ants eating the little worms in my vegetable garden

Sunnygrl44(florida)May 8, 2014

Hi, I read alot of the posts about red ants in vegetable gardens and saw alot of helpful ideas, but nothing mentioned ants eating the beneficial worms in the soil. I went out to check my bush and pole beans the other day and noticed a slew of the little worms on the ground with ants all over them, and the worms were wiggling around helplessly. I watched the ants emerge from the soil with the worms, and I have used the DE several times. I have also noticed that my beans that started healthy and vibrant are now dying the leaves are being eaten by something and nothing but bare stems left.
I am wondering if maybe the seeds are the culprit? We used them last year and they were fine.
Thank you for any suggestions, I am thinking of starting them over again, but want to get rid of the ants first, but save the worms

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I pulled all the bean plants and found these tiny tiny little bugs all over the main root, and all the other roots that grow are eaten, I also found them in my spinach that was doing fine and it's like the plants are being eaten from the root up. I used the DE once again and not sure if that's going to work since I don't know what they are.
I also grew the beans last fall and never had any little worms and the beans did great, now I have these worms that I read were good for the soil and my plants are ruined.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 4:42PM
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Not sure if you had a previous thread where you mentioned these worms, but it would be good to see some pics.

Without knowing for sure about your worms and ants, I'll assume you might be talking about earth worms and fire ants. However, your comment about how the roots are gone, may refer to other kinds of bugs and worms.

Fire ants (big red ants) will eat earth worms and grubs if they get a chance to. This usually happens if the ant hill is nearby and some luckless worm moves near.

Since you don't yet know what is eating your garden, you may want to hold off on the DE. That is usually suggested for slugs and snails, since like you said, people would want worms around.

As for the growth of a plant, there are many unknown and unseen bugs and microbes that will interact with your plants. Unless you actually see damage or loss of the leaves or stalks or harvest, having these bugs nearby is not necessarily a cause for alarm.

Generally, you will need to identify the kind of damage they are doing (which may come from how the plant is disappearing or how it looks after being infected) and what they are, then you can have an idea on how to treat them.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 4:58PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

if you try a solution .. such as DE .. and it doesnt work ...

then throwing more on.. isnt going to work either...

its pretty benign with this stuff.. but if and when you get into the stuff thats a little more toxic [organic or not] ..... lets think about trying it once.. not repeatedly ...


ps: once a seed germinates.. it is no longer in the equation of success ... its job was done... so i dont know what you are suggesting about old seed ... it either germinates.. which yours did.. or it doesnt ....

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 5:18PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

> "Fire ants (big red ants)"

NO. Fire ants are little and brown, irascible, and attack in swarms.

The big red ants are "red ants" and are generally harmless (though they do pack a healthy bite).


    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 12:36PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Need pictures of damage please.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 5:40PM
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Thanks for the helpful replies, but the plants have been pulled and thrown away. The DE has not worked since as soon as it gets wet it is no longer useful. The little red ants are still plentiful in the soil. And the worms are still there but not as many. The worms came from a can of coffee grounds I was saving to mix in the soil for the nitrogen. I noticed a few people say coffee grounds deter ants, but it didn't work for me. I'm not sure where the worms came from but they grew in the can of grounds. They are little reddish colored worms, I think maybe red wigglers. Only about an inch long. We have decided that the weather here in central florida is getting too hot and humid to grow anything but okra. So I will wait until fall to plant again. But would like to know what to put in the soil to kill the ants before fall. As for the worms I think I might try to buy some earthworms for the soil once the ants are gone. It has been a learning experience growing vegetables here in Florida, still can't control the aphids that devour my squash and cauliflower, neam oil is unaffective it just doesn't work.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 6:58AM
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I also wanted to say that this forum has been very useful in finding answers to different problems with a garden. I have lived everywhere in the US and never had to deal with the issues I have had with a garden here in florida. We live near the gulf ocean and the salt in the air and dirt is just hard to deal with. We did grow tomatos and broccoli and green peppers during the winter with good success, so winter gardening is what we will do thanks for all the help

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 7:03AM
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