ants eating butterfly bushes - Knowledgebase Question

Boise, ID (Zone 6A)
Avatar for samanthastok
Question by samanthastok
June 8, 2006
I planted Butterfly bushes last year in the spring. I just noticed that the leaves have holes and looked closer to find them infested with ants! Is there a way to get rid of them? I had a friend tell me to spray soapy water on them,will that work or will it kill my bushes?

Answer from NGA
June 8, 2006
The ants are there because something else is feeding on your plant and exuding a sweet substance called honeydew. I'll bet if you closely examined the undersides of the leaves you'd find aphids (or some other insect). Aphids can be controlled with applications of Insecticidal Soap, or you can try hosing them off with plain water. Once the aphids are gone, the honeydew will be gone and the ants will go elsewhere. Best wishes with your garden!

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