A couple of ants on pepper plants are not dangerous. However, if they multiply to form a big colony, they may be a potential threat. A good number of ants on pepper leaves can prevent natural functions like photosynthesis. Therefore, the plants may not yield as expected if the ants are not controlled.
To get rid of ants in pepper plants, mix 125ml dish soap with 750ml of distilled water. Then sprinkle the solution on the leaves in the evening when the temperatures are not too hot. This will also kill aphids plus other insects that produce honeydew which attracts ants to your pepper plantation.
Ants around the pepper roots are suitable for the plants since they help increase the aeration as they bore holes into the soil. Ants digging into the plant’s roots create pathways that air can go through and reach their nests. The pathways they create as they move increases the flow of air to the soil.
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Causes of ants on pepper plants
Ants are attracted to pepper plants due to the sugary excretions and honeydew produced by aphids. When aphids infest pepper plants, they leave a sticky residue which is sugary and tasty for ants on the leaves and stems. At the same time, those pests are common in pepper plants that have curled and yellow leaves.
Aphids can move with ease from one pepper plant to another. The most common factor that dictates their movement is the cultivation, weeding, and pruning. When cultivation is done on an infested farm, farmers apply insecticide to kill pests that are common on any plantation in the fields.
An increase in amino acids in the plant tissues increases the plant’s susceptibility to infestation by aphids. If this happens, it means that ants will be attracted to a pepper plantation in large numbers because there is plenty of food. Ants can also attack the aphids larvae and other insects on pepper plants once they move in.
All types of ants can live on pepper plants as they feed on honeydew and other tiny insects. However, black ants are the most common on pepper plants because they farm aphids on the plants. The good news is that ants do not pose a potential threat to your pepper plantation. However, an army ant infestation on pepper plants can be dangerous to your plantation.
How to get rid of ants on pepper plants
One of the solutions to getting rid of ants without harming the pepper plants is to use natural repellents. Crush 10 pieces of fresh cayenne pepper in a clean container. Then add 2 tables spools of dish soap in it. After that, pour 250ml of lukewarm water into the container and shake to mix. Spray this on the pepper plants to kill ants plus other insects like aphids on them.
Cayenne pepper will help in repelling insects while soapy water can kill ants if they are well drenched in it. The solution will also kill aphids on pepper plants that produce honeydew which the ants are attracted to. This is best done in the evening because when the sun is up on a hot day, heat combined with the solution can be overwhelming to the leaves.
Both apple cider and white vinegar can repel ants on pepper plants. However, you have to mix either of those with equal parts of water before spraying them on the leaves. This will help in reducing the amounts of vinegar used while deterring ants on a large portion of the plantation.
The pungent odor released from the vinegar makes it hard for the ants to follow each other along their paths. At the same time, the ants would avoid coming near the plant since the odor will block their communications. This is a temporary solution but it works depending on the ant infestation.
Another option is using the water and white vinegar solution. A white vinegar and water solution can be created by mixing 50% of water and 50% of white vinegar in a spray bottle. The solution can be sprayed on pepper leaves or in the surrounding area.
The smell released from white vinegar suffocates ants and eventually kills them. Therefore, applying the solution near the plants makes it hard for ants to come near the plant. Spraying the solution on the leaves will also kill off the aphids reducing the source of attraction for ants.
2. Natural repellents
Ants hate the strong smell released by fresh lemon or orange peels. As the orange and lemon peels decompose, they emit a strong odor that distracts their movements. Placing the peels around the pepper plants dilutes their pheromones and this disrupts their communication and movements. The pungent odor also makes it hard for ants to come near the plants.
Natural ant deterrents used in a plantation include cinnamon, black and white pepper, or coffee grinds. Any of these can be placed near the plant or on the ants’ paths to deter them. All these components produce strong odors that can repel ants as they hunt for honeydew from aphids or other food sources in a pepper plantation.
3. Essential oil solutions
Essential oils such as neem and lavender oil work best for ants on pepper plants due to their strong odor. One of the approaches to prevent ants from nesting on the plant is using an essential oil and water solution. You mix water with a few drops of essential oil. The solution is shaken in a spray bottle and sprayed directly on the plant or the infested areas in the garden.
When an ant is exposed to the solution, its skin dries up, removing the waxing which protects them from toxic elements. The waxing is what keeps them safe and increases their ability to survive or manage through harsh environmental or climate changes.
However, this should be tested on a few leaves before the entire plantation is sprayed. It has been observed that some essential oils may burn the leaves if they are not properly diluted. Therefore, it is important to do a sample test on 3-6 leaves and check on any negative effects before the entire plantation is sprayed.
Advantages and disadvantages
Ants also act as a natural control for pests on the plants. Bigger ants often feed on other small insects, their larvae, and eggs. Ants are omnivorous in nature and this makes them good hunters when they come across other insects around their colony.
A regulated ant population on a pepper garden can also aid in pollination. Their movement into and out of the plants allows them to move pollen from one plant to another as they search for food. This is an advantage to the farm since all the plants with sugary excretions will be productive.
A big ant infestation can hurt a pepper plantation especially if they attack the young ones. Boring excessive holes expose the roots to different climatic changes that might be overwhelming for the plants’ survival.
In a sweltering climate, the pepper roots will lose water faster. Too many holes made by ants around the roots will result in water loss due to rapid evaporating than usual. When water loss is high in the soil, plants will have no guaranteed water source to nurture their main parts. As a result, they will die off after some time.
Similarly, ants digging around the roots while trying to make a home in the soil might also accidentally hurt the plants. They can cut the roots and if the plants are not well established, their survival rate is drastically reduced. Any plant with weak roots lacks the needed support and the system of ingesting necessary nutrients is compromised. As such, the plant might start to wither and eventually die.
To protect your pepper plants during an infestation, never use any new homemade solutions on them without testing or processional consolation. There are several ways of killing ants out there but you need to remember that you have to protect the plantation as well.