Thursday, September 14, 2017

How Ants Can Damage Plants and How to Prevent them

Ants can be a holy grail for your plants and a healthy part when it comes to your garden’s ecosystem, but they can also cause a s... thumbnail 1 summary


How-ants-can-damage-plants
Ants can be a holy grail for your plants and a healthy part when it comes to your garden’s ecosystem, but they can also cause a severe damage if in large numbers, and are not eliminated on time.

These tiny creatures disrupt the growth of low-lying plants as they build their nests because they take out the soil at the roots and deposit it on the surface which might end up covering small plants.  This is what damages roots and soil structure which only needs to poor plant performance and death.
Moreover, they collect honey dew which is secreted by aphids and other sap feeding insects. Since they require the honey dew, they protect the aphids from predators. Aphids on the other hand cause so much damage to plants. They distort their growth, cause a lack of vigor, and transmit viruses among plants. The honey dew secreted is a sticky substance which allows the growth of sooty moulds on plants.

If you grow your plants in containers, they are not safe from ant damage. Once these insects are in the container, they cause root disturbance which ultimately leads to the plant wilting and eventually dying.

Preventing ants from damaging your plants

Ants are social insects that may do your plants more good than harm at times. However, because of the damage they cause in your garden, it’s vital that you get rid of these tiny creatures before it’s too late. Keep in mind that not all the remedies we will give will work given that there are over 12,000 ants species, some more tolerant to some chemicals more than others.

Non-chemical control

If you do not want to use chemical products in your garden or lawn, you can try out different DIY homemade techniques to get rid of ants.

Water

You can start by flooding any anthills on your lawn or garden with water; boiling water if possible. This will force the ants to relocate to other areas. This method however takes time to work fully; hence you will need to be patient; and also hot water may damage to plant roots. So you have to add them before the planting.


Spices

Ants cannot thrive well in an environment with overly strong scents, which tend to confuse them. You can achieve this by sprinkling some spices from your pantry around your plants and shrubs to keep the creatures at bay. Commonly used spices include cinnamon, mint and black pepper because of their strong scents. Alternatively, you can sprinkle scented baby powder, which just works as well.

Wood ash
Wood ash is one of a solution to remove the ants. Spread out ash around the ants and hive area. But this is not completely removing them. They shift to ash free area.


Homemade baits

If you have no money to buy boric acid to make an ant trap, you can make your own bait right at home. Mix equal parts of corn meal and sugar or borax and sugar and place your solution at the base of the plants.


Using sticky substances

If the ants are not already on the plants and you want to keep them from climbing, apply either Vaseline or other sticky substances you might have around the house at the base of your plants.

Planting ant repelling plants

This is a natural method you can use to keep ants away from your plants. There are certain types of plants like mint, chrysanthemum, sage, garlic, calendula, peppermint and aster that are known to deter garden pests, including ants; try planting these around your garden to keep the ants at bay.


Chemical control

If homemade methods do not seem to work, why not try out commercial products? They are deemed as more effective and have a higher success rate to guarantee that ants do not get to your plants.


Boric acid

If you want a commercial ant killer that is considered quite safe to use around kids and pets, purchase boric acid and make an ant trap. However, you should take caution during application to avoid using the solution incorrectly or applying higher concentrations than recommended since it can be harmful at this point.

For your boric acid ant trap, mix about 3 cups of water with 1 cup of sugar and about 4 teaspoons of your boric acid. You should always have your gloves on during the mixing and application. We also recommend labeling your jars as containing poison to avoid people from ingesting the solution.

Soak some cotton batting in the mixture and place it in several jars, which you should seal tightly. Punch some holes on the lids to create a passage way for your ants and leave the jars around your plants. 

The best part about using boric acid is that when the ants crawl in and suck the mixture, they leave the jars and take some bait back to their colonies where the remaining ants also get to ingest the acid and succumb to death. Wondering where to buy boric acid Read this article to find out more information. 



It helps to know the ant species you have in our garden so that you can decide on what bait to use. For the protein eating ants, leave out the sugar and use either dog or cat food or even peanut butter to make the trap. Use wood instead of the cotton batting for the carpenter ants.

Sprays

Start by checking all the plants in your garden or yard for any aphids’ infestation, which indicates the presence of ants. You can either check for aphids or any bugs that secrete sugar, which ants mainly feed on.

A good commercial spray on the plants will do the trick, and dislodge all those insects. Having no more sugar secreting bugs on your plants will ensure that ants lose their ability to survive.

Using bleach or ammonia

You may have noticed that ants walk in a straight line. This is usually their scent trail and it’s about the other ants following their scouts who went ahead in search of food. To disrupt this trail, just soak a piece of cloth in bleach or ammonia and lay it over the ants’ path.
You should never pour the solutions directly on the soil as they can easily damage the plants’ roots.

Conclusion

Ants are not the friendly social insects we all had no problem with. If they are around your plants, the only way to keep the plants healthy is by getting rid of these insects as fast as you can.
We have outlined various methods you can use, depending on the level of the infestation and the ant species you are dealing with.  Not all methods will work for you, but one will definitely keep the creatures at bay. Keep trying and be patient and you will finally be able to keep your plants ant-free.