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I have a seedling Cherry Blossom tree, less than a meter high, and 3 years old.

Every year, carpenter ants infest it, and start farming Aphids on the leaves.

The leaves curl up, and the tree is severely damaged.

I tried spraying it with dish soap.

How can I can get rid of both ants and aphids, for once and for all?

UPDATE: Borax ant killer, spray jet, dish-liquid, nothing seems to work. Both ants and aphids are there in abundance. I am now close to uprooting the tree and throwing it away. It draws too many pests, and some of the ants try to make it into my home. What is the heaviest duty counter measure for this?

aphids on leaf

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I’ll note that the ants are only there because of the aphids. I’d recommend you focus on the removal of the aphids. Once the aphids are gone, the ants will leave.

If you can refrain from spraying chemicals in your garden, you might find that predator insects arrive to solve the aphid problem for you.

The main issue with this is the waiting. Predator insects in my experience usually take 7-14 days to arrive on the scene after the problem insect has begun its damaging activities.

While you wait there are a number of actions that you can take that will greatly assist.

If you have only one or a few trees, you could try any one or a combination of the following:

  • every 2-3 days, wash the aphids from the plant using a hose with a jet-like spray pattern;
  • prepare a homemade batch of chilli spray (soak chillies in water with a small amount of dishwashing liquid) and apply using a spray bottle - the detergent breaks the surface tension of water and the chemicals from the chillies are disliked by most sap-sucking insects;
  • on the worst affected stems/ branches, run your finger along to literally brush as many of the aphids off.

This last action also has the added bonus of leaving the smell of dead aphids on the branches, which I have found works better than anything, with the exception of a sustained hoverfly attack.

We attribute the very low damage from aphids in our garden this year to three factors:

  • we refrained from spraying any chemicals (including the relatively innocent “white oil”);
  • we enjoyed a constant hoverfly presence in our garden - the hoverfly lays its eggs near the aphids and the resulting larvae voraciously consume the aphids;
  • we planted a number of sacrificial flowers near plants we wanted to protect, including Calendula and Cosmos - the aphids tend to gravitate towards these plants.
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    I do not agree with the initial assumption: I think aphids are there because there are ants. So I would try to remove also ants (e.g. glue paper on trunk). For best results, you should fight both. Ants will care of aphids (because aphids will indirectly produce food for ants) – Giacomo Catenazzi May 8 '19 at 7:57
  • @GiacomoCatenazzi maybe you could put your suggestions in an answer? My answer is based on two factors... 1. I have years of experience managing aphid infestations and in my experience, ants are not present in any significant quantities unless there is an aphid infestation. 2. As the OP writes... “Ants are farming aphids...”. Scientifically it is well established that ants literally farm aphids - a symbiotic relationship - in which ants protect the aphid colony and in return harvest a sugary extraction as a food source. – andrewbuilder May 8 '19 at 8:07
  • I totally agree with you about your two points (and most of your answer). Just if you fight also ant, the aphids will die earlier. Watering the curled leaves is not always simple, especially the new ones, and watering has (as far I know) more effect on ant: by removing sugar. So I would just recommend fight both to get best results. – Giacomo Catenazzi May 8 '19 at 8:14

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