About 2 year ago, I had a large (3-ft diameter trunk) ant-infested locust
tree taken down from my front lawn. Now, two years, later, there are
literally hundreds of locust trees growing all over the yard.
I presume this is from the root system that was left after the tree was
removed. I am trying to figure out what to do. Roundup does no good at all
on these things (it kills it, but it also kills all the grass around it).
Any suggestions on what to do to eliminate the problem?
My roommate did his Ph.D. thesis on leaf-cutter ants. They are pretty
surprising. They only cut certain kinds of leaves, and they cut off
crescent-moon-shaped pieces, which they take back to the ant hill, and
feed to the ?? bigger than bacteria, maybe fungus, and the fungus
grows and the ants eat the fungus, not the leaves. They are little
farmers. And they have a garbage pile at one exit to the hill where
they pile, not sure what, the parts of the leaves that the fungus
won't eat, or the parts of the fungus that the ants won't eat. I
think it is the first of these.
Anyhow, it can be observed that the ants won't cut off all the leaves
on a bush. Maybe it is only a third before they go on to a new bush.
Sometimes the trail from the anthill to the bush is very long, and you
can watch them going out empty on one trail, and each coming back with
a piece of leaf in his mouth on a trail a half-inch away.
So as some sort of a control, he thought they should remove the leaves
from one or two similar bushes and see how it did. How to do this as
much like an ant would as possible? Can't use herbicides, that's for
sure. He and his fiancee did it by hand, picking each leaf off of
bushes so high they needed a 6 foot ladder to do the whole bush. They
did every leaf, and like you say, it grew the leaves back, though not
quite as many iirc. Then they picked off every leaf again. The
second time, I think it only managed to generate a few leaves. And I
think after the third time it was dead.
So it's pretty clear that if the ants didn't "know" enough to go on to
another bush, they'd kill bushes, ruin their habitat and have to move
the whole hill, which is a lot of effort, especially since I think the
queen is too heavy to move.
I don't remember what kind of bush, but I'm sure it wasn't a locust
This was in Costa Rica, on the central plain, where it was warm all
year, and plenty of sunlight. I think this part only took 2 to 4
months. He was there a year. A whole "ranch" set up for grad
students and other researchers. Sort of like a motel, with a room for
each of them, and a central dining room for 3 meals a day.
It is true that the lawn gets mowed, but these "trees" grow at a rate of
three or four times the grass growth rate. so in order to have a reasonable
looking lawn, I'd have to mow three or four times a often.
What a mess.
Cut the bottom off a plastic gallon bottle and also cut a slit from
the bottom to the lid. Throw the cap away. Use this as a shield to
spray your RoundUp. Or you can use a cellulose sponge dipped in
RoundUp (made with 1 part concentrate, 3 parts water) and rubber
gloves. Make sure all the leaves are wet with the solution and do the
application on a dry sunny day. They will die in 2 to 6 days.
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