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Ants on cherry tree but no aphids....

We have got a dwarf cherry tree and it is growing well, however, we have noticed ants are really interested in these red nodules on the stems of the leaves. There don't appear to be any aphids and we have treated it just in case but the ants still come back and carry on. Two questions from a complete novice are : 1) what are these red things on the stems and 2) what are the ants doing/ is it harming the tree? 
Thank you for any help given as I've scoured the internet and asked as many people as i can but to no avail.


  • They're (extrafloral) nectar glands, natural and normal for a cherry tree to produce and insects will be drawn to them for the sugary content.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    Agree with H-C.  It is thought many plants and trees evolved these to actually attract ants (and other predators) and they may even manipulate ant behaviour through hormones in the nectar.  While some ants will 'farm' aphids and so cause damage, other ant species attack caterpillars and other damaging insects to protect their food source (these nectar glands) so are beneficial.  This is the problem with using sprays - you kill the good guys with the bad and so upset the natural balance, usually making things worse over the long run.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Okay, thank you for this information i shall just stand back and let nature do is thing. Thank you so much for replying though, and the information is very interesting regarding possible manipulation of the ants - it seems the cherry tree is more intelligent than me! 
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    There's an interesting page on the subject, here:

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
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