Open Your Eyes Bedding*
Permies likes bugs and the farmer likes ants and aphids permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login


permies » forums » critters » bugs
Bookmark "ants and aphids" Watch "ants and aphids" New topic
Author

ants and aphids

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
This thread is to talk about that goofy little web page I made about ants and aphids on my apple tree


sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I had a miniature rose planted in a barrel and it kept getting aphids and nothing i used worked till I planted mint in the barrel next to the rose. I have not had an aphid in there since. Sometimes an herb with a fragrance will repel bugs.
j. bruce


Joined: Apr 05, 2005
Posts: 18
Location: York, PA
This may sound a bit.... obnoxious, but i assure you that the intent is good...

Have you tried using the principals of permaculture to remedy your problem?

Getting rid of:

Ants - Catnip, Mint, onion, Peppermint, Spearmint, Tansy, Wormwood.

Aphids - Anise, Catnip, Chives, Coriander, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Garlic (works with Roses, why not Apples?) Marigold, Mint, Mustard, Nasturtium, Onion, Oregano, Petunia, Sunflower.

I've heard that chives around the base of a tree will disuade ants from climbing the trunk.... I've heard this goes double for tansy, although i've never planted that. If the ants get into my strawberry patch this year, you can bet i'll try it out though.


York, PA, United States
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6 (6a-7a)
Annual Rainfall = 62"
January Temp Avg = 33
July Temp Avg = 76
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I always use soapy water with a small amount of oil on the infested plants. Aphids go away and so do the ants.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I'm trying a wide swathe of water-proof automotive grease around the trunk of my fruit trees. Day one and so far so good. Most ants and aphids are turning right around and heading down the trunk - a few unfortunates got about half way through. I'm not sure how the trees will react though.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
What about using boiling water? Certainly not on the roots of your apple tree, but what about for ants in walkways, or for very large colonies in the lawn?
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I've also read about boiling water on ant hills, but I haven't tried it yet. We have several large ant hills in our backyard...also, a three year old. So chemicals really aren't an option.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
paul--HAHAHAHAHA!!! you're a hoot! love your site, love your stories. you showed those ants and aphids who's boss...okay, even if it took more than a week! woo-hoo, go paul! and dane, you look like the best assistant a boss ever had. i found this site by searching for organic lawn care tips and got lost laughing at the stories. thanks for the giggles! -mrspokey in CT
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I found your site while searching for a remedy to my MASSIVE aphid invasion problem on my prized french plum tree. I came back from vacation today and was checking over my plants and AGGHHH there was the evidence of rotten creatures at work on my tree . Upon closer inspection, there too were ants hardily at work. I rushed into the house to hop onto the computer to find the quickest solution and came across your similar plight!!! I thoroughly enjoyed the read and will be going out for some DE post-haste. Thanks for the tip!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
While I think the stuff listed above is good for short term, I really think that the stuff that j. bruce listed is probably the smartest for long term. 

Since I wrote that, I've come across several plants with similar problems and have seens loads of ladybugs.  On the trees with ants, the ladybugs are not making much progress.  So I think that if one were to focus on controlling the ants, the ladybugs in your area would take care of the aphids.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Hello, I just found your site, and I thought I'd tell you what the folks on the Organic Gardening List do for aphids.  A strong spray  of water can knock off most of the aphids.  You need to do this every few days, as new generations of aphids appear that frequently; but the ones you knock off are (I've been told) not able to come back.
                                


Joined: Mar 07, 2006
Posts: 16
What a great site!  I, too, was looking for lawn care tips when I came across the site.  Love it!!  Great tips given in an amusing format.  What more could I ask for??

What about ants in mulch?  I have millions of the little critters in my wood mulch & I really don't like them coming into my house when I did not invite them!

Thanks
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Ants in your mulch?  Well, chickens of course!

Don't have any?  Get some!

Using rude gestures?  ....  okay ...  I think DE is probably going to be your best bet.  Just make sure to use lots on a dry day after dew has past.
                                


Joined: Mar 07, 2006
Posts: 16
DE it is!  The little boogers don't stand a chance.  After the monsoon season is over, they're goners!
Marilyn Queiroz
steward

Joined: Apr 03, 2005
Posts: 60
I'm thinking of using DE for an ant problem. About how much should I buy at one time? How much territory would a 5 lb bag cover, for example? Can I buy it locally, or is this something that would be better bought over the internet?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I saw a five pound bag at a farm supply store a few days ago. 

The trick with buying it over the internet is the cost of the shipping.

What sort of ant problem are we talking about? 

The thing to keep in mind is that DE will kill ALL creatures with an exoskeleton - including your beneficials.  There's nothing wrong with having a few ants.  But having ants killing your growies is might rude on the part of the ants!
                                


