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Old May 21, 2018   #1
EarlyBird
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Default TINY black ants, and a few aphids

Hi all,

I've noticed some small clusters of aphids on my Earl of Edgecomb, but not my other plants. I introduced some lady bugs to the garden at dusk yesterday, to try to control them. If that doesn't work, I'm gonna blast them with neem oil.

But I've also found very tiny black ants which crawl up the plant but then seem to get stuck in the tiny hairs on the branches. I've made borax/sugar traps and set them around the plants, but are these very tiny ants terribly bad for the plants? I know ants like to herd aphids and protect them. But I wonder if these tiny ants are those ants?
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Old May 21, 2018   #2
bower
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The aphid tending ants here are the average size ones, what I call "picnic ants". I had to move all my non-tomato veggies outdoors because these sneaky creatures got in and set up aphid farm on the lettuce. I'm not sure what the favorite bait is for these. Put some 'Ant B Gone Max' drops out but does not seem to have stopped them. They are super furtive and run like blazes if I come anywhere near them.

We do also have tiny black ants here (what I call "pin ants") which turned out to be really bad news because they are actually chaperones for the giant queen carpenter ants. They blaze the trail, chomping on wood and enlarging the tiniest holes to let the big ones in. I was astounded when I learned that the pin ants and regular (very large) carpenter ants were all the same species. If the aphid ants also have these little 'chaperones' I don't know. Hope they aren't wedding planners, for your sake.

I've never had a huge problem with aphids on tomatoes. Minor problems here and there but tended to solve itself, I think maybe tomato plant is somewhat toxic to them. I'm hoping so!
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Old May 22, 2018   #3
brownrexx
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I have never noticed ants causing any problems in my garden and they do aerate the soil. I leave them alone.
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Old May 22, 2018   #4
EarlyBird
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Thanks, all. It's the tiny size of the ants, and the fact that they don't seem to go anywhere near the aphids themselves (getting stuck in the tiny hairs on the branches and then seem immoveable) that makes me wonder if these are rather harmless. I hope so. Very healthy plants at the moment, and I want to keep them that way.

I'll report back on the success of the borax/sugar traps.
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Old May 23, 2018   #5
Nan_PA_6b
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The hairy stems on the tomatoes are doing their job, stopping climbing insects.


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Old May 23, 2018   #6
EarlyBird
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I'm so glad to hear that. I was hoping that was the case!

Edit: an update on the Borax/Sugar ant traps: Very effective. I put them at the bases of a few plants and instead of continuing to climb up, they get into the traps and die there.
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