The Q&A Archives: Controlling Ants

Question: I have artichokes that were growing quite nice and producing well. However, the ants and aphids seem to have invaded and now there are aphids between most of the bottom layers of leaves and they are almost impossible to clean out. What can I do to get rid of ants/aphids without having toxic chokes? Jeff Norris Lake Forest, CA

Answer: It's tough when aphids get into all the nooks and crannies in broccoli and artichokes! If you succeed in controlling the aphids, the ants will disappear too, since the latter is attracted to the aphid "honeydew". If you want to stem the damage, insecticidal soap is effective on aphids and widely available. Horticultural oil such as Eco-Oil (sold by Gardens Alive; 812-537-8650) is a relatively safe option too. It doesn't have a long-term effect on beneficials and can be used right up to harvest.They also sell Neem-Away, which kills current resident aphids and repels any others, and is harmless to honeybees, lady beetles and other beneficials. I suggest using it as a repellent on your future crops, and maybe you'll have aphid-free artichokesnext time!

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