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Ants In Vegetable Garden

ants in vegetable garden 1
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Ants In Vegetable Garden

One species of Carpenter Ants Tweet I have read a few debates on the internet about ants in the vegetable garden. Some have commented that ants must be removed from the garden area. On the other hand, I have read that ants do not pose a threat and can be left alone. In my opinion, it really depends on the type of ant. Garden Ants I call the typical little black, or red colored ant, the garden ant. They may have a more sophisticated name, but I don’t know it. Garden ants can actually be beneficial in the vegetable garden – they act as pollinators by crawling around from bloom to bloom looking for nectar, and they can kill off harmful caterpillars. These ants do not typically harm vegetation by striping leaves from plants. Whenever I find these ants in my garden I let them be. The only time the ants might pose a problem is if the population becomes very large, resulting in an outright infestation. Something to watch for with ants in the garden, is aphids. Ants are attracted to aphids due to the fact that aphids give off a sweet secretion. The ants will collect these aphid secretions, and take them back to their nests. The ants will also protect the aphids from predators. If you do find ants in your garden, check to make sure that aphids are not present as well. Treat any found aphids as soon as possible. Visit 12 Homemade Natural Remedies For The Garden to find solutions for treating aphids. The little black specs on this okra bloom are garden ants Carpenter Ants and Fire Ants Carpenter ants tunnel and nest in wooden structures and can wreck havoc in houses, trellises, or any other item constructed of wood. Whenever carpenter ants are detected they should be controlled immediately. If they are seen near or in your home or shed, it might be a good idea to call a professional exterminator as soon as possible. One species of Carpenter Ants One ant that you definitely want to stay clear of is the fire ant. Fire ants are usually large, red ants that can construct very large mound. A fire ant colony can contain as many as a million ants. Anyone that has ever been bitten by a fire ant can tell you that this is one critter you want to eliminate from your yard. The Red Fire Ant is an ant you don’t want to befriend Ant Control There are some very organic means of getting rid of ants if you are in the need to do so. One recipe to kill ants is as follows: one cup of sugar one cup of borax Mix the sugar and borax in a cup, then lightly sprinkle the mixture around the ant hills. The ants will not be able to tell the borax is mixed with the sugar and carry it into the ant colony. Borax is highly poisonous to ants, wiping out the colony in a couple days. Another trick to get rid of small hills of ants is to sprinkle a couple packets of Equal or Nutra Sweet around the hill. The ants will think it’s sugar, but it is really poisonous to ants. It really makes you wonder – if that stuff kills ants, what is it doing to those that use it? Unless it is the nastiest of ant infestations, I don’t believe in killing them just to get rid of them. Try to find some creative ways of dealing with ants or other insect challenges. If anyone has a great idea of dealing with ants, or other insects, please feel free to share them in the comments section below. Try These Organic Pesticides and Fungicides Discuss in our forums
ants in vegetable garden 1

Ants In Vegetable Garden

Another advantage of having ants in your garden is protection from herbivores. Ants are attracted to the nectar found on the plant stem or sepals (not the nectar found in flowers that is used by pollinators). The ants patrol these plants and disturb herbivores and seed-eating insects by attacking them, by causing them to fall off the plants, or by interrupting feeding, egg laying, courtship, or molting. The ants crawling all over sticky peony buds in early summer, for example, protect them from enemies, and the ants are rewarded with a rich food source. Some plants also reward this pro­tective role by housing ants in special structures, in addition to providing them with food rich in proteins, lipids, and car­bo­hydrates.  Ant protection from predation is also beneficial for some of our most common insects. The caterpillars of some butter­fly groups produce a sweet substance known as honey­dew to attract ant protectors. The ants “farm” the caterpillars, sometimes even carrying them into the ant nests to complete development. This interaction can add more butterflies and birds to your garden as they become attracted to the greater insect activity.  A few garden ants are nuisance species. Native fire ants in the South sting and bite, making them unpleasantvisitors to the garden. Nonnative red imported fire ants are a more serious problem. They are overabundant because they have escaped their natural competitors and predators in South America. They damage crops, cause a decline in native-ant populations, and even incapacitate machinery. Carpenter ants live in rotting wood but do little damage to live garden plants. Most ants, however, have no negative impact at all.  If you don’t happen to have a pet anteater in your yard, you can control unwanted ants by pouring hot water into their nests, but we discourage it because of all of the important, positive roles that ants play in your garden. The ants, in fact, are eaten by other insects, spiders, frogs, lizards, birds, fish, and some mammals, forming an important part of food webs all over the world.  We are continually learning new ways that ants contribute to the ecosystem. Home gardeners can do worse than follow the biblical advice to observe the ant and be wise.  
ants in vegetable garden 2

Ants In Vegetable Garden

When you wander through your lawn or garden and stumble across an anthill, a small mound of soil molded into tiny pellets, it’s often a gardener’s first instinct to destroy it. You stomp and kick until the small hill disappears and the tiny ants scurry off. But by doing so, you’re actually doing a disservice to your garden. Though most gardeners find these anthills a nuisance, they are our first clue to the important, helpful roles ants play in gardens and  lawns—they’re tiny roto­tillers. Tunneling ants turn over as much soil as earthworms do, aerating the soil and redistributing nutrients. Ants are also part of the world recycling crew: acting as scavengers, collecting dead insects and turning them into fertilizer for your soil.  Rather than being seen as pests, ants can be understood as our partners in gardening. One of the most easily observed and important roles that ants play is as seed dispersers. Here in the temperate eastern forests, ants disperse woodland spring wildflowers, such as bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis, USDA Hardiness Zones 3–9), trout lilies (Erythronium spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), and most violets (Viola spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9). They conduct this same role with flowering plants across the country. This enterprise is so beneficial that plants appear to have adjusted the timing of flowering and fruiting to take advantage of high ant activity early in the year.
ants in vegetable garden 3

Ants In Vegetable Garden

Getting rid of ants in the garden has to be one of the most popular questions that I have personally received in many emails and posts on the vegetable gardening Facebook page. I probably should have answered how to get rid of ants a while ago, but alas I have not created any blog post to date on the topic, so here are some remedies from the research I have conducted. What makes this topic tough is that not all remedies work, and with over 12,000 species of ants, not all ants are technically bad for your home vegetable garden. So here are some home remedies that you can give a try. The first idea is one of my own that I read years ago and that is to use cornmeal. The upside to this method is that you will reduce the ant population, cornmeal is safe for your plants, and it is fairly inexpensive and widely available at any supermarket. The downside to this method, is that it takes a lot of applications to start seeing results and you may not wipe out the colony, which is probably what you are shooting for here. Another example of a good ant fighting method that is safe for plants, is direct spraying with a vinegar and water mixture. Equal parts will do. I have not tried this method personally as I like the cornmeal method, but the idea here is that the low pH of the vinegar is not good for the ants and it will kill them.

Ants In Vegetable Garden

Another advantage of having ants in your garden is protection from herbivores. Ants are attracted to the nectar found on the plant stem or sepals (not the nectar found in flowers that is used by pollinators). The ants patrol these plants and disturb herbivores and seed-eating insects by attacking them, by causing them to fall off the plants, or by interrupting feeding, egg laying, courtship, or molting. The ants crawling all over sticky peony buds in early summer, for example, protect them from enemies, and the ants are rewarded with a rich food source. Some plants also reward this pro­tective role by housing ants in special structures, in addition to providing them with food rich in proteins, lipids, and car­bo­hydrates.

Ants In Vegetable Garden

Ants In Vegetable Garden
Ants In Vegetable Garden

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