Are you concerned about the ants on your zucchini plants and wondering what you can do to get rid of them?
This article will show you five ways to eliminate ants from zucchini or squash plants without killing them (apart from #5, this will kill ants).
A few ants on your zucchini are nothing to worry about. They are not dangerous. More of a nuisance than a threat. The common garden ants are there for other reasons. They are not really interested in your zucchini or squash plant.
Are Ants Good For Zucchini Plants?
Before getting into your terminator mode, take a few seconds to understand these insects.
To have some ants in your garden is a normal thing. These omnivorous, opportunistic scavengers will roam around the garden looking for food. These food sources include dead or alive insects and their eggs or soft fruits like strawberries.
Most of the time, there are only a few small groups around the garden. Damage from a small number of ants is not a big deal and is considered more like a nuisance.
Few points on how ants are good for zucchini plants:
- Ants can slightly increase the pollination rates since they keep moving between plants.
- Ants improve soil health by aeration. They make tunnels that promote nutrient and water supply to the roots.
- Ants help decompose the dead organic matter, which can become food for zucchini plants.
Damage Caused By Ants On Zucchini Plants
Now, if you have an infestation, you may see some damage. Ants make tunnels. As mentioned previously, these tunnels are beneficial. However, there are cases when tunnels go through the roots of your zucchini which can cause some plants to wilt.
A few more drawbacks of having ants around your zucchini or squash plants are:
- They feed on nutritious seeds,
- They move seeds to their colony for storage.
- They feed on young flower buds.
- They might herd and protect apids that feed on plants sap.
How To Get Rid Of Ants On Zucchini Plants?
If you see an ant infestation and damage to your zucchini or squash plants, here are 5 ways to get rid of them.
- Control Aphids
- Remove Food Sources
- Grow Plants That Repel Ants
- Make Natural Ant Repellent
- Homemade Ant Bait Station
1. Control Aphids
If you see a few ants on your zucchini plant, there is nothing to worry about. Ants will not damage this vegetable. However, a large number of ants walking up and down the zucchini or squash plant could indicate that you have an aphid infestation.
Aphids are the main pest inviting ants. Aphid infestation will be visible on the underside of zucchini leaves or on the plants stem.
Ants and aphids have a symbiotic relationship that helps them both survive. Aphids drink plant juices while secreting a honeydew that ants feed upon. In return, ants protect aphids from predators.
The best ways to organically remove aphids are by using neem oil, garlic extract, horticultural oil, and insecticidal soap.
You can also remove these pests with a homemade soapy solution by mixing dish soap, water, and one tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Spray your plants with any of these solutions until you notice a decrease in the aphid population. With aphids removed from the zucchini plant, ants will not have any business being there… unless they use the plant to travel as a bridge.
Pro Tip: Aphids will come back eventually. Without biological control, they can infest your vegetables once more. If so, ants will come back too. To avoid this, invite beneficial insects to your garden, such as aphidius wasps, assassin bugs, hoverflies, ladybugs, lacewings, minute pirate bugs, and spiders. These beneficial insects will help to control the aphid population.
Read more about aphids in our article “Aphids – Identification and Control.“
2. Remove Food Sources
By controlling aphids, you are removing the largest food source for ants. However, ants are omnivorous, opportunistic scavengers. So, they can feed on food from both animal and plant origins. If there is a food source in your garden, the ants will find it.
Some food sources include ripe or rotten fruit (strawberries, apples, pears, plums, and many others), sweet-smelling flowers, and leftovers after barbeque or picnic.
If you want to control the ants, make sure to remove all food sources:
- Gather or eat ripe fruits,
- Clean up any fallen fruits before they start to rot,
- When composting fruits, bury them in compost rather than throwing them on top,
- Clean up after barbeques, picnics, or any other garden parties.
If there is anything around that ants can eat, it will attract them to your garden.
3. Grow Plants That Repel Ants
You can also grow other plants that will repel ants away from your zucchini and squash plants.
The easiest way is to grow plants with a pungent smell. Plants that have a strong but not sweet smell will repel the ants.
Growl plants such as cayenne, black pepper, rosemary, lavender, catnip, peppermint, mint, thyme, or tansy to repel ants.
Pro Tip: This method is not a quick fix if you grow all your plants from seeds. It will take time for the plants to grow (obviously). If you need to repel ants now, buy a grown plant from the local garden shop or use a different technique in this article until your plants grow.
4. Make Natural Ant Repellent
Another way of keeping ants away from your zucchini or squash plants is by making natural repellents. You can use natural substances that are known for repelling these insects.
Sprinkle some cinnamon, mint, chili pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cloves, garlic, or ground cinnamon in the area where you’ve seen the ants or around plants you want to protect.
You can also try this recipe of natural garlic homemade ant repellent sprays.
|Liquid Soap||1 tablespoon|
How to make it:
- Take 1 garlic head and cut the cloves into small pieces (the smaller, the better). Place the garlic paste into a bowl.
- Take a pot and boil some water.
- Add approx 500ml of boiling water on top of the cut garlic.
- Cover the mixture and leave it for 12 hours.
- Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove garlic bits.
- Discard the garlic bits (throw them into the compost).
- Take the liquid that passed through the sieve and add 1 tablespoon of liquid soap.
- Stir it all until the mixture looks uniform.
- And finally, pour it all into your spray bottle.
Spray plants with this mixture twice a week during the rainy season and once a week when it’s dry.
This spray is not a killing spray. It will not eliminate ants. However, a garlic stink will repel ants. It will also repel other insects.
5. Homemade Ant Bait Station
Be sure to try all other techniques first before you try this one.
If none of the above works, try a more aggressive way to eliminate ants. Make a homemade ant bait station.
You will need:
- Baking soda,
Steps on how to make the mixture are in the video below.
Place an ant bait station near the base of the zucchini or squash plants. After an hour or two, you should see ants inside the mixture.
Hopefully, the mentioned tips and tricks will help you to solve ants on zucchini plants.
Before you start, remember, to have some ants around your garden is beneficial.
If you enjoyed reading this article, check out other similar articles in our Gardening How To section.
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