Ants in your Plants

We’ve had quite a few queries in the past few days from customers worried about ants in their veg patch. They are definitely very active at the moment, and we’ve spotted a few flying ants, but are they something to worry about?

Ants don’t tend to cause much damage in the veg patch – mostly they crawl around looking for nectar – but they can be a real nuisance, especially when they start ‘farming’ aphids so that they can feed on the honeydew that the aphids secrete, and occasionally they can damage the roots of some crops if their nest and tunnels get in the way.

If they’re not causing any damage, then you can happily leave them to it. However, if they’ve made themselves at home in your raised beds and are causing a problem, here are our three recommendations:

  1. Keep beds well watered – ants prefer dry loose soil, so will naturally steer away from well watered crops and moist soil.
  2. To deter ants from crawling all over your beds, make a peppermint spray by adding a few drops of peppermint oil to a squirty bottle of water and spraying the solution thoroughly along the edges of the beds. You’ll need to do this fairly often for it to be effective.
  3. Get nature to do its thing by attracting lots of ant-eating wrens, sparrows and robins into the garden. (The robins are easy – just dig a few holes and they’ll soon find you, the worms and the ants!)

If things are really bad and you can find the nest (and if it is not right in the middle of your plants), then the best thing is to pour boiling water into the nest. You may need to do this a few times. However, it would definitely be better to choose one of the above options if you can so as not to harm/kill them.