Ants, ants, ants!

island(9)September 10, 2012

A few months ago I added a couple of new star jasmine vines on trellis along a fence. They're doing beautifully, healthy and growing very well, but lately I've been finding some aphids on the new growth and lots of ants crawling on the vines and the trellis, probably farming the aphids.

I've been blasting them with water and spraying with organic insecticidal soap when I see them which has kept the aphids under control, but the ants keep coming back. I don't see any hills or a crazy amount on the sidewalks or elsewhere.

I know I won't get rid of the aphids until I get rid of the ants, but how? I've been trying to be a good little gardener this year, removing spent blooms elsewhere, feeding and watering and trimming, but the better I treat the plants the worse the insects. I read nitrogen attracts aphids so no more Miracle Gro or food.

Any suggestions for the ants? Thanks.

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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Do you think the aphids will kill or stunt your new plants? If not, you may not have to take any action.

It sounds like you will not be able to use tanglefoot, since they are growing on a fence and the ants will just use the fence to access the aphids.

If you think they will be stunted, then I would spray ant poison at the base of each one, once, just to let the jasmines get established. Once they are bigger they will be able to handle the aphid predation. I know you don't want to do that, but that's what I would do. I once resorted to Malathion on a baby citrus tree because of a horrible aphid infestation, and I never had to use it again.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 2:47PM
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Didn't want to ignore the aphids because I didn't want them to get out of hand and possibly spread elsewhere. Most of these vines are already 4' with some lengths over the top of the 6' fence so seems pretty well established. By "able to handle" you mean you expect they'll just go away on their own once the plants grow more??


    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 3:16PM
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Have you tried diatomaceous earth powder? It kills all insects, will not harm earthworms.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 6:32PM
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island - I try to be an organic gardener as much as possible, so a few notes. When you use chemical fertilizers, like the Miracle Gro, it shoots up the plant so fast and causes rapid growth, which makes the plants weak (in terms of their cell structure) and thus susceptible to insects, such as ants. We like to think of feeding the soil and not the plant. I have had ant problems a year ago on my citrus. I ended up using a powder product (chemical) which took care of the problem. I don't remember the name, but I'll try to look in my garage tonight when I came home. It was very very easy to use and very very effective.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 6:34PM
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Bob_B(Sunset 14, Ca.)

Unless you are anti-insecticide, I suggest you follow up on Renee's advice. Malathion will get rid of your problem. You may have to add a few drops of detergent to your spray solution to get the malathion to stick to the glossy leaved star jasmine. "Home Defense" (at Home Depot)sprayed around the base of the plant will keep the ants from returning.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 8:28PM
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Tinan. Diatomaceous earth powder? I think that's what we put in our pool filter after it's backwashed. One and the same? Never heard of it for plants, but I'll check it out. Thanks.

Thanks Karin, didn't realize that Miracle Gro, never had a problem with it before. What do you feed your plants? Would appreciate the name of that chemical powder if you find it. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 8:29PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

I've used Diatomaceous earth and it does work, but rain or water spray lessens its effectiveness.

I bait ant traps with Terro liquid ant killer. It is hands-down the best and most effective ant killer I've used. Doesn't hurt anything else.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 9:41PM
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Yes DE can be used in the garden, I mostly use it where my cats hang out in their enclosed garden to prevent fleas.

jkom51 is right the Terro baits are excellent specifically for ants, we were invaded one year when it started to rain and the ants decided our apartment was better than outside. The Terro baits took care of them, I placed one in the bathroom cupboard (out of reach of our cats) and a few outside. The ants were gone i a day or so. But, I hear some types of ants like the Argentine ants can be very difficult to eradicate with chemicals.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 10:48PM
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home_grower(SoCal Z9 S18)

I like spectracide bug stop for the argentine ants. It doesn't smell bad and it stops them instantly. It also keeps them from returning for quite a while. I would spray it in a circle round the area.

I use it about once a month around the parimeter of the house and it keeps them from enterning.

The last gallon I bought came with a battery powered pump. Talk about making the job easier and fun too.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 1:24AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Please use extreme caution when working with food-grade DE. It is made up of tiny little glass-like skeletons of diatoms. Do not breathe it into your lungs. Even though you can eat it, you should not breathe it in, it is like fiberglass or asbestos fibers, very bad. It has been promoted as a wonder and a cure for everything from lice infestations on chickens to ant control, but it is not something to be used lightly. It goes *POOF* into the air when you try to shake it out of the bag.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 11:36PM
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Hi island, Sorry it took so long to get back to you. The product that I use for ants is GreenLight Many Purpose Dust. I use just a very small amount and it does the trick. I've been very happy with it, since I started using it four years ago. Incidentally I think GreenLight is by the same company that does Miracle Grow.

Regarding the Miracle Grow, chemical fertilizers feed the plants with a sudden rush of growth. This makes the cell structure weak. So if you take the approach of feeding the soil and not the plant, the plant gets what it needs anytime it needs it. Ways to feed the soil are with alfalfa. I get mine at the feed store and just spread the pellets around. I try to make sure each area, including the lawns, get it twice a year. I also use soybean, which I get at the feed store. And all my grass clippings go back into the garden. And I can tell you people stop by all the time just to see the garden and how well the plants are doing. And it is so easy to do.


Here is a link that might be useful: Many Purpose Dust

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 12:48PM
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Thanks Karin, very helpful!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 10:15PM
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