We hope you have enjoyed the SRGC Forum. You can make a Paypal donation to the SRGC by clicking the above button

Author Topic: Ants in the rock garden.  (Read 3644 times)

Jupiter

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1409
  • Country: au
  • Summers too hot, too dry and too long.
    • https://www.flickr.com/photos/jstonor/
Ants in the rock garden.
« on: December 23, 2015, 03:48:15 AM »

I'm noticing a lot of ant activity in the rock garden at the moment, which doesn't seem to be impacting negatively on the plants at this stage. I'm just not sure whether to let it go and keep an eye on it or act now and bait them... It's a tricky one, in a sense they should be on my side, attacking plant pests, aphids, caterpillars etc. but on the other hand I've read here that people have trouble with them damaging plant roots. Any comments?

Jamus Stonor, in the hills behind Adelaide, South Australia.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jstonor/

Steve Garvie

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1623
  • Country: scotland
    • Rainbirder's photostream
Re: Ants in the rock garden.
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2015, 07:11:55 AM »
I would be very wary.
Depending on the species and circumstances many ant colonies will actively farm aphids and other sapsuckers. The ants produce "sedating secretions" which subdue aphids and reduce their movement resulting in higher local concentrations. They also nip off the wings of any winged aphids and protect their herds from predatory insects. The aphid herds are "milked" for sugary secretions and harvested as a protein source.

Whilst fascinating to observe the collateral damage to your plants may prove too great.
WILDLIFE PHOTOSTREAM: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rainbirder/


Steve
West Fife, Scotland.

Jupiter

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1409
  • Country: au
  • Summers too hot, too dry and too long.
    • https://www.flickr.com/photos/jstonor/
Re: Ants in the rock garden.
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2015, 08:35:27 AM »
Thanks Steve, I'm considering baiting them starting tomorrow. I've already had aphids on some of my irises.

Jamus Stonor, in the hills behind Adelaide, South Australia.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jstonor/

fermi de Sousa

  • Far flung friendly fyzzio
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7418
  • Country: au
Re: Ants in the rock garden.
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2015, 11:59:04 AM »
Some cures are worse than the disease :-\
cheers
fermi
Mr Fermi de Sousa, Redesdale,
Victoria, Australia

David Nicholson

  • Hawkeye
  • Journal Access Group
  • Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 13117
  • Country: england
  • Why can't I play like Clapton
Re: Ants in the rock garden.
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2015, 12:46:41 PM »
I think when you've got them you've got for them for all time, whatever you try to do. My front garden is full of them in the Summertime.  The worst patches, where I think I might have a nest and where there are no plants to damage I treat with boiling water. The rest I spray liberally but I'm never clear of them.
David Nicholson
in Devon, UK  Zone 9b
"Victims of satire who are overly defensive, who cry "foul" or just winge to high heaven, might take pause and consider what exactly it is that leaves them so sensitive, when they were happy with satire when they were on the side dishing it out"

Maggi Young

  • Forum Dogsbody
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 44720
  • Country: scotland
  • "There's often a clue"
    • International Rock Gardener e-magazine
Re: Ants in the rock garden.
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2015, 01:03:02 PM »
Some cures are worse than the disease :-\
cheers
fermi

 I love Errol - I won't hear a word against him!
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

Editor: International Rock Gardener e-magazine

Richard Green

  • Journal Access Group
  • Sr. Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 333
  • Country: scotland
  • SRGC Treasurer
Re: Ants in the rock garden.
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2015, 01:12:42 PM »
I had ants in a polystyrene fish box trough this past summer.  They climbed up the concrete block the trough was sitting on, and chewed past the plastic mesh I had left covering the inside of the drainage holes to set up home inside.

The ants built large mounds of soil over the cushion plants whilst I was away for a fortnight on holiday.  I see they are starting to do this to yours.  Then birds began tearing up the plants to get at the ants, and scattering pieces around.

