Ants in Palm Trees
Having palm trees in your home or outside in your garden is one of the best ways to bring an air of exotic luxury. However, ants might invade your palm trees and lead to an infestation that is hard to control. While not all ants will damage palm trees, it’s best to address infestations ahead of time to avoid having ants invade your home.
Is it Normal to See Ants in Palm Trees?
Many people will notice ants invading their palm trees, especially during the hot summer, using the trees as bridges to enter the home. You might see a colony living within the tree or traveling up and down the bark of the palm tree.
If you have indoor potted palm trees, you might also notice ants crawling around the tree trunk and on the leaves near the pot’s base. While it’s normal to see ants traveling and crawling on your trees sometimes, certain ants, such as fire ants, need to be neutralized as soon as possible.
What Types of Ants in Palm Trees?
Various ants are attracted to palm trees, including:
These large black ants might seem threatening, but they pose no real threat to humans or palm trees. However, they can be a nuisance, and they tend to burrow in damaged trees where moisture has caused the wood to deteriorate. Carpenter ants are one of the most common species in the United States, so this might be the culprit if you see ants in your palm trees indoors or outside.
Fire ants can threaten humans and injure young trees and animals through painful stings. Fire ants have been known to lurk in palm tree shipments from Florida and possibly other states. It’s always a good idea to quarantine your nursery plants and ensure they are safe from fire ants and other pests before introducing them into your garden.
Argentine ants are another common ant native to South America but now readily found in the United States. Argentine ants are found anywhere Aphids are found, including some damaged and infested palm trees.
What Attracts Ants to Palm Trees?
There are many different reasons you might see ants in palm trees. As you can see from the types of ants that infest your palm tree, the reasons for infestation differ from species to species.
For instance, fire ants and carpenter ants are attracted to other insects, so you will see them affecting palm trees with active insect infestations. Some insects that could attract ants include:
Aphids and Scales
Since these are sap-producing insects that produce honeydew, which is then consumed by carpenter ants, argentine ants, and fire ants alike. This sap does not damage the tree, but the continued feeding of pests on your palm tree does. If you see ants on your palm tree, you will likely have bigger problems, such as aphids and scales.
Weevils are known to invade palm trees and cause devastating damage. Fortunately, fire ants are a known predator of the weevil and provide excellent pest control measures. Unfortunately, fire ants also cause damage to humans and animals, so they must be dealt with as soon as possible.
Roaches are known to linger in the moist leaves or moisture-damaged parts of palm trees. Ants can also feast on cockroaches and help control their population on palm trees.
In addition to finding insects, ants might use your palm tree as a bridge to climb from their nest into your home. For instance, if your palm tree leads to your kitchen window, it might be easier for ants to travel from their nest inside the palm tree to your kitchen and back.
Moisture damage to your palm tree, cuts, scars, and rot can also lead to ant infestations. Carpenter and argentine ants might see this damage on your palm tree as an opportunity to burrow in the soft bark.
Fire ants also have unique attractions to palm trees. If your palm tree provides lots of shade due to its long leaves, many fire ants might want to form a mound in the soil around your palm tree. They will usually move away when the temperatures have cooled or when there are no more pests to feed on. In the meantime, however, fire ants, carpenter ants, and argentine ants can be a nuisance to your property and even be dangerous.
How to Get Rid of Ants in Palm Trees
As mentioned earlier, if you see ants in your palm tree, you will likely have a pest problem such as Aphids, weevils, or cockroaches. The best way to get rid of ants in palm trees is to contact a local exterminator. You might also be able to control pests with borax or other similar remedies.
If you have fire ants, this is a more severe issue. Some popular methods to eliminate fire ants include pouring hot water into their mounds. You might also have luck injecting fire ant insecticide into the mound under your palm tree. Injecting this insecticide into the palm tree can help kill the ants inside the mound and prevent them from invading your trees.
You can also try to lay bait traps around the nest. Ant bait traps contain a sweet liquid, similar to honeydew sap, which the ants then take to their queen in their colony. The colony dies off as all the ants are exposed to the bait. Most bat traps work within 24 hours but ensure they are located in a dry spot of soil near your potted tree for maximum effectiveness.
If DIY remedies are not working, you should contact a pest control professional as soon as possible.
Most ants won’t pose a direct threat to your palm trees. However, they can be a nuisance and cause more damage, such as burrowing into damaged wood and worsening cuts and wood damage. Some ants, like fire ants, are also dangerous to your health and should be taken care of swiftly. If you’re unsure of how to proceed with ant control measures, call an expert for help.
Learn more about other pests that can be found in palm trees:
Do Palm Trees Attract Scorpions