Ants are one of the most prevalent insects in and around your home, so it isn't surprising that they find their way into your potted plants. They come seeking food, water, and shelter and, if the conditions are right, they may decide to stay. Let's find out more about these annoying insects and how to get rid of ants in pots.
Ants in Plant Containers
Infestations of honeydew-producing insects, such as aphids, soft scales, mealybugs, and whiteflies may explain why you're finding ants in potting soil. Honeydew is a sweet, sticky substance that the insects secrete as they feed, and ants think it's a banquet. In fact, they will go to great lengths to protect honeydew-producing insects from predators to keep a supply of this tasty food handy. Get rid of the insects that produce honeydew before killing ants in containers to keep the ants from returning. If you catch infestations of these insects early, you can treat them with insecticidal soap. Spray the plant thoroughly, and pay particular attention to the undersides of the leaves where they like to hide and lay eggs. It may take more than one treatment to get them under control. The way you care for your plants can also be a source of ant problems. You may see ants in flower pots when you've been using home remedies that include sugar or honey. Pick up leaves that fall onto the potting soil and provide a cozy hiding place for ants.
How to Get Rid of Ants in Pots
If you find ants in your indoor plants, take them outside immediately so the ants don't become established inside your home. To get rid of the ants nesting in container plants, you'll need a bucket or tub larger and deeper than your flower pot and concentrated insecticidal soap, available at any garden supply store. Here is a simple procedure that will eliminate the ants once and for all:
- Place the plant container inside a bucket or tub.
- Make a solution using one or two tablespoons of insecticidal soap per quart of water.
- Fill the bucket or tub until the solution barely covers the surface of the potting soil.
- Let the plant soak for 20 minutes.
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Jackie Carroll has written over 500 articles for Gardening Know How on a wide range of topics.
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