Ants

Symptoms

Container-grown plants start to wilt. When you check the pot you notice ant tunnels, and that compost has been moved away from the plant's roots. On the lawn or between the cracks in paving slabs, heaps of fine soil appear.
Find it on: no real damage is caused to any plant
Time to act: spring, summer, autumn

Overview

Of the black, red and yellow ants that are commonly seen in the garden, only the red ones (from the Myrmica species) sting. Other than that, ants are more of a nuisance than a pest. They feed mostly on insects, including other ants, and honeydew, the sweet sticky substance that aphids excrete. Ants are known to defend aphids against predators in return for a harvest of honeydew.
Solution
Container-grown plants start to wilt. When you check the pot you notice ant tunnels, and that compost has been moved away from the plant's roots. On the lawn or between the cracks in paving slabs, heaps of fine soil appear.
Organic
Ants are persistent and it's almost impossible to eliminate them in the garden. You can flush them out from containers by giving the compost a thorough drenching with water. Repeat as necessary, although take care not to drown your plants!

Keep ants off the benches in a greenhouse by wrapping a grease band around each bench leg, or standing the legs on a block of wood in a dish of water. Use a stiff brush to remove ant hills in the lawn.
Chemical
There are many ant killer products on the market, but they are mostly more effective at killing ants that stray indoors, than complete nests in the garden.



Discuss this problem

Talkback: Ants
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

kaycurtis 24/11/2011 at 15:27

those red ants are evil , when they get you, they really sting. I have colonies all over my garden, black near the house and red from half way down the garden, I don't know why they like my heavy clay so much, they must have to work even harder, wish they would do more sifting for me and save me the trouble. on the whole I don't mind them but in the pots they are a bit of a problem.

poodiecat 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Ground cinnamon. Did wonders in my Mum's garden!

democrat 24/11/2011 at 15:28

is it correct to treat rust on hollyhocks with epsom sallts

Sparkimarj 24/11/2011 at 15:28

I have lots of ant colonies under crazy paved car parking space. It seems to me that they displace the sand and mortar and I wonder if there are great spaces underneath my drive which will collapse eventually - any comments on this?

h0n3y5uckl3 24/11/2011 at 15:28

I have been told that Ivy attracts ants,espcially red ants and that Penny Royal is a good deterant??

See more comments...