Ants are burrowing under my brassicas!
Two weeks ago, one of the kale plants in my garden bed wilted slowly and died. It was a fairly recent transplant so I didn't think anything of it-- that sometimes happens Then a second one collapsed a week later. Today, I noticed that a collard plant next to these two-- one that had been doing quite well until just days ago-- was wilting and collapsing as well! Clearly something was up!
Closer inspection revealed that the base of the collapsing collard plants was swarming with small black ants. They weren't climbing up it to the leaves at all-- and I didn't see any sign of aphids on the leaves or stem. They seemed to be digging down around the base of the collards, towards the roots. Moreover, there appeared to be ants all over the base of the nearby kales/collards as well-- even the ones that still seemed healthy. Again, they seemed to be digging down into the soil around the base of the stems.
I've something of a novice gardener, but have never before heard of ants attacking plant roots themselves. My guess is that there maybe something else down there eating the roots-- and the ants are going after that other pest..... but I did a bit of poking around in the soil around the collapsed kales and saw nothing but more ants.
Any thoughts on what's going on or how to protect the remaining collards/kales in that bed?