“Do ants eat plants?” means you are worried for your garden plants, as there are a lot of ants in the garden. Well, your concerns are valid, but you must know that most ant species do not directly eat your plants.
However, the presence of ants in your garden can indicate something else. To know everything about ants in your garden as well as how to remove them and keep your plants safe, read this article.
- Do Ants Eat Plants?
- What Attracts Ants to Your Garden Plants?
- How Do You Keep Ants Away From Your Plants?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Do Ants Eat Plants?
Yes, ants do sometimes eat plants. They are insects that usually eat other insects or look for dead materials (both plant and animal) to eat – depending on the species. However, some species of ant such as the leaf cutter ants do eat plants.
These ants do just what the name says! They cut the leaves of the plants and feed some to fungi that they cultivate in their colony and they can spell disaster for your garden. Thankfully, they can only be found in South America, Central America, South Texas, and a few other places.
As for most of the ants that you are likely to see in your garden, they are entering the garden for other reasons. One major reason why they enter your garden is to harvest the sap of mealybugs, aphids, and other sap-sucking insects.
These parasites excrete a substance called honeydew which the ants drink. Ants also enter your garden when they see other insects and little animals that they can carry to their colony.
Ants may also just be passing through your garden and mean no harm. One great thing about ants is that they are very easy to locate. You can easily tell where they are going to and where they are coming from. You only need to be attentive and follow their movement.
What Attracts Ants to Your Garden Plants?
Some things that attract ants to your garden plants are dying plants, sap-sucking insects, food waste and other ant foods, fungi and bacteria, and decomposing plants. More innocently, though, the ants may just be passing through your garden as well.
– Sap-Sucking Insects
Did you know that ants are in a symbiotic relationship with mealybugs, aphids, and other insects? The type of relationship in ecology is referred to as “Mutualism” and it refers to a relationship where both parties gain from each other.
Even though ants may not be eating your plants, they will protect aphids and other sap-sucking insects that are eating your plants and harvest their honeydew.
This means that the presence of ants in your garden can tell you that there are aphids, mealybugs, and other sap-sucking insects in your garden. If you observe the ants carefully, you can tell where the insects are.
– Dying Plants
Ants are scavengers. This means that they are always on the watch for organic materials that they can carry to their colony. Thankfully, most of them choose to avoid living plants. However, they will collect dying plants, fruits, and other materials from your garden to the colony.
In this case, the ants are beneficial to you because they keep your garden clean and safe. They also tell you which plant is dying in the garden. It is now up to you to find the cause of the dying plants. Please note that ants carrying dead leaves from your garden are not responsible for the death of the plants.
– Food Waste and Other Ant Foods
Did you mistakenly spill sugar on the ground? When last did you clean your garden and remove all the food waste? Remember that food attracts ants, so if you do not want ants in your garden, you need to remove what attracts them. Keep your garden clean. Well, the presence of ants in the garden will be beneficial to you, as they will help you to keep the garden clean.
– Fungi and Bacteria
Ants can get rid of harmful microbes in your garden. When organic materials in your garden are decomposing, they attract a lot of fungi and bacteria. By taking these materials away from your garden, ants can keep your plants and the garden generally safe from harmful microbes.
Well, note that not all microbes are harmful, as there are beneficial ones. Some species of ants also eat microbes, so they help to control the microbe population in your garden.
– They Are Just Passing Through the Garden
The ants may just be moving from one point to another without disturbing your plants. For example, if your garden is between the ant colony and their food source, they will pass through your garden. You can tell that the ants mean no harm when they do not stay on your garden plants for long.
When ants are passing through your garden, they will not climb the plants except they really need to. This means that a majority of the walking ants will walk on the soil. You can observe how they walk and where they are headed to know if they are just passing through your garden or not.
How Do You Keep Ants Away From Your Plants?
Some ways to keep ants away from your garden are removing everything that they enter the garden for such as sap-sucking insects, keeping your garden clean, spraying insecticides that are safe for plants, blocking their way to your garden, and using insecticidal soap.
– Find Where the Ants Are Coming From
One of the first things that you should do is to look for the ant hole or hill. You should also know where the ants are going. Knowing where the ants are coming from can help you to prevent them from entering the garden, as you can attack them from their home. Knowing where the ants are going can help you to know what they are really after.
Be careful when observing the ants. Follow them closely, but not too close so that they do not bite your legs. You can stand at a distance and look at them. All the ants will most probably move in one direction.