Joined: May 30, 2006
Posts: 2
Wow very interesting, came across that page while i was looking for a remedy too. i've got a plum tree (about 6-8 meters tall), i don't remember what kind tho :/ (grows little green plums) and the ant/aphid infestation is MASSIVE.  there are atleast 40+ aphids and 1 ant on each infected leaf, they form a solid sheet on the bottom.  im not exactly sure how many there are cause it's a fairly large tree, but on a warm day, there is a chain of ants constantly moving up and down the tree trunk.  Where are you guys located? cause the aphid in that picture looks nothing like the ones we have here, im in the western coast of canada, and the ones we have here are like 1/4 that size, and as green as the back of the leaves (kind of a neon aqua green).  There are enuff aphids on the tree that it's making the ends of the branches shrivel

so when you say garlic will repel ants, do you mean like rub a piece of garlic around the base? or do you mean like grow garlic, cause if chives work too, then growing garlic chives must work great lol...

edit:
also, do you think taping a cup around the trunk and filling it with that DE stuff would work? cause the ants can't get up anywhere other than up the trunk, and the lady bugs that eat aphids, can just fly up there rite?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I think this was suggesting stuff to plant.  But for immediate results, throw DE on the ground around the trunk of the tree on a dry day.  Do that every day for a few days.  The DE on the ground will probably destroy most of the ants almost none of the ladybugs. 
                                


Joined: May 30, 2006
Posts: 2
yay, ok i finally found some time and transfered some of my garlic chive plants into the ant's home (ant hole + shovel = pwn) now im just wondering where i can get DE, i should be able to buy it at any hardware store that has a gardening section rite? and does it work if i mix DE into food, so that when the ants try to eat it, it'll cut up their insides?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Don't try to get the ants to eat it.  Just try to get the ants dusted with it.  If you put lots of it where they hang out, it kinda blows onto them and then gets between their joints and cuts them up.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I've read this thread with interest - I too have aphids and ants!  Can I ask what is DE - it is mentioned here, but I've never come across it - can you get it in the UK?

Thanks
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Check out the article at http://www.richsoil.com/antsandaphids/index.jsp

Here is an exerpt:

Diatomacious Earth (DE) is an off white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton (such as an ant) it gets caught between their little exoskeleton joints. As they move, the DE acts like razor blades and cuts them up. DE only works when it is dry. DE does not harm other animals, in fact, some folks feed it to their animals thinking that it will wipe out some parasites. DE can irritate lung tissue (just as any talc-like dust would), so try not to breathe in any dust.
Marilyn Queiroz
steward

Joined: Apr 03, 2005
Posts: 60
I found some Diatomacious Earth (DE) at one hardware store in the insecticide department. However, I went to 3 other stores and didn't find it.
                                


Joined: Jul 02, 2006
Posts: 1
if you spray  any bush which is covered with aphids...where are they going to go?  on the other flowers and plants?  Does that actually work or does it just spread them around.......Will diatomaceous earth also destroy earwigs and weevils.?...what about snails.?  What purpose do aphids and ants serve?  I really abhor them both but still find them fascinating and...can we live in harmony with them....They have also invaded my home in places where there was moisture...they're not carpenter or termites but they call them moisture ants...they appear to be the same ants that are milking the aphids....and are there other alternatives to fumigating your home....
Marilyn Queiroz
steward

Joined: Apr 03, 2005
Posts: 60
ladybug wrote:
iWill diatomaceous earth also destroy earwigs and weevils.?...what about snails.?

My understanding is that diatomaceous earth will destroy crawling (not flying) insects and arachnids (spiders). . A snail is not an insect or spider and has no joints that the DE can get into. I doubt it would have any effect on snails.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Spray?  What are you spraying?

DE harms anything with an exoskeleton.  I think that DE doesn't do anything to worms, snails or slugs.

Why would you want to fumigate your home? 



                              


Joined: Jul 05, 2006
Posts: 1
I just wanted to say i loved the artcile about the ants and aphids. We  have a major infestation, and have tried squishing them, garlic,onion,soap,spray, just soap spray, ant bait disks...It is comforting to know I am not alone in the war Also I am getting some DE soon. The pictures were great too.
John Meshna