Ant Killer powder had no effect, so at that point I removed the plants, tipped out the whole trough onto a plastic sheet and left the birds to feast for a couple of days.  I repotted the trough and have had no trouble since, and suggest you do the same.  At least I have plenty of Saxifrage cuttings coming on nicely now from replanting the bits scattered around!
Richard Green - Balfron Station, West Central Scotland

Neil

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 621
  • Country: england
  • Hardy Orchid Grower
    • The Hardy Orchid Society
Re: Ants in the rock garden.
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2015, 07:47:50 PM »
Use Ant Stop, https://www.lovethegarden.com/products/pests-disease/home-defence-ant-stop-granules , they also make it as bait station and a spray, but I found the granules best either scatter them around the ground and wait for rain, or mix them into a watering can and water the ground.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2015, 07:54:30 PM by Neil »
Interested in Hardy Orchids then join The Hardy Orchid Society
Wanted Hardy Orchid Seed please pm me if you have some that you can spare
Sussex, England, UK Zone 9a

partisangardener

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 570
    • Luther Art
Re: Ants in the rock garden.
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2016, 02:35:14 PM »
I would be very wary.
Depending on the species and circumstances many ant colonies will actively farm aphids and other sapsuckers. The ants produce "sedating secretions" which subdue aphids and reduce their movement resulting in higher local concentrations. They also nip off the wings of any winged aphids and protect their herds from predatory insects. The aphid herds are "milked" for sugary secretions and harvested as a protein source.

Whilst fascinating to observe the collateral damage to your plants may prove too great.

I would like some sources of the mentioned facts. Like seducing or nipping of wings of aphids.
The sugar will be used by ants, but if not, sprinkled all over, resulting in a lot of black mold everywhere. The sap contains too much sugar for the aphids and to little protein so the excess has to get out.
greetings from Bayreuth/Germany zone 6b (340 m)
Axel
sorry I am no native speaker, just picked it up.

Jupiter

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1409
  • Country: au
  • Summers too hot, too dry and too long.
    • https://www.flickr.com/photos/jstonor/
Re: Ants in the rock garden.
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2016, 08:48:22 PM »

Well the little Gentiana pictured above is now D.E.A.D. You were right, wise forumists. Although I can't be sure that the ants were directly responsible it was a healthy little plant before they turned up. I will be more careful in future and purchase myself some poisonous prescription (for the ants not for me).
Jamus Stonor, in the hills behind Adelaide, South Australia.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jstonor/

Cfred72

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 662
  • Country: be
Re: Ants in the rock garden.
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2016, 07:02:49 AM »
All ants are not the breeding of aphids. Black mold in question is called "sooty mold". Last year, I had an ant colony that had invaded a pot Pleiones. There they stood larvae, probably made it warmer in the pot. The Pleiones did not suffer at all ...
It depends on the species of ant ... And god know that there are in the world ...
Frédéric Catoul, Amay en Hesbaye, partie francophone de la Belgique.

Steve Garvie

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1623
  • Country: scotland
    • Rainbirder's photostream
Re: Ants in the rock garden.
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2016, 08:56:47 AM »
I would like some sources of the mentioned facts. Like seducing or nipping of wings of aphids.
The sugar will be used by ants, but if not, sprinkled all over, resulting in a lot of black mold everywhere. The sap contains too much sugar for the aphids and to little protein so the excess has to get out.

A quick google search should provide some links to suitable research documenting these behaviours but here is a link to a newspaper article which brings some of it together. There are risks using any newspaper as a source of reliable verified scientific research but the underlying work reported would seem to be valid: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/3309936/Ants-subdue-their-aphid-prey-with-drugs.html

WILDLIFE PHOTOSTREAM: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rainbirder/


Steve
West Fife, Scotland.

partisangardener

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 570
    • Luther Art
Re: Ants in the rock garden.
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2016, 05:21:11 PM »
Anything said about "ants" in a newspaper  is without mentioning the species as good as a scientific finding like mammals produce radioactive dumps.
Some aphid species are products of a very long co evolution so it is no wonder that some feel more safe with their partner species.
Without their herdswoman they would be much less plentiful or even non existent.
Maybe some ant species even select for good health and mostly the ones with parasites or a disease get killed.

In our climate is a species lasius fuliginosus which uses a chemical weapon against other ants.
Some hundred to a few thousand workers skipped on a place infested with other ants will bring the locals to abandon their burrow. These shining black ants live in the trunk of alive trees and don't build in the open ground.
Collect them with a soft brush from their populated streets on the tree trunks in a glass.

Works excellent with Formica and Lasius species
« Last Edit: February 14, 2016, 05:35:36 PM by partisangardener »
greetings from Bayreuth/Germany zone 6b (340 m)
Axel
sorry I am no native speaker, just picked it up.

 


Scottish Rock Garden Club is a Charity registered with Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR): SC000942
SimplePortal 2.3.5 © 2008-2012, SimplePortal