Avatar for JhawleyZone7A
Jun 2, 2020 8:00 AM CST
Middle TN Zone 7A
I have raised bed container gardens and I have ants moving in. Doing research I find one article that says they are beneficial and pose no threat and the next article says the spread disease down to the root.

If they need to eradicated how do I do it without running off the good guys like the lady bugs?


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Jun 2, 2020 8:42 AM CST
Name: Big Bill
Livonia Michigan (Zone 6a)
GROW ORCHIDS!!!
Bee Lover Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Region: Michigan Hostas Growing under artificial light
Echinacea Critters Allowed Cat Lover Butterflies Birds Region: United States of America
I really don't think that you can. Ants in general don't cause much in the way of damage in my experience.
In a world where we have thousands of insects per square meter and perhaps millions in a yard, there is no practical way to eliminate them.
And to be honest, I don't think that that is a good idea.

But if there are harmful insects such as squash vine borers destroying my zucchini plants then I would want to stop them.
But if insects appear here and there, I would be inclined to leave them alone. Insects are part of "the joys of gardening"!
Orchid lecturer, teacher and judge. Retired Wildlife Biologist. Supervisor of a nature preserve up until I retired.
Avatar for WAMcCormick
Jun 2, 2020 9:11 AM CST
Bryan, TX
Middle TN, that sounds like fire ant country. Fire ants can put a farmer out of business, or wish he was out of business. I have been dealing with them ever since they were imported.

In the garden I usually put laundry soap on mounds and wet it in thoroughly. By the end of the day two thirds of the ants will be dead. Within a week almost every one of them will be gone. I am not aware of any harmful effects the soap has in my garden.

I use it around my fig trees too. Fire ants can kill plants and small trees that have sweet sap. They cut into the roots and have a juice party. A few days ago I found two pea vines dying. Fire ants had eaten the "bark" off their stems close to the ground and were guzzling the vines' juice. So long to those devils. A dose of soap saved the other vines.
If it takes a long time to grow, remember that if nobody plants it, nobody has it.
Last edited by WAMcCormick Jun 2, 2020 9:17 AM Icon for preview
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Jun 2, 2020 10:30 AM CST
Name: James
North Louisiana (Zone 8b)
Adeniums Cactus and Succulents Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Growing under artificial light Ferns Garden Photography
Region: Louisiana Region: Gulf Coast Enjoys or suffers hot summers Critters Allowed Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Container Gardener
I agree what they said

Ants may "move in" if they have a "new resource"

Sometimes, but not always ...ants may show up if there are aphids around ....aphids and ants have a unique relationship ...
the aphids feed off plants - then secrete "honeydew" that the ants "harvest" and take back to their mounds ....In turn,
the ants protect the aphids from predators .....when ants are around aphids, they are unusually docile

look for aphids around new tender vegetation, at crotches of stems & under, and in folds of younger leaves ...where there is one, there is probably a colony ....
aphids are tiny - the size of a pin head, up to 1/4" ....and pear shape
they are usually bright yellow, but can be: black, brown, green, orange or red ... there may be more than one color in colonies

there are over 1,300 species of aphids - and some have the ability of flight during their life-cycle

Control the aphids and you control the ants .....

A jet spray from a hose nozzle will wash-off aphids ...but that could also damage tender vegetation

another option is using Insecticidal Soap - make certain one of the ingredients is: *fatty acids* ...available already mixed at garden centers in Big Box stores or
make your own homemade version .....there are many recipes for Insecticidal Soap

spray insecticidal soap, let dry, then wash off with water - once dry, insecticidal soap yield no benefits and may harm plant tissues if left on during a hot day (upper 80°+)
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