The Q&A Archives: Red Ants in Garden

Question: I have recently planted a garden, and have noticed that there are alot of red ants in the soil. Will these ants affect the my vegetable and perennial gardens? Will they eat the plants? In my Perennial garden I have red and regular ants, will they affect that garden as well? What do you recommend for treatment and prevention? I'd really appreciate any info that you could provide. I am very new to this gardening hobby and would like to have partial success.

Answer: I've never known ants to be a problem in the garden on their own, but when they team up with aphids, you will see trouble! Ants "herd" aphids, protecting them from predators in exchange for honeydew, the sweet excrement the aphids produce. It'll be obvious if this is the case in your garden - you'll see ants on plant stems and leaves and clusters of pale green/brown soft-bodied aphids nearby. You can control them by first blasting them off the plants with a strong spray of water (if the plants are sturdy ones!) and follow up with a neem-based repellent to keep the aphids from returning to the plants. Insecticidal soap sprays are also an effective control on plants that can't stand the force of a strong stream of water. You'll find most of these products in garden centers, or at Gardener's Supply Co.,, ph# 800/863-1700. Good luck - visit us any time with your questions. We want you to succeed, too!

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