Ants are what you think of as “typical backyard pests.” Unfortunately, their typical food source is the sweet sap coursing through your garden plants. These are high in carbohydrates and sugars particularly important to plant health.
An ant’s digestive system cannot process these sugars. What they eat does not nourish them. But what happens when an ant eats up a tasty meal of sap? That sugary phloem forces its way into their stomach.
This is where osmotic pressure inflates the insect-like water balloon until it pops! It fills with fluid or semi-digested plant material that oozes back out onto your patio furniture.
How Ants Can Help Your Garden
Thinking of how ants benefit your garden? Here are three ways:
Control Pests Naturally
Ants are what other bugs also eat. They keep the aphid population under control, eating 40 to 80 percent of their body weight each day.
The presence of ants has been around for a long time. They are still one of the best biological control agents! Like ladybeetles, green lacewings, and other beneficial bugs, these creatures often help control pests. This is by eating their eggs or young during feeding situations.
Farmers in 300 AD introduced this idea on purpose as part of an Integrated Pest Management strategy. It is when using natural enemies like predatory wasps to attack destructive species such as pestilence flies.
While the added sugars do not nourish ants, they transform their bodies into what is known as “honeydew.” It is what plant sap transforms into. Plants use ant honeydew to advertise for more mutually beneficial insects that keep other harmful species away.
Improve Pollination Rates
Ants pollinate some plants. This includes the Western honey bee. They use their hairs to attract pollen and distribute it as they move from plant to plant. This is what you often see as little dirt streaks on their back as they roam between flowers. When an ant shakes off its wings or legs, this is what happens.
Gardeners across North America are finding themselves with fewer pollinators to help them fruit. But there is some good news! Ants can turn into your new bee friends. They can make sure that all those delicious crops get picked at regular intervals. This is even without assistance from human hands or feet.
The population of bees has been decreasing steadily since 1995. It was recorded as low around 40% less than the historical average. How will this affect you? One possible answer lies within your garden.
This is where ants are taking over crop rearing tasks. It leaves you free from manual labor while still enjoying their tasty rewards every summer seasonal changeover!
Support a Healthy Ecosystem
What can you do about ants in your plants? You need to make sure that the ecosystem around them is healthy. That means finding out what they eat.
Do these leaf-eaters prefer a food source? Are they eating up all of the former young green shoots on the Asparagus fern? This does not leave anything for other beneficial species or insects in your garden.
Tower Garden is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional gardening. Instead of using soil, it uses pebbles filled with organic material such as leaves and animal droppings. Ants then cultivate them into perfect conditions for growing plants by distributing water. There is also oxygenating the area around each stone randomly throughout their tunnels.
It is never stagnant like what can happen in dirt beds. This is where pests thrive easily because they can compactly pack down roots without getting wet from topsoil drying out too quickly.
Another reason is the presence of fungal disease making things worse. Realize the existence of a problem going on up above ground level.
How Ants Can Hurt Your Garden
Despite the miniature size of ants, remember that these can also cause trouble to your garden. Here are three ways:
Increase Pest Populations
An interesting fact is that ants will protect these creepy crawlers. This is what keeps the pest population low on plants like lettuce, broccoli, and cabbage. That means less pesticide use for you to worry about what chemicals were used on your food crop.
The ants of the world have a sweet tooth. They are not just eating fruit. You might think that aphids produce honeydew. This is because of the full nectar-like sugars. But what happens is these bugs secrete a sticky liquid called “honeydew.” Why do butterflies also love collecting it?
Ants can become a helpful partner to aphids, providing them with food and protection from predators. In return, these creatures get nectar from flowers that insects caused harm to.
In other words, there is an ant-plant mutualism ̶where both organisms benefit in some ways due to their association. The ant gets sustenance while the plant restores its growing tips. This type of relationship between two species occurs when one benefits at the expense of another.
Cause Pain and Property Damage
Ants can also cause damage to your garden by biting. This is what they do in getting too close to their nests. It feels that a factor is threatening their turf. It can hurt, but what causes more discomfort is the redness and itchiness on the skin from where the ant bites.
These creatures can turn into a nuisance for your garden. But their most pestiferous species are the fire ants. These annoying pests will sting when provoked and cause severe pain with their venom that lasts for several days.
Carpenter ants also produce formic acid as well which may burn you. This is when they bite during feeding time. Another instance is spraying it onto wounds like an ant poison.
How to Control Ants in Your Garden
What can you do to deal with ants in your garden? Here are methods that work!
Offer Up an Easy Meal
Ants eat what they find easy to digest. These include nectar, honeydew, and other sweet substances derived from plants.
That means providing them with what they want. This is by using food sources they like to feed upon. These insects enjoy eating fruits and vegetables. They will also eat protein-rich foods such as meat.
There are also loving products like sugary drinks and candy. Sugar is the ultimate treat for backyard ants! What you need to do next is offer up what it loves most in your garden space!
What To Do About Ants Eating a Vegetable Garden
Having a vegetable garden tempts ants to eat on them. Familiarize yourself with three ways on what you can do about it:
The first way is to use environmental controls. This works by blocking the spaces where they pass through and gain access to your garden. You may use a barrier or physical description. Examples are sharp rocks or gravel that ants cannot cross over.
You can also use a mulch barrier. This works by lining a wooden border around your garden with a layer of bark chips or gravel. Also, you can do this for potted plants using a wire ring that ants will not cross over.
The second way is through chemical controls. These work by putting what you want in a spray bottle. What it does is release the ingredients of the ants’ food source. In this case, it is vinegar or lemon juice.
Use its primary food source when killing ants around your garden with chemicals. A common ingredient used as an ant killer is boric acid. You can add it to baking soda using syrup or honey as bait.
New growth is the most tender part of any plant. Aphids love this type of tissue. It is best to keep an eye on them and take quick action! This is before they can cause too much damage or infestation with their populations. It may lead you to use chemical treatments for your plants’ healthiest possible outcome.
The last way that you can deal with ants eating your vegetables or plants is through baits. This works by adding what they like most into the bait content. Insects will feed on them wholeheartedly until there are no more nutrients left. It is what most baits use. This is the solution to what you need to know about ants in your garden.
Ant bait is a mixture of ingredients that work together to attract and kill ants! You can buy it from many different retailers. It is also a choice to make one using common household items as desired. Regardless of your choice, using it correctly will yield similar results in eliminating these pesky insects at home.
In dire circumstances, though there are professionals available who specialize more in pest control services. This is compared to DIY projects like ant baiting with just about everything.
Ant bait appears as liquid or solid and you use it in different applications. This depends on where the ant infestation lurks. Deal with these pests that trespass your personal space.
Find their source by first examining every inch of ground near an entry point into a room you do not want them inside. This includes corners due to how sneaky they get! These baits work best when applied in spring and fall because of moderate temperatures.
Keep the sight of plants in your garden pleasant by getting an ant control service from local professionals. Practice the effective ways mentioned.