ants on serviceberry trees

Asked March 23, 2019, 6:32 PM EDT

I have black ants all over my service berry trees which I planted last fall. they appear to like the opening flowering parts. I am in the Pacific Northwest.

Kitsap County Washington trees and shrubs

1 Response

Thank you for your question,

I'm not sure if the ants are damaging the flowers on your service berry, or if they are perhaps harvesting nectar or something else sugary. Most of the time, ants do not damage trees, but may be found there for a couple of reasons.

Most common is that they are drawn to 'honeydew' which is dropped on the plants when a sucking-type pest, like aphids or scale, is feeding. The pests secrete this sugary waste product and the ants feed on it. The ants would not damage your plant, but the feeding insect might, if the population is high enough. The ants might also be feeding on nectar produced by the flowers to attract pollinators.

Carpenter ants will climb trees if they have established a colony in an area of decay. Newly planted service berry trees would not be large enough for this; they are usually found in mature large species, so this seems very unlikely.

If the trees appear to be damaged (missing flower parts, chewing damage to leaves or stems) then there might be something else going on that has drawn the ants. I believe that they are not harming your trees, and you don't need to take any action, however it's always a good idea to monitor the situation.

If you have any questions, please let me know and I'll do my best to answer them. If you think the trees are being damaged, you can upload a picture of the damage, or take a sample to your local Extension office.