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Location: South Texas

Ants and spots! I am a total newbie.


I live in south Texas, and I'm attempting to start a high density orchard in my back yard. We have nothing but clay in my back yard, so currently everything is in pots while we get plant beds made for each particular group of plants. I'm sure some may be familiar with the uncharacteristic rain we've had over the last month. Before this rain all of our plants seemed just fine. Now that the rain has stopped for the past week we've had a chance to get out and look at our plants again. We've noticed that our male kiwi, blueberry, and fig have spots where others do not. Our strawberry has all but completely died, and our fruit trees are crawling with ants. Can anyone help point us in the right direction so we don't lose these plants? :(


Male kiwi



I'm especially worried about the blueberry and strawberries. :( Any help is appreciated!!!
Zone 8

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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:32 am
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Ants and spots! I am a total newbie.

When you have a lot of rain and then humid days that follow when everything dries up, it creates the perfect conditions for fungal growth. I think I see rust on the fig. The blueberry also looks like some kind of fungal disease. Strawberries are also prone to fungal problems and especially do not like overly wet soils.

The leaves can be removed from the fig and thrown away.

I cannot help you with the blueberry. They are difficult to grow in zone 12a as they need very acidic soil and I can only grow very warm tolerant cultivars.

Ants come into the house when their nests floods and when it is hot and dry and out again when there are a lot of new growth on plants. They will farm aphids, scale and other sucking insects. I control them with ant bait, but I have given up trying to eradicate. Ants are not totally bad bugs but they are a nuisance and some of them can inflict painful bites.

Ants are predator and prey since they eat the eggs of many insects and serve as food for birds, lizards, and other beneficial insects. Their tunnels aerate the soil and allow water and nutrients to flow directly to the plant roots. They also distribute seeds by storing them in their tunnels.

The bad news is that ants can protect honeydew-producing, sucking insects that do a great deal of damage. If you manage your ant populations, you will be closer to managing scale, mealybug, aphid, and white fly populations in the garden.

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Green Thumb
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Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:19 pm
Location: Pacific NW

Re: Ants and spots! I am a total newbie.

on the trees with lots of ants, check to see if the underside of the leaves are covered in aphids, ants will go to great lengths to protect them. If you see aphids on a dry warm to hot day spray down the leaves top and bottom with insecticidal soap. Be sure there is plenty of time for the tree to dry out. You may have to do it again in 8-10 days. We had so much drizzle for about 10 days this spring that I am fighting this on the latter developing leaves on some of my cherry trees. on the male kiwi, they tend to be quite hardy actually and actually like lots of water. From the picture it doesn't seem to be in any real distress. The blueberry sprinkle a little sulfur around it. Keep it out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. Keep it well watered. Destroy all the leaves when they fall and then you will have to wait to see how compromised it really is in the spring. Sorry, but from pictures alone it is impossible to tell just how compromised that plant really is. In the spring if you are trying to keep it, get it in the ground late winter or early spring. Do not fertilize it that first year and place sulfur around it every 6-8 weeks until early fall. I don't mean cover it I mean like you would place commercial fertilizer around a plant rather sparingly. Mulch it well in the spring with something like sawdust, pine needles or something else acidic. At that point if it grows, keep it well hydrated clear through the fall. If a few of the branches look dead after the rest leaves out carefully cut them off. On the fig try potting it up, it could also be root bound. If it starts to strangle in the pot it will die. That is why when people try to grow them in really big pots they eventually die. The fig is actually a herb and are often quite forgiving. I have seen then die back to the ground and come back up from the root system the next year when planted in the ground. The most important thing is to try to keep the root system happy at this point. What to do about the spots that is more problematic. Don't pick off all the leaves, if you take some off I would only take off the very worst. If that strawberry already bore fruit this year, you might be ok. Strawberries are a strange lot. Sometimes even if you do everything right some of the new plants don't make it to the following year. Even experienced strawberry growers will end up with bare spots in the rows from time to time.

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