Ants eating the leaves of my yord long beans and eggplant.

hlily(z5 IL)June 13, 2005

There are a lot of ants (black big ones) at one end of my vegetable patch eating the leaves of these 2 plants. What can I do to get rid of the ants?



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sanWang(z6 MD)

Are you sure they are eating the leaves, or just fooling around? I don't think ants will hurt anything. I would shake the plants to chase them away, they may come back, but as I said they generally don't do no harm to the plants.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 10:23AM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

Most ants do not 'eat' leaves - there are such things as leafcutter ants ( & they don't eat leaves, just cut chunks out of 'em), but I thought they only lived in the rainforest???

Are you sure they are ants?Or could somebody else be eating the leaves & the ants are there for some other reason?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 1:04AM
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Heidi_mo(z6 MO)

We are also having a terrible time with ants in our garden as well as our house. They are small and black. They've chewed up two hundred foot rows of potato vines, and eaten holes in the potatoes. They killed all our broccoli plants by chewing up the base of the plants. They are multiplying by the millions. Every square inch of our yard and garden is infested with them. I have to put the dogs food dish in another dish of water to keep them out. We had an entemologist come to look at them. He was certain they weren't really eating our plants until he saw the evidence himself. But of course all he could suggest was spraying poison. We garden organically, but even if we didn't, how can you spray 70 acres with poison without killing every living thing including yourselves? They attack and kill earthworms and other insects. Some night they might get us in our beds!!! If I ever find a solution I'll certainly pass along the info, if I don't get dragged off by the ants from Hell.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 6:15PM
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flowermum(South Z7)

Heidi, I have found that baby powder works great at keeping ants at bay in the home and it also smells great (I use the Equate baby powder brand.) I was the brilliant genius who introduced ants into my flowerbeds. I never had an ant problem until a month ago. I used mulch from last year that was stored in the backyard. I called myself saving money by using the mulch I already had. Well, now that my beds are full of ants I would gladly have paid any price for mulch to have avoided this problem. I've heard that cinnamon works well at repelling ants in the garden, so I will try this method as I detest poisons also. I will let you know if this works for me.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2005 at 12:42PM
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Heidi_mo(z6 MO)

Thanks for the baby powder tip - I can try that in the house. Someone also said Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap mixed with a little essential oil and water works as a spray. I also found a sight online called epest that carries large commercial sized ant traps for orchards and gardens. The bait used is disodium octoborate tetrahydrate which is boric acid. Care must be taken in handling it, of course, but it's much less toxic than most chemical pesticides, and was listed in Texas as one of the safest products to use in schools for insect control. These traps and bait aren't cheap, 4 traps plus 1 gallon of bait is $107, but 4 traps are supposed to treat an acre, and if you garden commercially as we do, they may be worth a try. We lost several hundred dollars worth of vegetables this year already. I hope to have a good fall garden, we love to grow oriental greens of all kinds, and they do well in fall.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2005 at 4:56PM
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Many solutions for getting rid of ants in the garden and more:

Here is a link that might be useful: Getting Rid of Ants

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 6:04PM
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I have Kentucky Wonder pole beans and yard long Chinese beans intermixed in a row. The black bodied red headed ants are on the yard long beans only. They are not eating but appear to be licking the secretions from the blossom stems. The beans set and grow nicely even with the ants. I suspect an evolutionary coexistence, the ants protect the beans, the beans feed the ants. They do not go near the intemixed Kentucky Wonder beans. The ants are vicious and defend the yard long plant so I debate cutting down the yard long beans before they decide to try other plants. Observing them is fascinating. I must buy Wilsons book on ants.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2007 at 1:15PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I will second Civil84's observations regarding ants on yardlongs. The ants' presence on them is benign, unless the ants being attracted are carpenter ants (which can be destructive) or they are farming aphids. Something else is chewing the plants... beetles (Striped or Spotted Cucumber, Bean, or Colorado Potato) would be my first guess. Cucumber beetles are doing a number on my entire garden this year.

All cowpeas (yardlongs are just a sub-species of cowpea) have pads on their flower stalks, one for each set of blossoms. These produce a substance that is very attractive to several types of insects; wasps, ladybugs - and ants.

There is obviously some evolutionary reason for nectar production _outside_ the flower; perhaps for the symbiotic protective relationship with ants suggested by Civil, perhaps for some other organism in their native environment. The ants are certainly very protective of the plants.

But on a side note, the wasps that feed there seem very docile; I have never been stung, even while harvesting. They appear to be intoxicated.

Ladybug adults also feed from the pads, in large numbers. It has been mentioned on other threads how hard it is to keep ladybugs (especially released ones) within the garden. Providing them a good food source is helpful - I believe that the large population in my garden each year is due (at least in part) to the large numbers of yardlongs & cowpeas that I grow.

So to make that long(bean) story short, don't be too hasty in pulling up your yardlongs. They keep many beneficial insects in the garden. In fact, try to plant them as early as possible, from transplants if necessary... they will not begin attracting ladybugs, for example, until they bloom.

As for the eggplant... ants are not normally attracted to them, so I suspect that they are carrying aphids there. Inspect the leaf undersides; if you find aphids, refer to the thread below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Holy Cow - It's a microscopic zoo!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2007 at 3:33PM
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What you need is a "poison" that won't kill the ants instantly but one that they will bring back to the anthill and spread the poison in there, having maximum efficiency.
Also if you know where they come from drown them.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 7:01AM
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I am amazed at the amount of articles that claim it's not the ants. I live in Florida. It is the ants. They ate all my corn from the inside out every single ear, and now they have turned on the tomatoes. The garden is almost done for the season at which time I will have to treat the whole yard with a bait type pesticide.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 9:23PM
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Before any one spends hundreds of dollars on manufactured boric acid bait, just buy a box of 20 Mule Team borax in the laundry section of your grocery store. You can also buy actual boric acid in some stores, I think Rexall drugstore has it.

Mix some borax with sugar and water, and some with grease. You can add some flour to the mix to shape it, or bread crumbs, or grind up sunflower seeds if you also want to kill earwigs, which love sunflowers. Put a large ball of each kind of bait, the sugar bait and the grease bait, into either side of a concrete block. Have the block set on twigs so the bugs can get underneath easily. Put a board and rock over the top so dogs can't get it, not that the borax would hurt them even if they did eat it but you would have to replace the bait.

You can leave it there for years. I hardly ever see earwigs or ants anymore.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 9:55PM
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My yard long beans and pole beans are side by side and the ants are infestinng only the yard long beans. But it does appear that they are feeding off a sticky substance all over teh whole plant stems and fruits alike. I dont beleice that are eating the plants as the pods are continuing to produce and grow. I tried sparaying soapy water. I dont know if it is effective yet. Does any one know how often do I repeat the soap spraying?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2011 at 8:36AM
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