Catching pests

I have several fruit trees which I love very dearly: two old, old cherries; two apples; two walnuts; hundreds of plum trees; a crab-apple; a fig; four peach trees; a pear tree, and a quince. And probably some more I’ve forgotten.

However, with this year’s bumper blossom and potential fruit, the ants are out in force and it’s been driving me wild watching their little ant armies race up and down the tree trunks. I mean, what are they even doing??! Apparently, they’re potentially bringing all kinds of nasty infestations to my dear trees.

So, I decided it had to stop.

I’m not a fan of killing things with pesticides and I didn’t really fancy giving the tree a hose down with something to stop all the anty festivities, so I thought I would buy some sticky tape. Apparently, this works in a similar fashion to flypaper, that odious but useful stuff that enables me to live in a buzz-free zone without zapping the bastards with Raid every so often.

Anyway, I bought myself an organic, environmentally-friendly tree tape to stop the ant processions. I should have known it would be a disaster. Anything involving me and glue is a disaster. It was inevitable.

Imagine, if you will, a cross Mancunian with strips of tree tape hanging from each of her limbs. It got stuck to my hands, stuck to my hair, stuck to my face.

It gets worse.

The glue is kind of waterproof, so I was left, once I’d pulled off the sticky tape, with a clingy, gluey residue that soap and water and even white spirit find nigh-on impossible to remove.

Not only that, I soon worked out the problem with the tape. The bark isn’t flat, so there are bumps and channels underneath it, which any crafty ant will be able to figure out. You kind of secure it with elastic, but it loosens as you are tying the knot in it and so you are left with something that may or may not make the blindest bit of difference.

I’d be interested to hear from anyone who uses this and whether or not you think it makes a difference.

Of course, a part of me thinks ants are clever and will crawl underneath it in tunnels. Or eat into the bark or something. Another part of me watched them avoid running on to it this evening and come to a dead-end. They run on to the paper a little and then decide not to bother and run off.

So far, though, the only thing to get stuck to the paper is me.

Hopefully, it won’t stop all the other healthy things that come and feast on the bugs that the ants are herding. I just saw a photograph of an ant biting a ladybird’s legs and it was nasty. Those ants are not nice creatures. They remind me of the Morlocks in The Time Machine. 

I do wish I’d watched this guy first.

I’m going to be fascinated to see if the ants make little bridges. If my tape doesn’t work, I’ll be trying this guy’s method with the elastic tape and the paste. Tomorrow, I’ll be looking for little anty bridges. Those little beggars better have found something else to feast on, and it better not be my seeds or seedling.

Grrr.

Gardening is a constant battle against creatures. But trying to pick something that encourages the good beasts and discourages the bad beasts is hard work. Mostly, I don’t mind a bit of damage, and companion planting and rotation seems to be working so far, but there’s little I can plant to stop the ant march.

All I need to do now is wait for all this glue to come off me. Maybe I should just go and roll about in the garden and see what I can attract?

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6 thoughts on “Catching pests

  1. Pests are such a bummer. My daughter was complaining yesterday that she had an ant army in the (old) house, attracted by the sweet hyacinth bulbs since she cut the foliage off… ugh. We have bad memories of ants in our old house and it’s good motivation for spring cleaning!

    And I am very sad because the dreaded Asian box pest (no idea what its name is in anything but German!) has reached my garden and my beloved box balls, most of which I spent 15 years growing and trimming to the size they are now in 3 different gardens – can’t afford to replace those in a hurry 😦 One that is a bit separate has only just got the caterpillars and we’re rushing to get rid of them before it goes the same way as the others, such a bummer, they’re very fast munchers. I don’t think this pest has reached France or England, yet (only since 2009 here) but it will be a nightmare when it does…

  2. Interesting about the tape… the paint on stuff is no better, it worked for about two days and then they just walked over it!!! Elizabeth gets ant bite regularly and they come up in bumps… Nasty little creatures… We are going to attack the nests with ant killer…

  3. do the ants do any harm? i’m merican. which makes us decidedly dangerous. if they ain’t hurten nothen, leave em alone. if you piss em off they may move in your house. i used to have aunts that were a royal pain. i moved. then i out lived em. peaceup. billy

    1. You’re right, I guess. I’d almost prefer they lived in my house though than on my fruit trees! And there are just so many that if I don’t restrict their food sources, my garden will become a fantastic spot for even more ants.

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