Ants and the good bugs

Ants tend aphids on citrus flower buds

Ants interfere with our insect allies

Some ants nurture the insects that suck the sap from plants, such as aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, and scale insects. The aphids and other Homopteran insects excrete much of the sap, which is mostly sugar and water, that they take in. This sweet excretion is called honeydew. Several ant species rely honeydew for food and they treat the insects that produce it as we treat our dairy cattle. The ants protect their 'cattle' from predators and they move them to areas where food is more abundant for the sucking insects.

Ants can't easily discriminate between the various predators and parasites in the insect world that are a direct threat to their 'cattle', so they attack any insect they identify as a predator or parasite. This general attack strategy results in the protection of not only the insects providing food for the ants but for other pests on the same plant, even if they don't provide anything for the ants.

Ants tend mealybugs and other Homopteran insects

Ants protect more than their cattle

The Argentine Ant is one of the most important of the ants that tend honeydew producing insects, but there are many others. If you find ant trails leading to an infestation of aphids, etc., these ants are tending this group of pests. Ant control in this situation is a must, since all the beneficial insects in your neighborhood are being prevented from doing their job of keeping pest numbers low on your plants.

The AntPro bait station easily restricts non-target organisms

Controlling these ants

The best system we have found for controlling ants is the KM AntPro bait station with Gourmet Ant Bait. These bait stations are durable and effectively exclude non-target organisms while providing a large, accessible resevoir of the boric acid and sugar bait.