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Apr 7, 2016 12:52 PM CST
|Ants are increasingly numerous around where I live. I'm talking about the tiny red ones that sometimes come into the house, maybe they're called Sugar Ants but I'm not sure. They will destroy Brassica starts if left unchecked. I have been vigilant this year and sure enough they began their mischief attacking my Collards and Kale roots. So I'm killing them in that part of the veg garden.|
I have also noticed them in a couple of semps, as you can see below. The tell-tale mounds of fine soil have alerted me to their activities. Need I worry? The fact that they set up shop right underneath each plant seems like trouble to me. Anybody else with these issue? I don't know if these ants are for killing or if I should just live and let live.
Apr 8, 2016 4:52 PM CST
|Hey there Tim.|
I have been finding them under plants that I have been moving. Seems every spring I find them under plants. I have never had them harm any of my plants. I think they winter over under them for protection.
And they can be feeding on or farming colonies of other pests, like aphids and such.
Apr 10, 2016 9:40 AM CST
|Hmmmm... no harm no foul I guess. Innocent until proven guilty I suppose. They don't seem to be doing any harm to the semps... yet... but I'll be keeping an eye on the situation. But I do have to kill them all where I grow Collards and Kale because the ants will destroy those plants if left alone. And where would I be without my fresh greens?|
Apr 10, 2016 9:40 PM CST
|Tim if you check it closely you will notice the ants are not eating your collards, they are farming the hidden aphids that are sucking the life out of the plants. I know, I had that happen. Now if I see ants on the collards I go looking for the aphids, sure enough there they are. I give them a good blast of water and that seems to keep the aphids at bay. |
I love collards. Yummmmm
Apr 11, 2016 10:35 AM CST
|Not so much for discussion here, but suffice to say I have spent extensive time and effort observing and analyzing ant activity on my young Collard, Kale and Cauliflower plants. The ants underground chew on and ruin the main stem, causing wilt and collapse of the plant. Here are some examples.|
Why they do it I cannot say, but I know they do it as I have watched. Getting rid of the ants results in this:
I do use Soy Bean meal as a fertilizer and that may initially attract the ants who then work their mischief. Next year I won't do that and see what happens.
Apr 11, 2016 10:44 AM CST
|Tim I can see some very tiny white dots in your photo, in the soil around the roots. Check them out.|
Apr 11, 2016 4:14 PM CST
|Bin dar, dun dat. Scoured with a high powered magnifying glass. Not this year though yet.|
May 30, 2016 10:44 PM CST
|Tim I have this problem on some brasicas too. The systemic that i use for root aphid on semps cannot be used on food crops. I have never had a problem with these tiny ants before. What to do?????|
May 31, 2016 1:32 AM CST
|I can't believe how many ants there are this year! It's not unusual to come across 1 or 2 anthills in the yard or garden each year, but I've already found 7 pretty large ones! Some of the ants are black, some tiny red ones and some medium sized red ones. The hills are about 12-18" across, and in my perennial garden they almost covered one of my plants as it was coming up this year as the hill was about 6" high. I usually don't have a problem with them, but not happy about it this year.|
Cubits Store: The Sempervivum Patch - plants, containers, accessories!
Also stop by Timber Treasures and Garden Buddies on Cubits
May 31, 2016 8:04 AM CST
|Same here Chris and Jo Ann. The ants are everywhere. All of mine are the tiny dark ants.|
May 31, 2016 9:33 AM CST
|Anthills everywhere here. When I am out on my daily walks around the neighborhood I see many hills emerging from the cracks and joints of sidewalks. I suspect this undermines the sidewalks to a certain extent.|
I also found a hill emerging from the base of my foundation and also where the driveway and apron connect. They got the boiling water treatment.
The lack of a true winter is probably behind this phenomenon.
May 31, 2016 10:22 AM CST
|Yes, the ant population seems to have exploded in the last couple years. I don't know why. Maybe mild winters but we have had numerous, serious, record-breaking cold events recently. But not this last winter for sure.|
My ants are small brown ants that I believe to be Sugar Ants. They are everywhere except indoors. Oddly enough, in the past that's the only place they bothered me. These are likely the same ones Lynn has.
I use soybean meal for fertilizer in my vegetable garden. As soon as I work in into the soil I can look down and see it all walking away. Closer inspection reveals an ant under each grain of meal. What's left is food for the Finches. I may have to get better at burying the fertilizer instead of top working it.
My Collards are now out of the woods ant-wise. If they can grow large enough the ants seem to lose interest. Along the way I lost a dozen plants. One strategy I use is water, plenty of it. These ants prefer a dry environment and seek sheltered nest sites. So I make a muddy slurry around the Brassica stems which seems to keep them from taking up residence there.
I had one Collard plant that I was trying to save from the ants. It was the last one left that was still under siege, and the ants would mass on the stem just above ground. I would come along and smash the ants off and maybe muddy up the area. Minutes later they would be back. It was basically wash, rinse and repeat. This went on for two days until I got a bright idea. I mounded some mud up around the stem to cover it and hopefully protect it from ants. Worked like a charm, immediately and permanently.
What I have learned. The ants are doggedly determined to eat/destroy the lower stem section of the plant above the roots and below the leaves. This portion is partly above ground level, partly below. Protecting this is paramount. Going forward I will plant my Brassica starts down into the soil so that the first leaf stems are buried. I think mounding soil up will work just as well. The soil around each plant is then made soupy wet on a regular basis to deter underground ant activity, and there will be nothing above ground that they want. Fortunately, Brassicas tolerate both deep planting and wet conditions.
I can see ant activity within semp plants here and there. All of their excavated soil gets pushed up in and around the plant. Easy enough to wash away. No harm, no foul... so far.
Jun 1, 2016 3:04 PM CST
|Ooohh, the blow by blow by Tim Cosell...Interesting Report.|
"The ultimate victory in competition gardening is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give." Howard Cosell
Jun 1, 2016 4:40 PM CST
I can hear his voice just seeing the name in print.
Jun 1, 2016 5:38 PM CST
|Well... someone did ask about how to deal with this very situation.|
Jun 1, 2016 7:05 PM CST
Jun 1, 2016 7:57 PM CST
webesemps said:Whoops, sorry!
Not at all! Seems like I was put in good company.
Jun 1, 2016 10:25 PM CST
|Tim it seems as though my ant population might be diminishing.|
Ohio (Zone 5a)
Jun 2, 2016 6:55 PM CST
|Tim, several years ago I had a beautiful strawberry jar full of semps. There were several different varieties in there, and it was a few years old with no problems. One year an ant colony moved in, and they killed every plant in there within a month. There were no other problems with the plants. This is the only time I ever had this happen, but it did. I have had ants in my plants before with no damage, but they got those ones.|
My sister swears by Bayer's spray, but I have never used it. She takes her houseplants out for the summer, and when she brought them in, they were full of ants. She said the Bayer's knocked the ants right out with no damage to the plants. I don't know about using it on veggies, though, I'm funny about that.