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in Problem solving
The ants are 'milking' the aphids of their honeydew. The ants 'encourage' the aphids which, if your tree was large it would probably cope ok, but as it's only a small tree the aphids might stunt it's growth. I think I'd make a weak dilute solution of washing up liquid and spray it over the infestations - that ought to help get rid of the aphids. I've used a solution of Ecover washing up liquid to get rid of aphids on roses and it worked for me
In the spring soak a old cloth with cooking oil and try round tree.This stops the ants and alike doing the damage.its to late now so next year.....