– Rid Your Plants of Sap-sucking Insects
To keep ants away from your plants, you need to remove all the aphids, mealybugs, and other sap-sucking insects in the garden. Most of these insects prefer the bottom surface of your plants’ leaves, so check under the leaves. Note that aphids and mealybugs do not have a preferred plant, so you will most likely see them in different types of plants in your garden.
The ants can tell you where to find these sap-sucking insects, as you will most likely see a lot of ants on plants with the insects. You can use insecticides or employ ladybug beetles to remove these sap-sucking insects from your garden.
– Always Keep Your Garden Clean
Some things that you should remove from or always monitor in your garden are:
- Food waste: How do you dispose of your food? If you must use food waste as a source of organic nutrients for your plants, ensure that you bury it completely.
- Compost: Use a compost bin instead of opening the compost pile so that the ants will not easily access the products inside.
- Organic fertilizer: Products such as coffee grounds attract a lot of ants, so you want to carefully use them.
- Dying plants: Remove dying plants and plant products so that ants and microbes do not enter your garden.
- Dead insects: Ensure that your garden is free from everything dead.
– Spray Plant-safe Insecticides
Plant-safe insecticides are chemical products that you can buy from a gardening store near you. It is important that you buy your insecticide from the gardening section of a store so that you can be sure that it is safe to be used in the garden. These products are very effective and will kill all the plants and other insects in your garden.
A cheap pest control method for plants is to pour boiling water into their hole or hill. You can kill ants and will keep your garden free from ants for a very long time with hot water. Do not use hot water near the roots of your plants so that the plants do not die due to an excessively high temperature.
– Protect Your Plants with Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a plant-safe pest-repelling product that you can use in your garden. You can easily get this powder from gardening stores near you or even order it online. You only need to spray it around the edge of your garden, near your plants, and any part of the garden where you do not want ants and other insects to go.
The product is very effective. However, you need to follow the instructions while using it so that it can be as effective as you need it to be. If you want to get rid of the ants, you can pour the powder on the ant hill or hole and the ants will run away to a farther place.
– Use Insecticidal Soap
Insecticidal soap is a product that you can use to repel ants, aphids, and other pests away from your plants. Insecticidal soap is very easy to make, as all you need is soap and water. You should just mix the soap (any type of foamy soap) with water and spray your plant leaves with it.
You also want to spray plants with ants on their leaves so that the ants will run away. You can even follow the ants to their hole or hill and flood it with soap water if you want to kill them all. Well, you do not need to go so extreme.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can Ants Kill Your Plants?
Ands can definitely kill your plants. If by chance, you have plants like leaf cutters or others that consume plants, your plants may not survive an ant attack unless you repel them. However, so long as the ants in your garden are not herbivores, they will not attack your plants.
If you see your potted plants or others in your garden dying and there are ants in the garden, the ants can tell you what is killing your plants. Follow the direction of the ants. They might be heading to a place filled with fungi and bacteria. Ants in your garden simply mean that there is something that they are after in the garden.
2. What Are the Benefits of Ants in the Garden?
Garden ants do have benefits in the garden, so their presence is not all disastrous. They can for example help pollination, help control actual pests, facilitate soil aeration and help enrich the soil. As you can see, ants are beneficial insects for your garden.
- Pollinators: While moving from plant to plant, ants can carry some grains of pollen from one flower to the next. This means that ants can be responsible for fruit production in your plants.
- Controls pests: Ants can rid your garden of spiders, grasshoppers, houseflies, and other organisms that you do not want in your garden.
- Soil aeration: Some ants burrow through the garden soil. While you may not like this, the holes created by these ants can actually aerate the soil and supply your plants’ roots with oxygen.
- Enriching the soil: While ants pass through the soil, they leave their droppings. They also help decomposers in the soil to act on decaying materials faster by first eating the decaying materials for the decomposers.
3. Why Are There So Many Ants in Your Garden?
If you have a large number of ants in your garden, this could be the reason:
- They live close: Innocent colonies close by.
- They are after something: Check for decaying materials.
- They are looking for a new home: Ants do migrate from one hill or hole to another.
Now, you know what to do when you see ants in your vegetable garden.
Here are some reminders for you:
- Ant baits in your garden are other insects, sap from aphids and mealybugs, fungi and bacteria, and dying plants.
- It is mostly not true that ants eat the leaves of your plants. However, they can tell you what is killing your plants if you follow them.
- You can prevent ants from entering your garden by using diatomaceous earth and other insect repellents.
- Ants can be beneficial to your plants, as they can aid in pollination and keep your plants safe from so many types of pests.
- Keep food waste and other organic materials far from your garden to keep plants away from the garden.
Ensure that you apply the gardening guides in this article to keep your plants safe from the reason why ants are in your garden.
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