The Q&A Archives: ants

Question: I find many small red ants in my garden. Most of them build their nest under rocks, stepping stones, etc. They are a nuisence. Are they beneficial?
Thank you.

Answer: Ants are considered the great recyclers of the insect world. Without them we'd be knee deep in decomposing organic matter. However, they may cause some problems in the garden. They feed on nectar and sap (sugary substances) and they may attack and kill beneficial insects such as ladybugs. Ladybugs are the number one enemy of aphids; aphids excrete a sugary substance called honeydew when they feed on plants. Ants "herd" or "nurse" aphids, protecting them because they feed on the honeydew left by the aphids. When ladybugs come to feed on the aphids, ants will attack and kill the ladybugs. In my garden, I prefer to have ladybugs rather than ants. So, ultimately, the decision whether or not to control the ants is yours.

Best wishes with your garden!

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