Ants

May 12, 2010 at 9:11 pm Leave a comment

Many insects venture through our gardens and some are wanted while others are not.  Some insects are not that easy to classify as friend or enemy when it comes to your garden plants.  Ants are a perfect example of these types of insects.  There are many different species of ants and they come in many different shapes, colours, and sizes. All ants have three body segments and they are a head, thorax, and abdomen.   Ants are considered social insects in that they live in large colonies and consist of a queen, workers, and immature ants.  Worker ants support the queen and she lays all of the eggs in the colony.  Ants experience complete metamorphosis, which means that eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults are always present in the colony (University of Guelph, 2010).

When are ants considered pests?  There is no easy answer to this question but usually ants are considered pests when they leave the garden and enter our homes (searching for available food sources).  Ants create nests (i.e anthills) that sometimes can damage soil structure, and in return loosen the soil around young plants (roots will dry out and the plants will eventually die).  Ants also help maintain colonies of aphids which are another garden menace.  Ants receive honeydew from aphids and in return protect them from predators such as ladybugs.

When are ants considered as garden protectors??   Ants are helpful in that they can help aerate the soil through the creation of their tunnels and help remove unwanted pests such as white grubs.

How do you control ants?  There are many methods of ant control available to gardeners.  If a large anthill is situated on your driveway the solution would be to pour boiling water over the anthill (this would have to be repeated several times to make its way into the colony).  If ants are in your garden bed, irrigate the soil as ants do not like wet ground.  Removing rotting organic matter from your garden beds will also decrease ant numbers as ants love organic matter.  Planting aromatic plants such as lavender, mint, and garlic in and around the garden will repel ants away.  The most effective way to remove an ant colony is to kill the queen.  Leaving out bait stations with a 50:50 mixture of sugar and borax is one such way to achieve this goal (Green, 2010).  The ants will be attracted to the sugar and will take the bait back to the queen and eventually poison her.  This method is probably more suitable to indoor ant problems as borax can kill your garden plants.  Please check out the references below for more helpful information on ants and ant control.

A. Mohamed

References

City of Ottawa “Ants in the lawn and garden” http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/healthy_lawns/lawns/links/ants_en.pdf Accessed on May 7, 2010.

Green D. Beginner Gardening “ Garden Ants and how to control them” http://www.beginner-gardening.com/garden-ants.html Accessed on May 7, 2010.

Montreal Insectarium “Ants in the lawn, ants in the house” http://www.ville.rosemere.qc.ca/telechargement/environment_6_-_ants.pdf Accessed on May 7, 2010.

University of Guelph’s Pest Diagnostic Clinic “ Common Ants in Ontario” http://www.uoguelph.ca/labserv/units/pdc/files/125Ants.pdf Accessed on May 7, 2010

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Entry filed under: Bugs, Pests. Tags: , , .

Perennial Gardens Aphids

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