Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Destructive Ants?

What's with the ants this year? 

I'd noticed that the 2 zucchini I'd planted were wilting morning, noon and night the past few days.  Today I gently lifted the plant and the whole base came off.  I strongly suspect the ants chewed right through them.  They've been in all the flowers so far and I hadn't given much thought to them.  Didn't see the harm.  But I'd never heard of them chewing through the plant at the base.  (A goggle search confirms this.)  

Well, drat.  I'd had an over abundance of zucchini last year so I planted very sparingly.  (Ha!  Just goes to show you.)  Now both are gone and it looks like they're eating the yellow squashes too.  Someone mentioned that ants don't like cucumber so I put some cucumber shavings from last nights salad around the base of the remaining squash.  I think they're doomed, but will see.

Later in the day I had to take Ginny out for a stroll so I curiously looked at the cucumber patch.

Lots of blooms and baby cukes...and what's that?

Ants all over them too.  So much for the "ants don't like cucumber" theory.  Not really sure what to do other than observation. 

Oh hey, look what I found!

This is the first cuke from our garden. Baker Creek Beit Alpha.

I then strolled over to eyeball the tomato patches.  I've been reading Erin's trials and tribulations with early blight.  (Shudder)  All I can do is watch for now.  I have a few yellow leaves close to the ground.  I went ahead and pruned those off wondering if I held the beginnings of the big B in my hand.  Time will tell.  I remember 2-3 years ago Ohio gardens were affected.  No tomatoes and lots of burn piles.

When I read how horrible a year it's been for so many of you, I consider myself lucky that I've gotten off lightly so far this year.  

We'll see how long that luck holds.  And if ants eating my zucchini is the only thing I've got to worry about, than I have gotten off easy.


  1. Tami - To me that looks like cutworm. Never heard of ants eating stems... If it is cutworm, only a collar (like an empty loo roll or the top part of a plastic bottle, but the latter should be done when the plant is small) or crushed egg shells around the base of the plant will help.

    Too late to plant another batch?

  2. I don't think that damage was from the ants. Did you cut the plant open to see if there are SVB's inside? With regard to the ants, sprinkle baking soda around and it will kill them. I have had some ants at the plots this year and read that baking soda is poison to them. Hopefully the yellow leaves at the base of the tomato plant are not the big B!

  3. Yep..After more investigation I see that it's affecting my winter squashes too. SVB is what I'm thinking. The article I read says it's difficult to control.

    Is there any hope? Or should I just yank them and replant?

  4. At least you have a beautiful cuke...we're still weeks away from that!

  5. Yep I agree, SVB. Ants can actually help in the garden and even aid in the life cycle of some plants. Look at peonys. Good luck in your battle. They can be a real nightmare.

  6. I am glad to see I am not crazy! I cant ever seem to grow zucchini because the ants eat the insides out of the flowers! I now have a keen distaste for ants...

  7. It has been an absolutely crazy year for gardening! My biggest problems with ants are either fire ants challenging me for some spots in my garden, or aphids. I've had SVB too I believe. And wilt. *sigh* If it isn't chickens, it's feathers.