Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

For you, Florence...
Ants in your garden could be feeding on honeydew excreted by aphids, mealybugs, scales and other insects. Ants actually farm the insects and protect them from natural predators. While it is possible to control ants, it is also recommended to control the other insects that are attracting the ants...

To prevent ants from crawling up plants you can apply a ring of sticky barrier substance low down on the stem. A commercially available one is called tanglefoot, however I am sure there will be a number of home remedies that work just as well.

My friend Google has given me the following tips to try:
1. Bay leaves - I found a fair few places that recommended this so definitely try it
2. A ring of electrical or gaffa tape, sticky side out around the stem/ trunk
3. Ideas for sticky barriers - vaseline, used cooking oil, honey, eucalyptus oil
4. Pipecleaner soaked with peppermint oil
4. Boiling water poured into the nest
5. Spray 50/50 water vinegar mix onto things to deter them - not sure how this will affect plants
6. Sprinkle salt, talcum powder, flour, cayenne pepper, cream of tartar, borax, powdered sulphur (sounds like you can use almost anything lol but these were for inside house or around foundations rather than the garden)

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Thanks Donna,

I know about the honeydew substance that the ants harvest, that’s why I was concern when I saw them and tried spraying chilli on them.. but these smaller ants seems to be more resistant to the spray then the bigger ones that were on my Longan tree …

Many parts of the beans especially the growing tips are covered with black insects which I think are Alphids, and I’ve tried the chilli spray again, and rubbing them off with my fingers but without any improvement over the last week.

I’ve read about non-drying glue on the trunk, but didn’t know where to get non-drying glue, the ants/scale problem seemed to have been fixed on the Longan tree, so I didn’t do any further research… with the beans… I don’t know where the crisscrossing stem starts as I grew them on two tripods sitting together built from bamboo sticks, and some stems were running on the ground. I couldn’t put up with it anymore as the Alphids are distorting all the developing beans and flowers, so I’ve trimmed the beans down the ground leaving only about 15 – 20 cm of stems left..

I think next time I will cut off all the leaves and stems that are close to ground, and try your google tip 3,5 and 6… or I should buy a Bay tree ^^” Know of anywhere selling good price Bay tree?
Hi Florence
What a shame the naughty bugs won, I think bay trees are quite big trees from memory, but you can buy dried leaves in the supermarket so maybe markets have fresh ones?
you can get bay trees from the nursery at northey st, and i got one in a tube from bunnings - just lucky, they're not there all the time i don't think. have never tried bay leaf concoctions on ants though, can't help there
Peter Cundall reckons that if you put the hose into the ant nest and leave it on for a an hour or so you'll drown the nest out and they won't come back. Water restrictions a problem, but nice non-toxic way to get rid of the nest!

Those black insects sounds interesting. My aphids are usually green, but I've seen black ones too. Maybe you were over-watering the beans so the new growth was a bit weak and luscious and attracting them? Did you fertilise the beans with a nitrogen fertiliser? That might do it as well.

Bug tea can work. Gruesome but effective. Collect lots of them, squish them and spray them back onto the plants. Attracts predators, spreads germs, reduces the initial population, possibly deters the remaining population.

Aphids hate oil sprays (they can't breathe), but scale don't care so much, they hide under their shells. White or mineral oil is often recommended for both of these, but the heat is a problem - you'll literally fry the plants if it's over 32 degrees.

Neem definitely works if you have a big infestation you need to knock out. For small local infestations like your beans I usually just squish them with my fingers and rub the goo back on the plant. If you do it every day for about three days you usually win.

Predators are important too. You need ladybirds and predatory wasps. To get wasps you need flowers with nectar. Carrot flowers are good. Nasturtiums, fennel and alyssum are all recommended to attract these guys who will help clean up your aphids for you. Some birds apparently will too - I haven't seen them do it so I'm not sure which ones and therefore what to plant to attract them in Brisbane.

Also if you build up the organic matter in the soil the ants will move off to somewhere drier. I've used the vaseline on the trunk trick with success. People used to paint fruit tree trunks white with lime to deter ants, but it's not all that effective. Pruning the canopy to get good air flow deters scale a lot. I recently pruned out some of the growth on my lychee and now it's stopped getting so much scale. I've been using the hand squish method on this one.
I can vouch for NOT using oil sprays in the heat, I nearly killed my paw paws because of this - did get rid of mites but was *very* concerned for a few weeks!

Aphids & ants have taken up residence in (only) one of my okra plants, I have tried the vinegar spray to see if that deters them and if the weather continues mild I might try the oil spray again for the aphids.
Well the okra seems fine from the vinegar spray and no ants today, still have too get rid of the aphids though. Hopefully the weather stays mild so I can use the oil spray.
D use the microbe mix it will ferment there tiny sap sucking belly's and they will explode.
A
The ants are only there cleaning up after the aphids
A
Yes, although ants have been known to keep aphid eggs in their nests and carry them up to suitable plants. Plus weirdly they stroke the backs of the aphids to make them excrete honeydew, which they drink. Bizarre symbiotic business. So if you deal with the ants you're less likely to have a recurrent issue. Obviously you can never get rid of ants, but you can influence where they live.
Am just trying to buy a fruit fly kit - found this: http://www.greenharvest.com.au/seeds/good_bug_mix.html

It's a flower seed mix for attracting the predators of aphids and other annoyances

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