Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

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
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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 Trees Questions

Planting a redbud in VA
April 20, 2011 - What is the best time of year to plant Redbud (Cercis canadensis)in Burke, VA, 22152 - fall or spring or does it matter? And is there a certain size tree that is best to purchase for greatest chance o...
view the full question and answer

Should I use wound paint when pruning my live oak tree?
February 04, 2010 - When trimming live oak branches, is it best to coat the wound on the tree? I have been doing this but have recently heard that it can actually be bad for the tree.
view the full question and answer

Pruning Spruce Pine (Prunus glabra)
September 02, 2015 - I have a Pinus glabra/spruce pine that is approx. 7' tall. It's limbs are few and some have been broken. Will trimming back the longer limbs to give it a Christmas shape harm this tree?
view the full question and answer

Small tree for container near pool in Houston
June 24, 2010 - Can you recommend a small tree that I can grow in a pot for shade? Looking for minimal mess because it will be near the pool. How big should the pot be?
view the full question and answer

Replacements for Ashe Junipers in Georgetown, TX
November 03, 2012 - We have cut down several cedar trees on our property in Williamson County Texas. We would like to replace the cedar trees with another variety of tree. Do you have recommendations for what type of t...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.