By Ronnie Dauber, Garden Guides Contributor
About Ants Ants vary in size from a fraction of an inch to an inch or more. They can be black, brown or red; some can bite, some can fly. Many will house insects such as aphids, scale insects and mealybugs because these insects suck the sap from plants and then excrete a honeydew that the ants collect to feed their colony. They take the aphid eggs in during the winter and fly the insects from plant to plant during the summer.
Prevention and ControlThere are specific insecticides developed for the many specific types of ants. There are different strengths and applications, and it is necessary to identify the ant type before applying any kind of control.
Affected PlantsGarden or potted flowering plants are at risk of being attacked by the aphids that the ants bring to them.
DamageAnts are scavengers that travel in great masses invading the home, picnic areas or garbage dumps for food. They raid the plants where they left the aphids to eat the honeydew, and this seriously damages the plants. Carpenter ants do serious damage inside the home by eating away at the wood.
Predator InsectsLady bugs and lacewings often attack the aphids, at which time the ants gather in hoards to defend them.
Natural InsecticidesSpraying bleach onto the colonies that appear on your doorstep is one fast way to get rid of that particular colony, however, spraying the soil or the garden might seriously damage the nearby plants.
Other Methods of Control Ants can establish scent trails leading into your home, so getting rid of them is a three-step process. First, you need to set ant baits inside the home, then set up ant treatments in the yard with either ant baits or insecticides, and then finish with a foundation spray treatment around the home. This should be done several times a year.