Some ants can be beneficial to your garden. Others, like fire ants, can damage crops like Irish potatoes and okra.
Do Ants Damage Potatoes?
Some ants are known to eat and damage potatoes. Ants that live under the soil in colonies can damage the plant’s roots. Ant tunnels in your potato bed can drain your potato’s water, leaving your potatoes without sufficient water.
Why Are Ants All Over My Potato Plants?
Firstly, it’s normal to have ants in your garden. There can be ant colonies nearby, so they visit your garden in search of food.
However, the big reason behind ants invading your potato plants can be another tiny and harmful pest known as aphids! Though it may sound a little bit weird, some ants are known to have a mutually beneficial relationship with harmful pests, aphids! Have you ever heard of the term: “some ants farm aphids”? This is true.
Aphids drink plant juices. Their overfeeding itself is enough to damage a plant, but they are not stopping there. They can spread plant disease on your potatoes. One of the most amazing facts about aphids is that they produce honeydew.
Honeydew is a sweet, sugar-rich sticky byproduct that comes out of the aphid’s back passage. Ants, however, crave it, which is not quite hygienic! In exchange, they protect these tiny aphids from parasites and predators. This is how their mutual relationship takes place.
This is really one of the primary reasons why ants can be all over your potato plants. So, look closely, if you see tiny aphids on your potato plants, taking the right measures to stop aphid invasion should be your first priority.
Additionally, some flowers contain sweet nectar inside. This attracts ants. So, if you plant flowers like peonies or penstemon near your potato garden, chances are, the ants are invited by these flowers.
Also Read: How to Pick Potato Fertilizers
How to Keep Ants Out of Potato Plants?
There are several methods you can try to keep ants out of your potato garden. You don’t need to think of using harsh chemical products in the first place. There are some home remedies to keep ants out of your potato plants. Let’s take a look.
1. Getting Rid of Aphids
Like we said earlier, one of the main reasons why ants are invading your garden is aphids. If you notice a lot of ants in a small spot, consider taking a closer look. Most likely, you will find them feasting on honeydew. This is a clear indication that your garden is affected by aphids.
So, take proper measures to control aphids. This will be like hitting two birds with one stone. When the aphids are less, there will be fewer chances of spreading plant diseases and less honeydew. As a result, ants will move away, looking for food somewhere else.
2. Using Cinnamon Sticks
This is another mild way to get rid of ants in your garden. Cinnamon will help repel some ants. However, this may not work on all ant species.
3. Using Citrus Peels
Using citrus peels is another harmless way to battle ants. Ants don’t like strong citrus scents. You can simply leave some citrus peels where you notice ants in your garden.
4. Using Hot Pepper
You can blend some hot pepper with water and make a mash. You can spread this mash in the hot ant-activity zones. This odor can help get rid of the ants. Coffee grounds can also help prevent ant invasion. Simply sprinkle some coffee grounds in hot ant-activity zones.
5. Using Ant Repelling Oils
If you look closely, you will probably find an ant repellent in your kitchen cupboard. Some oils can help keep ants away from your potato garden. However, you need to try them out first and see how effectively they work. You can try some camphor, mint, or clove oil.
Some oils are proven to work as an ant repellent. So, you can also give it a try with cinnamon, peppermint, eucalyptus, and citrus oils.
Remember that like bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects, ants can act as effective pollinators. We, humans, have damaged nature so much that we put many of these pollinators in danger. You don’t want to add more to this list. That’s why instead of killing the entire colony of ants, try to use something that will drive them elsewhere.
6. Using Nontoxic Commercial Products
You can use some nontoxic chemical ant repellent to prevent ants from entering your potato garden. ‘Orange Guard’ is a good example of a nontoxic chemical ant repellent. Using organicrepellent will also be safer for your plants and pets.
You can spray the product around your plants so that ants do not enter the protected area. However, do not spray the product too close to the plant. And do not spray directly on the ants, this can kill the ants.
How Do I Get Rid of Ants in My Garden without Killing Plants?
Applying harsh chemical products can kill not only the ants but also damage your plants. If the product contains hazardous elements, it can affect your or your pet’s health as well. So, try to opt for organic products as much as you can.
You can use the homemade solutions that we discussed earlier. You can use essential oils, mint, cinnamon, coffee grounds, or other harmless methods. Plus, you may give it a try with nontoxic chemical repellents. Let us remind you again that many pollinators and other useful insects are threatened with extinction.
You shouldn’t be one who would accelerate the process. So, drive the ants away from your property instead of killing thousands of them.
A helpful guide:
How Do I Keep Ants Off My Potato Vine?
If you want to keep fire ants off your potato vines, you should take preventative steps instead of fighting ants. You can’t stand all day guarding your plants with an ant repellent spray in hand and spray right in the face when you see one!
So, you need to use strategies that will keep ants away from the potato vines. So, you can use cinnamon, mint, essential oils, etc. The strong scent will help keep the ants away.
But are you thinking about flowering potato vines? Are you having questions like: will the flowering vines attract more ants, or how do you keep ants off flowering potato vines? Our suggestions will be the same, implement preventative methods to keep ants away from your flowering potato vines.
Like other pollinators, ants can be helpful in pollinating your plants. However, some species do harm you and your plants. In this article, we discussed some easy ways to get rid of ants from your potato garden, without killing the entire colony. So, follow our guide to driving the ants away from your mouth-watering potatoes.