your clothes - not as painful as a bee sting but still not pleasant.

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    • #3
      Ants won't do any harm to the tree itself, not even by nesting in the pot. If anything, they will improve drainage.
      They are likely there because the tree has another pest which the ants are interested in, likely either scale insect or aphids, both of which exude honeydew.

      If the ants are causing a nuisance elsewhere and you really want rid of them, your best bet is to by an ant bait station. These contain bait (sugar) treated with a slow-acting poison. The ants take the bait back to their nest, and it kills the whole nest.

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      • #4
        Ants spread pests most often scale insects on citrus.
        They are unlikely to kill the tree as the pests stick to it.
        The good thing is that citrus plants have tough enough leaves that you can get pests off with high pressure water.
        Ants will kill plants if the pests do not stick when they put them on.
        The only way I know of getting ants out of a pot is to enclose the pot in a plastic bag and pump it full of crawling insect spray and let it soak for a couple of hours. Don't leave the bag on for too long though.

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        • #5
          I’ve never known ants to kill a plant,they like farming aphids for their honeydew,are scale insects easy to see,do they need scraping off or can you squirt them with garlic water & they fall off?

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          • #6
            I have seen ants infest a black currant to the point that it was half dead.
            When the aphids do not stick I have had a potted tree die completely due to them removing all of the soil.
            I have lost a courgette plant killed by ants removing the soil from under the roots and using it to cover the leaves. It was under frost a guard.

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