Do I have Carpenter Ants, Spiders, or Both?

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Do I have Carpenter Ants, Spiders, or Both?

Post  bilbo on Sat May 13, 2017 11:30 pm

I can't figure these little blighters out.

I've seen a few proper spiders on some of my trees and didn't freak out because I figured A) they're potentially keeping other pests at bay, and B) you can't really fight spiders in Texas, they're all over, everywhere.

However, now I'm noticing something either more, or different and I think it's getting out of hand.

For sure, I have proper spider webs in some spots, with classic circular web patterns and if I watch long enough, I can see the spiders.

Mist added for better visibility

But now I'm seeing on my Cedrus atlantica and some of my Ponderosa Pine, webs which are far more dense and not of a traditional circular pattern.
Additionally confusing are, I don't see any sign of captured prey, and they don't seem to be bothering anything noticeably (yet anyway).
(Again, spray mist added for better visibility in the bright sun)

So yeah, CLEARLY it needs to go, but the question becomes, how and when.
I don't want to remove these webs and inadvertently make thinks worse by having the critters dig in deeper or harder.
So, I think i need to kill them first, what ever they are, they need to go.

With that in mind, I staked out the cluster webs this morning and the only bugs I could see in and around the cluster webs were very very small.
On the one hand, they look like black ants, but ants don't make webs.
I've seen black ants this small before, but they're thin also.
These guys are very short, maybe 2mm at most, but they are also thicker than normal black ants from Texas.

For purposes of scale, I actually plucked that dead Blue Atlas Cedar needle you see next to the ant and it measured a little less than 1mm wide at its widest spot.

So, these guys are very tiny indeed.
I could add here that these guys are incredibly difficult to photograph.
Auto Focus? forget it.
And they don't just sit around and pose for me.
They are active, and they move quickly and I had the focus set all the way in and it took 96 shots to get just the few decent ones you see here.

So, before any of you are tempted to post "Duh Bilbo, those are ants", I get it, they totally look like ants to me also.
But notice in the profile shot, the middle of the thorax is not thin and spindly like the common black carpenter ant and I don't see any clearly defined mandibles.
Ah yeah, did I happen to mention: yeah, ants don't make webs!

Now, I have read there are some small spiders that trick ants into thinking they're ants by using their front legs to look like antennae.
However, it seems beneficial to insert here, I have NOT seen any of these tiny ant looking creatures actually on the webs.

Also, it turns out there are some variety of black ants whose larva can make silk, but from what I've read, not on this scale and not in this way.
However, with that in mind, I did find what looks like it might be a larva in one of the webs (I have not seen any of the mature bugs actually travel on the webs)

So, while I'm curious to know what these critters are, it may not matter in order to kill them.

If they're ants, they're some species of Black Ant, and I imagine basic ant poison should kill them, but will it injure my trees?
And, where are they nesting?  Most black ants are carpenter ants I see zero sign of wood munching going on and besides, these are Cedrus and Pinus!?!?
What ants will eat Cedrus or Pinus?

On the other hand, if they're some obscure sort of spider, what insecticide should I use for them which also will not injure my trees?

Or, if there is some odd coincidence where three types of bugs are calling my conifers home, what then?
I don't see any beetles or worms so what is going on here?

Any insights here will be certainly appreciated.


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Re: Do I have Carpenter Ants, Spiders, or Both?

Post  bilbo on Sun May 21, 2017 9:19 pm

So, I decided to treat as if Ants + Mites although mites on Pinus and Cedrus is news to me.

I used:
Bayer Advanced ß-Cyfluthrin 2.5% for the Ants and,
Bayer Advanced Tau-Fluvalinate .61% / Tebuconazole .65% for the mites

Both are supposedly safe for trees, so we'll see what happens.
I know I've seen a lot of dead bugs and so far no damage to the trees.


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