Ants & Black Spots on Artichokes - Knowledgebase Question

San Diego, Ca
Question by culbertson_d
June 21, 2010
This is the first year my artichoke plant is producing artichokes. I know ants are beneficial to some plants, like Peonies, but are they good or bad for artichokes? Are the black spots and ants normal? If they are bad for the plant what is the best way to get rid of them?

Answer from NGA
June 21, 2010


Ants crawling on your artichokes are a sign that aphids are present. Some ant species protect aphids, moving them from plant to plant, and even taking them underground into the anthill for overnight safety. The ants do this to ensure a supply of honeydew, a sugary substance secreted by the aphids, on which the ants feed. Discourage aphids by hosing them off your plants with a strong steam of water or spraying with insecticidal soap. Ants will probably move on when there are no more aphids to herd. If the ants are persistent even when you've controlled the aphid population you may want to set out some bait. 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, 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 artichoke plants.

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