Far Out Flora

Ants In Our Plants

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When Ants Attack!

GROSS! What the heck? On this quiet, rainy Sunday afternoon Matti was watering some of the indoor plants. I’ve been slacking on my plant watering duties lately, and started to worry that they were so bone dry that simply pouring water on to them wasn’t doing much. The water was running right through the pots, so we decided to soak some of the from the the bottom up for awhile to give the soil time to absorb water. Matti’s Platycerium superbum (freaky cool staghorn fern) has always been watered this way since they’re no place to pour water in from the top.

Nasty!

When I got up to fill the dog’s water dish up, I was greeted by a big swarm of freaked out ants (I think they’re argentine guys, from the massive super colony) running around with eggs all over the kitchen sink and walls. This is not the first time this has happened. Many “houseplants” have been set free in the backyard after becoming infested. We’ve even had a super curly Tillandsia turn in to an ant nest. Are we the only ones with this problem? They’re not going after aphids (this has happened before too). There’s one mealy bug on the Stag, but they don’t seem to be farming it. Maybe it’s because of all the rain?  We have a uncovered bowl of sugar that none of them seem to care about.

Oh the humanity!

Here’s one last shot of the attack. In the past they’ve seemed to hit up succulent  pots without drainage first. Any words of wisdom about this yucky phenomenon are welcome. We’ve  been able to rid them of smaller pots, by soaking them in a pot of water, but are usually to grossed out to deal. On a positive note, we’ll find out how long the staghorn can live in the wilds of the backyard. Matti said, “It’s dead to me now” upon discovering the ant party anyways.  Screw you ants!

8 Comments

  1. You’re not the only one! In fact, one of the Staghorns you gave me also became home to an ant colony recently. I wonder if there’s something about the Staghorn that attracts them?

    I took the afflicted Staghorn out of its pot and washed almost all of the soil away, sending the ants running. (I was repotting it when I discovered the infestation.) Not a kind thing to do to the plant, but hopefully it’ll survive and stay antless.

  2. Absolutely nothing grosses me out like the site of a massive amount of ants like in your middle picture. A couple of spiders, no problem! A snake…not a big deal. Ants like that give me the shakes and a bit of a vomit response. I’m loving Matti’s “It’s dead to me now” comment. I totally get it.

  3. weird. we usually only get visited when it’s been super dry. i prefer spiders. ants are ok. you have to just tell them to leave…and be patient. spraying only pisses them off.

  4. Megan, We were over run by Argentine ants on our property and actually the whole area where we live is dominated by them. They eat all other pests including termites and fire ants. We resisted pesticide control for years other than baits because of our pets. Finally we found th right bait and got them under control. We have a barrier bait around our house with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fipronil . I don’t know of anything else that works. If you find something else let us know. Thanks

    • Yeah, it seems to be 3-4 times a year that we get a breakin. We don’t do much to try to stop them. They seem to show one day (visually) then gone the next. I suspect that a couple find a new home in one of the plant. Since we don’t water as much in the winter, the houseplants’ soil is drier long enough from them to get established. If the plant is small enough, we can soak them out of their home. I found the key is to let them sit for about 20-30 mins until the queens start popping out, hand pick off the rest, then check the plant carefully in a week. Matti

  5. Just now noticing a few ants indoors around the sinks the past few days, a couple scout ants. No indoor plants. I think it has to do with moisture. The varmints want some moisture but not soaked ground. Me in my Dr. Science mode. Love the “dead to me” comment too.

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