The Q&A Archives: Ants in the Garden

Question: Our backyard has always had lots of ants (not the biting kind). They are most numerous in the fruit trees, often on the fruit that we are harvesting. Other than being annoying, are they causing any problems? If so, how can we get rid of them?

Answer: Some gardeners assume that most bugs are bad and are to be eradicated, but in your case I think you've got it pegged -- the ants can be a nuisance, but they aren't causing any real harm. Ants sometimes indicate the presence of aphids -- the ants are attracted to the sweet "honeydew" the aphids secrete.

One way to cut down on the presence of ants in trees is to wrap tree trunks with a sticky substance that catches them when they travel up and down the tree. There are two types -- a sticky tape and a gluey substance that you spread on the bark. You'll need to check it often to make sure the ants haven't found a route around the sticky stuff.

A non-toxic way to deal with ant mounds in the garden is to pour boiling water on them. Be sure not to cook nearby plants.

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