Thursday, July 7, 2011

Peaches, Ants, and Tanglefoot

I've been keeping a close eye on my Redhaven peach tree for the past few days because it's almost peach time. The ants know this too. They've been climbing the trunk and working their way into limbs and fruit. I noticed a gouge in one of the peaches and saw an ant crawl out of the hole. Then a few more crawled out. Apparently ants are camera-shy because I only caught one with the camera, but I promise there were many more.

Ant and damage to a Redhaven peach.
Being a territorial guy who is not known for sharing very well, I decided it was time to take action rather than lose my precious peaches to the ants. At the recommendation of a few wise people, I broke out the Tanglefoot rather than really nasty chemicals.

A tub of Tanglefoot (center), stretchy paper wrap (right), and insecticidal soap (left) to deal with my ant invasion.
Tanglefoot is a really sticky goo that you "paint" around the trunk of a tree. Ants hate the stuff and get stuck if they step in it, hence the name Tanglefoot. It's not recommended to paint the Tanglefoot directly on the trunk so I wrapped it very tightly with a stretchy paper with cotton beneath it to make sure that ants couldn't walk through a small opening. Then I took a small scoop and lathered it on the paper. Within seconds, the steady stream of ants that had previously used my tree trunk as a superhighway to peaches were in a traffic jam of chaos.

Tanglefoot wrap around the lower portion of the trunk of my Redhaven peach.   Notice the ants trapped above the Tanglefoot.  They aren't happy.  Actually, the least happy ant is the one who is trapped in the upper right portion of the goo.  
It proved very effective. Those going up the tree stopped and turned around. The others located above the Tanglefoot hiked all around the trunk looking for a way down. You're probably thinking, "What about the ants in the picture? They are above the Tanglefoot and still have access to the peaches." That is correct, but I used a few sprays of insecticidal soap to get rid of them.

We had LOTS of rain the day after I applied the Tanglefoot, but the goo stayed in place. I may need to reapply if we get more rain, but I found it very useful as non-toxic alternative to spraying loads of poison and chemicals over the entire tree to deal with the insects. Now i just need to keep an eye open for aerial invaders!

p.s. Happy Birthday to my recently-retired Dad.


Stefaneener said...

I use Tanglefoot to protect my beehives. Terrific stuff, really. But don't get it in your hair or on a really special raincoat. . .

.09 Acres said...

Stefaneener, do the ants go after the honey, or do they harm the bees? I imagine they love the sweet taste of honey!