23 Jan Ants
Description: Ants need no introduction but there are many different species of various sizes and colours that are common in the garden. The main way that they attract the attention of gardeners is when they either disturb our pots or paving or our enjoyment of gardening itself (ie biting ants). Ants can also be seen in the foliage of trees and shrubs.
Damage Caused: Ants can nest in pot plants as well as disturb sand used between pavers. Ants in pots disrupt the penetration of water to the plant causing dry zones around the root ball.
Ants also shepherd pest species such as aphids, scales and other sap-sucking insect pests. The ants protect these pests from their natural predators and in return feed on the sugary substance excreted by the pests as they suck on the plants sap.
Control: One way of controlling ants in pots or other soil mediums is to increase the moisture content of their habitat. Ants generally will try to avoid moist locations and a simple measure of watering with a wetting agent can be enough to move them on. I have found that wetting agents containing botanical oils content are the most effective at this.
Commercially ‘Ant Sand’ products are also available to the home gardener.
Controlling any pest species (eg. aphids) that attract ants will generally reduce their numbers. If you utilise predatory insects in your garden to control the primary insect (ie. aphids), look at banding the base of the plant with horticultural glue as a way of stopping ants from traveling up the stems and branches and feeding and protecting their sugar-coated friends 🙂