Ants killing my Marigolds - Knowledgebase Question

Question by cdlakramer
April 22, 2010
Every year around early August I notice that some of my Marigolds start to die off. When I pull out the plant there are ants around the roots and also eggs from the ants directly on the roots.So this is what is killing the plant from the root up. I was wondering what I can do about this besides not planting them at all. We put ant traps in the flower beds and spray.

Answer from NGA
April 22, 2010


Marigolds are annuals and they naturally die down in the fall. August is a bit early for them to peter out, though. You can prolong their lives if you regularly snip off the faded flowers before they have a chance to set seeds. The ants may or may not be contributing to the early demise of your plants. This year try pruning off the spent flowers on a regular basis to keep the plants growing and producing. Here's how to control the ants: A good least-toxic method is the use of boric acid baits. Boric acid baits 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. Most ants feed either on sugars or on protein, fats, or oils. To see which type you have, place small dabs of jelly and peanut butter (not mixed) where ants are seen and watch which food they are attracted to. If they are attracted to the jelly, 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 the ants are attracted to peanut butter, use that for your bait rather than jelly. If you find many dead ants around the bait station, which ever bait you use, 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.

Good luck with your marigolds.

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