Ants in greenhouse

Discussion in 'Greenhouse Growing' started by Bashy, Apr 22, 2008.

  1. Bashy

    Bashy Gardener

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    Hi,
    I built a small spacecaver greenhouse (6'x2') about a month ago. It's sitting on decking against a fence.
    I went out this morning to water my plants and have found there are quite a few ants on and around the plants.
    Will they harm the plants.
    I have quite a few plants in there I grew from seed which I intend on hardening and planting out within the next month. There are also some veg plug plants in there which I intend on leaving in the greenhouse over the summer (peppers, toms, aubergine, carrots...) will these be harmed by the ants or will they ruin them so they cannot be eaten?

    Cheers
     
  2. T Digger

    T Digger Gardener

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    Hello Bashy, I don't think ants are harmful to any kind of plant, in fact, they actually eat aphids so they can be beneficial. I seem to remember reading somewhere that ants 'farm' an aphid infestation so unless you are really overrun with them I wouldn't worry about them.
     
  3. shiney

    shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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    Your right that the ants rarely harm the plants but when they 'farm' them they sometimes bring the aphids (mainly blackfly) on to the plants so that the aphids can reproduce and the ants can milk them of the sticky substance they exude.

    It is better to keep an eye on the plants and wash off any aphids the moment they appear.
     
  4. walnut

    walnut Gardener

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    T D ants don't eat aphids,as Shiney says they farm them,they will even protect the aphids from attack by ladybird and lacewing larvae.
     
  5. Bashy

    Bashy Gardener

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    but kill or not to kill, that is the question ;-)
     
  6. AndyK

    AndyK Gardener

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    just make sure they dont crawl up into your pants!
     
  7. shiney

    shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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    Or your plants:p

    Don't kill them unless you have to. See whether washing them off deters them.
     
  8. walnut

    walnut Gardener

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    If they are going to transport aphids into your greenhouse then it would be wise to see them off.
     
  9. T Digger

    T Digger Gardener

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    Apologies for the unintended misinformation regarding the diet of ants, as I said, I had read that ants 'farmed' aphids and assumed that they did this to conserve the aphids as a source of food. Thanks to Walnut for putting me right on that, forums like this are as useful for correcting mistaken beliefs as for learning something new. T Digger.
     
  10. Bashy

    Bashy Gardener

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    No worries T Digger, and thanks to all for the helpful info about the little blighters.
    Have decided to get rid of them just to be on the safe side.
    Have heard somewhere that there is a substance (powdery) that when put down, the worker ants take it to the queen, then the queen eats it and dies, then the fight against the workers can start.
    Can anyone refresh my memory on the name of this substance. I think you can buy it in boots?
     
  11. walnut

    walnut Gardener

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  12. Bashy

    Bashy Gardener

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    Great stuff. thanks Walnut. I never would have remembered that!!
     
  13. Livinhope

    Livinhope Apprentice Gardener

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    I have a guilty conscience about the ants I wiped out last year. I’ll tell you all why, maybe you’ve witnessed the same thing. I had a piece of electric cable lying on the floor of my greenhouse which consists of paving slabs. One day I entered the greenhouse to find ants along the top of the cable with more ants up against the entire length of the cable and even more ants in front of them - just like an crowd at a football match. There was a clear channel between them and another mass of ants opposite. They were all in a state of excitement, milling and constantly moving. At the head of the clear channel was a solid circle of winged ants with non winged ones in agitated attendance. It looked like a celebration of some sort that put me in mind of the crowds in London waiting for a royal procession to start. I have since learned that ants are an intelligent species that live in an ordered society.
    I sprinkled ant killer on the ground, surrounding the different groups, with a clear pathway for them all to an upturned bucket. Then I went off to work. At lunch time I popped in for a look. Not a sign. I lifted the upturned bucket and there they were, huddled into a tight circle with the winged ones in the centre, all cringing from the deadly white powder that surrounded them. If I had left them they would have eventually died of starvation. So I gave them a quick death. I wiped them out. Afterwards, thinking how like people they had behaved, I regretted killing them. After all, they had done me no harm and were just getting on with their lives in their own little microcosm of our own society. Many will call me a soft sh*te, but I wish I hadn’t killed then. At present I’ve got a new colony living under the greenhouse paving slabs and coming out to investigate me when I go inside, but unless I see evidence that they are causing harm, I will leave them alone.
    Sorry for the long-winded post, but I’ve since developed a respect for the lives of the harmless.
     
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    • shiney

      shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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      Ants can be a nuisance in the wrong place, such as indoors, but I tend to leave them to their own devices outdoors. They rarely do any damage.

      I'm forever coming across ant nests when weeding and try not to disturb them if possible. This time of year, if you disturb a nest, you may see them frantically carrying their eggs to a 'safer' place.

      In our front lawn we have an area about 18" diameter that is a couple of inches above the surrounding lawn with the centre part being devoid of grass. It is an ant nest and friends sometimes ask why I don't dig it out, level the ground and reseed. My answer is that I have been here over 50 years, the nest was already there so they have prior ownership. :heehee: A lump in the lawn doesn't bother me :noidea:
       
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      • pete

        pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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        I've recently wiped out a nest but only because it was in one of bigger pot plants.
        They tunnel around the roots and the plants slowly die in those kind of cases, but as long as they are not doing any harm I leave them alone.
         
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