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  1. #1
    Elite Member
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    Default Saving a Maple tree

    I have 2 large silver maples in my yard, and one is pretty badly infested with what I think are carpenter ants. I would like to get rid of them and save the tree but am unsure how to do it. Last year I saw quite a few of them going into and out of the tree about 10 feet up and there are a lot of holes there. I guess I should have done something sooner, as it seems they have been there a while since inspecting the tree further. Now there are some dead branches, one large branch and several smaller ones. I want to cut off the dead branches now, but am not sure if I should do it in the middle of the summer. I have been told to only prune trees in the late fall/ winter, but I think that is for live branches. Since these are already dead, would it be okay to cut them off now? Should I spray anything on the opening where they are cut off?

    Also what is the best way to get rid of the ants? I don't see them at ground level so I am not sure stakes and such would work. I like the tree and don't have a lot of large trees, so I hate to give it up, but I also don't want the ants getting into the other trees... maybe they are already and just haven't done enough damage yet for me to see. If I need to cut down the tree and burn it I will, but would like to avoid that.

  2. #2
    Elite Member SPIKER's Avatar
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    Default Re: Saving a Maple tree

    first treat tree with ant killer all around the base, they are coming in and out and onto the ground to forage.

    If you buy some Borax "Sodium Terta-Borate" (20-Mule team laundry detergent/additive) and bait them with that.

    Use the Borax and mix in bait (use hot dog or baloney) and mash them together like slimy putty. (NOTE Spring and early summer they like Protein in summer & fall Sweets/Fruits.)

    Use a empty butter dish/small plastic tub, cut 4 small triangle Vs at bottom and bend out so only 4 small openings at the bottom the V that is bent out forms a small ramp for them to crawl into the container and keeps other critters out. You can then either screw the container to the tree near where they are coming and going a lot. The lid can be popped off and more bait added as they take it into nest.

    After a while they find and eat/carry the mix into the tree/nest & kills them about as good as any commercial killer and has 0 environmental problems.

    In mid summer and Fall they prefer sweets and fruits as a mix base, I use cheap Jelly. I did this a week ago to a ANT HILL and today looks 90% of the mix was gone and I saw 0 ant activity!

    Just be sure to remove the screw once the nest is dead, would not want to hit it with saw blade later... also dont use Brass, good ole steel or galv.

    Cutting off dead limbs now is OK, they are dead BUT be aware if you dont fix ant issue the rest of tree is probably not going to have happy ending...

    Mark
    I may remember why I went to the other end of the shop, I'm just afraid once I get there I'll forget how to get back!

  3. #3
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    Default

    Thanks Mark, I will have to try the borax. It's cheap enough so what have I got to lose?

  4. #4
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    Default

    Oh yeah, about the butter tub... are you saying to hang it sideways on the tree or hang it from the side with the holes down?

  5. #5
    Elite Member SPIKER's Avatar
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    Default Re: Saving a Maple tree

    Quote Originally Posted by mikehaugen View Post
    Oh yeah, about the butter tub... are you saying to hang it sideways on the tree or hang it from the side with the holes down?
    Sideways is fine, maybe so rain can't get into it only put 3 holes on lower side. I put mine flat on ant hill and at first didn't stake it down. The DOG decided it looked fun to play with... :/ So I used a old alum gutter spike to hold it in place & scolded dog so he left it alone.

    Not sure if the height is easy to get to for your ant hole in the tree. but somewhere just under it where you see them traveling put it so opening is right in-line with their path.

    this also works for Yellow Jackets I'm told but HANG it on stick above or near their nest with holes slightly larger for them to get into.

    Mark
    I may remember why I went to the other end of the shop, I'm just afraid once I get there I'll forget how to get back!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Saving a Maple tree

    I could be wrong, but if the ants are working the tree it's a sign of an underlying problem. Silver maples just aren''t that long lived and if you've been seeing holes made by insects than the truth is tbat it's probably on it's way out.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Saving a Maple tree

    Quote Originally Posted by mikehaugen View Post
    I have 2 large silver maples in my yard, and one is pretty badly infested with what I think are carpenter ants. I would like to get rid of them and save the tree but am unsure how to do it. Last year I saw quite a few of them going into and out of the tree about 10 feet up and there are a lot of holes there. I guess I should have done something sooner, as it seems they have been there a while since inspecting the tree further. Now there are some dead branches, one large branch and several smaller ones. I want to cut off the dead branches now, but am not sure if I should do it in the middle of the summer. I have been told to only prune trees in the late fall/ winter, but I think that is for live branches. Since these are already dead, would it be okay to cut them off now? Should I spray anything on the opening where they are cut off?

    Also what is the best way to get rid of the ants? I don't see them at ground level so I am not sure stakes and such would work. I like the tree and don't have a lot of large trees, so I hate to give it up, but I also don't want the ants getting into the other trees... maybe they are already and just haven't done enough damage yet for me to see. If I need to cut down the tree and burn it I will, but would like to avoid that.
    Cut the dead limbs off soon. Dead branches will just attract more insects. Then seal the cuts with spray-on pruning seal. It's quite likely that the heartwood of the trees is pretty much gone, due to the ants. Which means that the tree is not far from dying. That said, silver maples can hold on a long time, dying one branch at a time. Typically, silver maples grow quickly and do not live as long as their cousins, sugar- and red maples.

    Are there any woodpecker holes in the trees? If there are, I would cut them down and replant.


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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Saving a Maple tree

    Silver Maples rank as the number one worst tree to have in your yard next to your house.

    I believe it as I have 7 of them that are probably in the 50 to 70 year old range.

    I have been in maintenance mode on these beasts for the last ten years. Ants, squirrel, wood peckers and infinite variety of birds, and the occassional hornets nest make their way into the trees.

    The are magnificent, beautiful, dangerous and generally a pain in my wallet.

    If your looking at a dead branch, take if off before Mother Natures does it for you.

  9. #9
    Super Star Member LD1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Saving a Maple tree

    I would rank walnuts as about the worst to have around the house. Especially if it is on a hillside lawn

    As to the ants, I am afraid others are right that the tree is on its way out. It may last a few more years though, but now is the time to get some replacement trees started and established.

    For the ants, dont use the ant spray that kills them in seconds. That does no good for the colony. The borax is good, but "grants" is the brand ant killer I use and like. Same basic ingredients as the borax mix. Kills them slowly so they infest the whole nest and queen. They make ant stakes to put around your house. I think a box of like 6 of them is only a few bucks. Perhaps put a few of them at the base of the tree, and some up in the tree laying on branches or whatnot.

    I still have a few left. I quit using them though cause the dog would go around the house and eat them all
    ".........there is only one way to find out."
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Saving a Maple tree

    Quote Originally Posted by Jstpssng View Post
    I could be wrong, but if the ants are working the tree it's a sign of an underlying problem. Silver maples just aren''t that long lived and if you've been seeing holes made by insects than the truth is tbat it's probably on it's way out.
    I tend to agree. The ants are more than likely a symptom, not a cause.

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