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Ants on raspberry plants

(10 Posts)
PurpleRibbons Sat 04-Jun-16 10:09:19

I just noticed how much fruit is growing on my raspberry plants, then I noticed that the plant is covered in thousands of ants.
Will they eat the fruit as it ripens? Is there anything I can do to get rid of them? Have toddler and cat si would rather avoid chemicals. Thanks.

Cathpot Sun 05-Jun-16 16:30:35

The problem with ants is they are likely farming aphids on your plants. The aphids plug into the phloem of the plant and excess sugary water drips out of their bottoms which the ants then drink. The ants will protect the aphids from predators like ladybirds so while its all grimly fascinating it's not good for the plant. I've used the ant bait stations before - little round plastic doodas with the poison inside behind small holes- should be safe for kids and pets. I put them under a piece of slate to keep dry. The ants take the poison back to the nest.

PurpleRibbons Sun 05-Jun-16 19:14:08

Wow, I knew ants were really clever but I didn't realise they actually farmed their own food supply! That is fascinating and it seems a shame to disturb them. I want my raspberries though! Do you put the poison station in the pot with the plant?

Cathpot Sun 05-Jun-16 19:27:49

I know! I had an apple tree this was happening to and it was fascinating to watch. I also liked reading about some scientists who used aphids to study an active phloem by snapping the body of the aphid off and connecting their equipment to the mouth part.

That maybe more of my inner nerd than you needed to hear though!

Yes you can put the bait in the pot- or anywhere you can see they trail in and out regularly.

PurpleRibbons Sun 05-Jun-16 19:38:50

Thank you. I've just inspected the plant and sure enough there are thousands of green aphids clustered at the base of each raspberry. I need to get rid of those too. Am I right in thinking they don't like washing up liquid?

Cathpot Sun 05-Jun-16 19:45:42

Yes- but don't use it neat- and don't put it on when the sun is out would be my (limited amateur experience) advice. I get some slightly soapy water and rub them off with my fingers which is grim but works and then rinse off with water. I think other people on the gardening forum probably know the proper way to do it. If you get rid of the ants you can order ladybird larvae or adult ladybirds in the post to help keep aphid numbers down. I've used the green gardener website for this before, it's satisfying to let them loose.

PurpleRibbons Sun 05-Jun-16 20:19:39

I've ordered ladybirds from them before and they bred and the larvae ate all my lillies!! Actually I think getting rid of the ants then getting more ladybirds is a great idea.

Cathpot Sun 05-Jun-16 20:23:26

Oh no! I didn't know they did that.

DoreenLethal Sun 05-Jun-16 20:28:00

Just squish the greenfly and then spray or douse the plant in some water to wash them away.

I don't think ladybird larvae eat lilies - that's lily beetle.

PurpleRibbons Sun 05-Jun-16 20:32:54

Lily beetle! Had never heard of that!
I didn't mean to sound negative about the ladybirds btw I really enjoyed them and they enjoyed a previous aphid infestation on my runner beans. We seem to get quite a lot of ladybirds so I think they got quite settled in out garden.

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