Joined: Jul 22, 2006
Posts: 111
Location: Vermont

  I've been reading all the talk of ant and aphid control using diatomaceous earth.  Just want to let you all know that DE will control and kill them quite well and, the concern about breathing it in can be minimized first by, wearing a dust mask if you're going to use a lot of it at once and, use the "wet" application whenever necessary, and don't apply it on a windy day.  Dust of any kind is bad for you in large quantities.  A friend of mine's dog died of lung cancer from hanging around his wood shop where they made cedar furniture.  Cedar isn't bad for you and it repels bugs but, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing sometimes. Also, use only pure fossil shell flour and fossil shell flour with pyrethrine for the tough situations. 
  There are many kinds of Diatomaceous Earth.  Some are for swimming pools that have been altered chemically and heated are toxic and salt water DE, which you don't want around either and quite a few others are available,  Fossil shell Flour is used to treat stored grain in Silos.  We eat it most of the time and don't even know it.  It's a very safe product to use.  Beat malathion hands down!
  Also, wanted to let you know that, DE doesn't harm earth worms but, it will eliminate slugs.  It kills fleas, ticks, and internal parasites and adds minerals to soil and food.  Fossil Shell Flour in it's pure form is good for you and all your livestock.
  If you want to know a whole lot more and get some free instructions on it's use, you can go to this page on my web site at http://www.dirtworks.net/Diatomaceous-Earth.html and read the page as well as download information about it's use, application and chemical analysis.


John Meshna (owner)
Green State Hydroponics
1195 Dog Team Road
New Haven, Vt 05472
                            


Joined: Jul 26, 2006
Posts: 2
I've been looking for something to get rid of ants/aphids for a while now, they're taking over my pasture.  A friend suggested getting guineas.  Researching the web indicates that guineas are excellent at de-bugging.  They also have an appetite for small mice and baby rats.  Anyone had any experience with success with guineas.  Yes, I know they are noisy.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
slugs:  how does DE imapact slugs

guineas:  I've heard of them controlling ticks.  I can imagine them controlling ants, which would then let nature take care of the aphids.

                            


Joined: Jul 26, 2006
Posts: 2
From what I've researched, guineas will just about solve all insect problems, slugs too, and leave your garden plants alone.  Gardening With Guineas - by Jeannette S. Ferguson is the book I'm referring to.  She also has a web site that gives out some good information.  I read about the Red Star chicken you used with interest.  I understand she didn't clear the ant problem as quickly as you'd have liked.  Do you think a large, free roam flock of Red Star chickens would do the trick in my pasture?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Do you think a large, free roam flock of Red Star chickens would do the trick in my pasture?

For ant control?  No.  I still think these ants are too small. 
                                        


Joined: Apr 26, 2007
Posts: 1
Seems to me, this talk 'bout ants and aphids has got a little to-the-point.

[If you are a stuffy-like person, in a big rush to find out something useful, just skip to the next post.  This post don't make much sense to me, and I'm the one a-writin' it.]

Anyways, I think I am going to report this post to the moderator, because it is mostly long and pointless; and furthermore, like everything on this page, it reminds us about ants getting meals from unwholesome places.

Anyways, I was in my back yard this evenin' and I saw some ants and aphids on my precious grape plant.  At first i thought these ants a-eatin' these aphids because, these southern fire ants have eaten' me several-o-times whilst diggin' or walkin' or messin'.

These (above mentioned) ants have made quite a nest below (above mentioned) grape plant. 

Anyways, I sees ants and aphids crawling 'round my grape plant.  I look close and sees the ants were just a-runnin' around aphids, crazy like.  Then I though they wasn't a-eatin' those aphids, caus' if they was a-eatin' those aphids; 1) those aphids would be already gone.  And 2) those aphids would have more ants a-chompin' and less ants a-runnin.'

So I google "ants aphids" to see what exactly those ants were a-doin.' 
And boom!  I find this whole butt lickin' phenomenon!!!  Who-da-thought?  But it makes sense -- with those ants just a-runnin' like they were a-lookin' for some delicious sweet somethin.'

Anyways, all this talk about DE and chickens.  I am somew....  whait  a phone call.  Just a minute....

Ok...  I'm back.  Geeze, Some people. Don't know how to fix voicemail service for an ubuntu ltsp remote phone room call center server; wish they would stop a-callin' me.

Anyways, bout these butt-eatin'-aphid-ants.  I don't have any DE or chickens and squishin' em' don't do the trick.  I mean, the 'home owners association' would be cool with DE, but chickens...  They would probably say they were farm animals, not pets.

Now, some-o-them smart folks say conventional solutions, cauz' I have a mint plant on the poach.  Got some chives and basil in there too.  But I would need to go down those stairs for clippin' basil.  But I am going to put that mint, chive, basil plant next to the grape plant with those ants.  But I don't remember, is this taking care of ants or aphids?

Anyways' I think we should all move to www.itacimirim.com
Then we won't have to a-worry about ants or aphids, neither. 
                          


Joined: May 22, 2007
Posts: 1
I'm pretty new at this whole organic pest control stuff and I haven't read all the replies th this ant/ aphid victory but what about used coffee grounds to get rid of the ants. I have tried it in my lawn and it works very well, but I haven't tried it around my plants b/c ants haven't become much of a problem yet.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15460
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Used coffee grounds is a new one on me for ant control.  How does it work?
                                  


