The Q&A Archives: Ants in Raspberry Patch

Question: I have a 15x55' raspberry patch with a variety of cultivars (7 black, 1 yellow, 6 red and 4 purples). My question is how do I keep ants from eating my berries? I have black ants (about 3/8" long) feeding on my berries as they ripen and I could see them reducing my yield by half very easily. They appear to be chewing their way through the skin of the individual drupes to get at the juice, which leaves me berries with the end compartments sucked completely dry.

I don't have any aphids at all and I haven't seen any Japanese beetles or really any other insects on any of the plants other than the ants. Last March I used a dormant oil spray and about a month ago I carefully sprayed the lower portions of the plants with a Sevin type product at recommended strength.

I need to be careful because from now to mid October I will have berries/blooms/bees in the patch. I've thought about using Diazinon granules or borax or diatomaceous earth, but I don't know how effective they would be against ants up on my plants. Any suggestions?

Answer: Sorry my reply is tardy! I hope you still have some fruit on the canes! Like bees, ants have a nest with a queen, so they are likely taking in the juice and travelling back to the colony. You can catch them by ringing the base of the canes with Tangletrap. This sticky stuff gets them, coming or going. You should check it regularly, and put more on if the tangletrap gets so "crowded" that it can't catch more ants. You will inevitably get this nasty stuff on your skin -- use baby oil or mineral oil to remove it.

I also suggest boric acid baits to get to the heart of the colony. Best of luck!

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