Ants feel attracted to any food source with a sweet fragrance and will carry them to their anthill to consume it after some time. Seeing a swarm of little ants on a tomato plant is usual. Bear with us and find out if ants are bad for tomatoes and the ways to get rid of them.
Are ants bad for tomato plants?
Ants are not bad for tomato plants. Ants are not after the tomatoes in the plant. They seek the aphids that live under the tomato leaves and the honeydew they leave behind. You can use various techniques to lower the ant population without driving them away. Avoid using insecticides or chemicals.
During tomato season, you will smell the sweet fragrance of ripe tomatoes filling your garden. But as you reach out to pluck a tomato from the vines, you will feel a swarm of little ants get on your hand and move around in panic.
That might make you wonder if ants are disadvantageous to tomato plants.
Ants are not harmful to tomato plants and tomatoes and do not intend to damage the plant or its fruits; they are after the aphids. Aphids live under the tomato leaves and leave behind something called honeydew.
The ants pursue the aphids and their honeydew for consumption, leaving the fresh tomatoes untouched.
If you are concerned about your tomato plants and want to force the ants to leave, several techniques are available to help you. However, avoid using insecticides and treat them as the last option.
Creating an effective natural barrier between the plant and the ants is the best way to keep your tomato plants viable.
It is noteworthy that ants are not fussy eaters and do not care what food they eat. Therefore, most expert gardeners suggest encircling tomato plants with cornmeal.
The ants will consider it free food, carry it to their home, eat it and pass away since their digestive systems cannot tolerate cornmeal.
Are ants attracted to tomato plants?
Yes, tomato plants attract ants. It may be surprising for some people that ants do not target the tomatoes of the tomato plants. They are after the aphids and the honeydew they leave behind.
If you observe large groups of ants moving around in your tomato plant, understand that there is an infestation of aphids in your plant. Ants are not after the ripe sweet tomatoes; they are after the aphids and honeydew.
So, you can understand that seeing ants on your tomato plants means there is an infestation of aphids in your tomato plants.
Additionally, ants also look for larvae that they can strike on and consume as meals. Therefore, look out for aphids and larvae in your tomato plants, as these are the real threats to your tomato plant. You can use specific pesticides to control these.
Why are there ants on my tomato plants?
If you see a large group of ants roaming all over your tomato plant, you may be asking why there are ants on your tomato plant. Similarly, some gardeners have this question when they see ants on their tomato plants. There are a few reasons, and here they are.
Firstly, ants are after the aphids that live under the leaves of tomato plants, not the sweet tomatoes. Aphids feed on the tomato plant sap and produce a sugary excretion called honeydew upon which the ants feed.
As a result, an infestation of aphids on a tomato plant will attract the ants as they will come searching for insects and honeydew to consume.
Secondly, ants like to pounce on larvae and carry them to their anthills to consume them later. So, if you see ants on your tomato plants, you have to understand there is an infestation of aphids and probably larvae.
You do not have to be concerned for your tomatoes because they do not wish to eat the ripe tomatoes.
It is worth mentioning that large groups of ants can be harmful to your tomato plants. Although they will not pose a threat to your fresh tomatoes, they will eat the leaves.
So, you will see the leaves fall off the plant, and the plant will soon perish unless you get rid of the ants as soon as you can.
How to get rid of ants from tomato plants?
Dealing with a large group of ants invading your tomato plants can be troublesome. However, expert gardeners have come up with solutions that can help you establish a balance and reduce the ant population effectively. Some of the most effective methods are:
Sticky tapes are common household items as you may often use them for repairs, packaging, etc. Some people advise encircling the tomato plant with a thread of sticky tape and keeping the sticky side up.
Any ants walking toward the tomato plant will get trapped in the tape. You will have to change the sticky tape multiple times as it fills up with ants.
As mentioned earlier, ants love free food, sweet or not. If they find food laying around, they will try carrying it to their home to consume it later. You can encircle your tomato plant with some cornmeal.
The ants coming towards the tomato plant will walk away with the cornmeal instead and store it in their homes. Then, they will eat and pass away because their digestive system is not capable of breaking down cornmeal.
Create a trap:
You can set up a trap for the ants. Take a plant pot and fill it up with soil and put some sweet fruits on it. Then, keep the plant pot near your tomato plant and wait. The ants will seek out the sweet fragrance of the fruit and get inside the plant pot.
Pour hot soapy water over the ants. Soap and hot water are a lethal combination and will eliminate all the ants in the plant pot. You can terminate a crowd of ants at once using the trap.
Cayenne pepper has a strong smell that ants dislike. If you wish to keep ants away from your tomato plant and have cayenne pepper available, sprinkle some of it near the plant.
You will see rapid effectiveness as the ants will start heading in the other direction. Similarly, cucumbers, lavender, and marigolds produce the same reaction from ants.
If there is room in the plant pot of your tomato plant you can plant basil. Vegetable plants tend to grow together so both plants will develop faster. Additionally, you will have the fresh smell of basil all over your garden.
Although you will love the smell, the ants will feel repelled and leave your tomato plant alone. If you do not have extra space for the basil plant, you can plant it on a separate top and keep it near the tomato plant. It will have the same effectiveness.
If you have seen horror movies, you may know vampires can’t tolerate garlic. Ants dislike the smell of garlic.
So, if you can grow a little garlic plant in a plant pot and keep it near the tomato plant, no ants will dare go near the tomato plant because of the smell of garlic. The strong scent of garlic will drive the ants away and make sure no ants come close.
Eliminating the food source:
Ants look for aphids and the honeydew aphids leave behind. So, if you can remove the aphids, you will lower the probability of ants targeting your tomato plants and climbing on them.
To eliminate the aphids, you can use various insecticides. Most people advise using organic insecticides, such as horticultural oil and neem oil. Moreover, you should use pesticides to remove the larvae on your tomato plants.
Ants also look for larvae to hunt and consume. Terminating the larvae from the tomato plants will further ensure ants do not visit your tomato plant for food sources.
Like most animals and insects, ants have predators and have to hide to avoid becoming prey. You can use this to your advantage and make certain animals and insects work for you.
You can introduce frogs and birds to your garden so that the ants feel vulnerable and decide to leave your tomato plant alone. Birds such as the sparrows and starlings are ant hunters and will hunt on sight.
Moreover, you can release some lizards in your garden to eat all the ants and make your garden free of ants.
Although you may want to remove ants from your tomato plants and garden altogether, understand that these insects are useful too. It is because of these ants your garden is thriving.
Ants do not pose a threat to your tomato plants unless they are in swarms. Therefore, carry out the necessary actions to prevent them from ruining your plant. You can use several techniques to control the ant population without terminating every single one.