Joined: May 21, 2007
Posts: 9
I know that one of the people who was in the P-patch I was in swore by mulching with coffee grounds, but I wonder if it wouldn't change the pH of the soil...?  seems like it would make things more acidic, and I also wonder about the wisdom of adding caffeine into the ecology...  when I was in college taking genetics, my professor told us that caffeine was the single most mutagenic (causing mutations) legal substance that people could freely ingest... 

any other thoughts?
                                  


Joined: Jun 27, 2006
Posts: 5
I believe that your prof might have been a little off the mark. Apparently caffeine is mutagenic in bacteria but only mildly mutagenic in mammalian cells. The amount it would take would kill you before it would mutate your genes.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=7511793&dopt=Abstract

At any rate, I doubt it is as bad as the stuff in chemical pesticides.

I have a question about why the need to get rid of ants all together. Don't they pollinate some things? Like peonies?

As far as chickens and getting rid of ants, I have found that a flock of chickens can be very handy for getting rid of big ant hills (among other things). I have put cracked corn on and around some monster ant hills and once the hens find it the hill doesn't stand a chance. They scratch it down to nothing.

My opinion on using mint is 'buyer beware.' Personally I would not plant mint in any of my gardens, even with the hope of keeping it contained in a pot. Once it escapes it spreads at an insane rate.
John Meshna


Joined: Jul 22, 2006
Posts: 111
Location: Vermont
Well Geee... where to begin,
                        I guess the first thing i would say is, fresh water DE does not have an adverse effect on your lungs or beathing.  Those effects are found only with salt water DE, swimming pool DE and all the myriad forms of DE that are produced for filtering and other industrial processes.  It is a dust and can make you sneeze if you breath enough of it, just like saw dust or house dust or any other particulate matter.  If you plan on being around a lot of it like when you're feeding livestock or dusting a whole house you can wear a standard dust mask like the kind you buy at hard ware stores to keep from sneezing a lot.  It's not harmful though.
  Ants, ants, ants.. you only need to kill ants when they are in your kitchen or damaging something you want left alone.  Big black ants on Poeneas in spring are necessary to the plant.  they don't pollinate the flower, they eat the sticky sap that glues the bud shut, thus allowing it to open.  Once the bud opens and blooms, they go away.  I had a client in my landscaping business a long time ago who did everything they could to kill these ants and couldn't figure out why they wouldn't go away!  "Of course they aren't going away," I said. "They need to eat and you're trying to lock the refrigerater door!  "Stop it, they'll go away as soon as the food is gone," I said.

  I could ramble for hours about the benefits of Diatomaceous Earth.  Not only do chickens eat a lot of nasty bugs but, they can be bitten and tortured by bugs like mites and ticks and DE left out in a dusting box can be a real nice thing for a suffering bird.  They love dusting themselves and thus killing all their parasites and when they eat it, it provides them with important minerals that help them produce healthy, more nutritious eggs and harder egg shells that don't get broken in the coop and during transport to market.  When you put the shell into the compost, the minerals get released back into the soil for use by the plants.
  In short, the stuff is great.  It has many uses and used as directed it's perfectly safe.
                        


Joined: Jan 15, 2008
Posts: 1
All the remedies are such - remedies. They may push your intentions for a while but at the end, they will not be solutions.

Here's a remedy-solution without having to show who's the boss....

Any remedy will work provided you have a sacrificial plant for them to feast on. Choose a sturdy one that they cannot suck dead dry. Spray soap with oil (etc.) on all your faves and leave your "offering" out.

John Meshna


Joined: Jul 22, 2006
Posts: 111
Location: Vermont
"Trap" plants can be a good idea when properly located.  One of the best plants I ever used to trap pests was tobacco.  I originally planted it just see what it looked like and to find out if it would grow in my Vermont garden.  It grew really well and produced lots of beautiful flowers and as it turns out, the leaves are hairy and a little sticky and after a short time all the leaves of the tobacco were covered with aphids.  The aphids had no detrimental effects on the tobacco and seemed to just sit still.  I'm guessing they ate the sap and it was toxic to them and so sticky they couldn't get away.
  In amongst the aphids were a smattering of red spider mites, some mosquitos and various little flies.  The tobacco attracted a lot of bees to the garden too.

  That same garden was never attacked by Japanese Beetles either due to the wild grape vine that grew across the creek from it.  That vine would get covered every summer with beetles and I rarely found any in the garden.  It seemed to be just the right distance away so that the beetles would go there instead of the garden and not so close that the beetles strayed into the garden.           

  There a great little book on this type of thing called :Carrots Love tomatoes" by Louise Riote from Storey Publishing.  It's an easy read and very informative.
 
 
subject: ants and aphids
 
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books