Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - September 05, 2013

From: sunfield, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Tree Lost Leaves
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Are leaf cutter ants found in Michigan too? My leaves are being completely stripped off the tree. It went from growing very well when we planted it, to having completely no leaves at all. I know the leaves are not falling off and we do have a fence around it.

ANSWER:

Leafcutter ants are not as far north as Michigan and you would see them at work on your trees if they were present. Wikipedia.com says that leafcutter ants, a non-generic name, are any of 47 species of leaf-chewing ants belonging to the two genera Atta and Acromyrmex. These species of tropical, fungus-growing ants are all endemic to South and Central America, Mexico and parts of the southern United States.  Leafcutter ants "cut and process fresh vegetation (leaves, flowers, and grasses) to serve as the nutritional substrate for their fungal cultivars." There is a map of the present range of leaf cutter ants from Ant Genera of the World.

Other possible reasons for your leaves being stripped from the tree include: strong jets of water (forceful sprinklers), squirrels in the fall taking leaves and branches for their fall nests (they love oaks), hail, a major insect invasion (gypsy moths, grasshoppers, Japanese beetles, deer, etc.), leafcutter bees (perfect circles cut out of the leaf) or an environmental issue (water, drought, heat, frost) that caused the leaves to all fall rapidly – even overnight.

If you think that the leaf drop is compromising the health of your tree, an arborist should be consulted or seek advice from the Michigan State University, Department of Horticulture.

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Why did my Prairie Flax plant die in Austin, TX?
April 27, 2012 - Hello, We planted 4 prairie flax last fall in garden. They were all growing nicely until last month when I found that one of them has completely dried up and died. The plants are planted together a...
view the full question and answer

Natural lifespan of wild plum trees
May 12, 2008 - We have a small border of Wild Plum Trees in our yard. Every year it seem that one or two of the biggest trees die. Do they have a specific life span? We transplanted the trees/bushes from the panh...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of oak wilt in red oak in Austin
December 25, 2010 - I planted a Red oak tree in Austin January 2008. It was container grown but decent size, over 15ft tall. This summer (2010) its leaves turned color as if it were fall and started dropping. I starte...
view the full question and answer

Live oak trees with rusty spots and holes on tree trunks
September 21, 2011 - I have live oak trees that have developed rusty spots, small holes on the tree trunks and sawdust on the trees base. They were planted in Oct 2010. We have had a hot dry summer in Texas this year an...
view the full question and answer

Distressed Red Oak tree in Pflugerville, TX.
July 22, 2012 - I have a large (40 ft) Red Oak tree in my yard that is distressed. It started with yellowing leaves, with darker veins. Then small brown spots appeared, followed by browning arount the leaves edges. N...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.