Ants - Knowledgebase Question

Stockton, Ca
Question by manicmarsha
September 8, 2010
I saw some ants crawling on my okra flowers. Should I be concerned?


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Answer from NGA
September 8, 2010

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For the most part, ants do not cause any serious problems in yard and vegetable garden. The ants may be finding a source of nectar or there may be aphids feedig on the okra plant and exuding a sticky substance called honeydew which is attracting the ants. If you want to control the ants, a good least-toxic method is the use of boric acid baits, which can eliminate some ant colonies in about one week. The trick is to not kill the ants at the bait station, but to get the ants to carry the boric acid back to the nest, poisoning the members of the colony that never leave the nest. You can make a boric acid bait by mixing one-half cup jelly, such as apple jelly, with 1 1/4 tsp boric acid powder. Punch several holes in the lid of the jar, then screw the lid on tightly and seal with tape. The holes should be large enough for the ants to pass through to reach the bait. Place the bait jar on its side where the ants will come in contact with it. If the ants are unable to gain footing on the jar lid, you might want to scratch the surface with sandpaper or a pebble. If you find many dead ants around the bait station, lower the amount of boric acid in the mixture. If you are still finding live ants after a week to 10 days, increase the amount of boric acid. Although boric acid is of very low toxicity, it is best to place bait jars where children and pets cannot reach them.

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