Ants – Harmful or Beneficial for plants?

An ant on the leaf with heading are ants harmful or beneficial for plants

With summers approaching, this is a much needed post as you will be seeing a lot of ants around your plants or in your soil. In a sub-tropical country like India, a good amount of biodiversity is present due to different ecological conditions. This means we would have different types of plants along with variety of insects and pests. The hot and humid climate of soil is a perfect for harboring ants. Ants can be found in our backyard gardens as well as in our potted soil.

What attracts ants?

Ants usually come out of their nests in search of food. Plants synthesize sugars by the process of photosynthesis which attracts them. The plant sap consists of sucrose which makes it sweet. In soil (or sometimes on plants) certain insects like mealy bugs and aphids are present which secrete sweet honeydew like substances. These in turn again attract ants in pots and garden soil.

Are ants harmful?

The answer to this question depends upon the number of ants. If the anthills are in a moderate number then you don’t need to worry about them. They will help you get rid of insects eating your plants. While collecting plant sap, they disturb the life cycle of insects which can harm your plants. Ants even disturb their egg laying positions which controls their population. But if the number of anthills is more, they will do more harm than good. Excessive feeding on plant sap will render the plant devoid of essential nutrients and sugars for energy. Furthermore, they can attack the roots of the plants and disrupt the supply of water and minerals. Excess movement of ants on leaves or stems may cause wounds which may lead to secondary infections.

How to get rid of them?

The basic home remedies include –

 Sprinkling turmeric around the potted plant or ant hills. This will drive away ants up to some extent.

 You can over water the potted plants which will suffocate the ants and then drain the excess water as soon as possible.

 Pour hot water on ant hills.

 Boil citrus fruits in water and sprinkle it around the plants.

 Make a soap solution using liquid soaps in water and pour it around the plants

 Peppermint oil is also known to repel ants.

 You can also use vinegar to get rid of ants. Dilute it with water in the ratio 1:2 or 1:3 and spray it around the ants.

Don’t panic if you see too many ants around your plants especially during summers as they collect food for winters. You can use chemicals like chlorpyrifos if the problem persists. Just try the above listed remedies and you will be able to drive them away.

Hope you liked this article and found it helpful.

Written by
Antra Thada

Published by Reema

Entrepreneur | Author of 2 Ebooks | Gardener

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