Are Ants on Zucchini Plants Bad? How to Keep Them Off

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Meta description: This article provides helpful tips on how to get rid of ants on zucchini plants and keep them away. Learn how to protect your garden from these pests while still taking advantage of their benefits.

It’s quite common to see ants on zucchini plants. There might be so many of them that you would think they are a threat to the health of your plants.

On the contrary, most ants not only don’t cause any damage, but are also helpful for your vegetable garden.

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on them though, as their presence might indicate that other pests are infesting your zucchini plants.

A few species can also harm your plants, even if usually the damage they cause can be overlooked.

In this article, we will explore more about ants’ relationship with zucchini plants, how they affect your plant health, as well as methods to keep them away and when they should be applied.

Are Ants on Zucchini Plant a Problem?

Ants on Zucchini Plants

Ants can be a problem for your zucchini plants, depending on the species. The common black ants don’t cause any direct damage, but they have a special relationship with aphids, which can harm your plants.

Aphids are tiny and brown insects, and are ants’ largest food source, that suck so much sap from plants that their excretions are sweet and sticky.

That sticky substance is the favorite food of ants, and they love to eat this substance, called honeydew, so they often herd aphids and protect them from predators.

This can lead to a dangerous aphid infestation as they are a useful food source for ants, which will weaken your zucchini plants.

Moreover, aphids spread viruses and other diseases. You will recognize them because they gather on zucchini stems or on the underside of their leaves.

Another reason why black ants might be on zucchini plants is to feed on the pollen.

Usually, this isn’t a cause for alarm, as they eat such small amounts of it that it doesn’t hinder the plant’s reproduction.

In some instances, it could be troublesome, as bees will stay away from ant-infested flowers. Bees are excellent pollinators, and without their contribution, zucchini plants aren’t able to reproduce successfully.

Another damage ants can cause is the tunnels they dig in the ground to make their nests. Normally, this is beneficial for the soil, but if they excavate through zucchini roots, the plants could suffer.

Ants also eat seeds and they carry them to their nest, which can be troublesome too.

The only kind of ant that eats zucchini fruits and leaves is the fire ant.

Most times these ants aren’t enough to really harm your plants.

You will not want them around your plants for a different reason: they sting when they feel threatened. Just one sting will burn for a while, but if you get attacked repeatedly, it could be quite dangerous.

Will Ants Eat Zucchini Plants?

Ants on Zucchini Plants

Ants don’t normally eat any part of the zucchini plant as they much prefer the honeydew produced by aphids or rotten material.

As mentioned, they can sometimes eat small amounts of pollen, but not enough to be noticeable.

Red ants are the exception though, as they are the only ant species that is capable of eating the plant directly. However, they don’t usually endanger the plants, and the only reason why they can’t be ignored is that their sting is quite painful.

You should be more careful when your plants are very young, as at this stage even small damages can be fatal.

If you see damaged plants crawling with ants, most likely there’s another reason for its state. Ants are decomposers, so if a plant is already sick or dying, they will take advantage and start feeding from it.

In this case, it’s best to look for the original pest or disease that is harming your plant, as dealing with the ants won’t accomplish much.

How Can Ants Help Zucchini Plants?

Despite the damages they can cause, ants can also be beneficial for the garden in general, and for your zucchini plants, in particular.

Let’s see how.

1. Ants Improve Soil Health

Ants Improve Plants Soil Health

Ants make their nests in the ground by excavating tunnels which normally help to aerate the soil.

In some instances, for example, if the tunnels go through plant roots, it could be a problem.

Usually, though, the balance tends more toward the positive. That’s because thanks to these galleries, air and water are more accessible to the plants’ roots.

2. Ants Decompose Organic Matter

Ants are amazing decomposers as they feed from dead plant material and even dead insects and animals.

This allows nutrients to go back into the soil, enriching it and making it more fertile. Ultimately, zucchini plants will benefit from this.

3. Ants Can Pollinate

Ants Help Zucchini Plants Pollinate

Even if they aren’t excellent pollinators, ants can sometimes increase pollination rates.

By feeding from pollen and moving continuously from plant to plant, they spread it around.

However, it must be said that bees are still much better pollinators.

4. Ants Feed On Pests

Apart from eating dead animals, ants also feed on insect eggs and larvae.

Many of their prey are harmful insects and common garden pests, which get controlled thanks to the ants’ intervention.

Best Ways to Keep Ants Away from Zucchini Plants

When deciding what to do about ants on your zucchini plants, you should consider different factors:

First of all, the ant species as you can learn if ants are a real problem or just a nuisance based on this.

Next, it is important to evaluate the intensity of the infestation as you can know if the are simple and quick methods that you can employ to keep them away, without killing them, are enough.

Otherwise, you might want to deal with the problem in a stronger and more aggressive manner if there’s an entire ant colony or if you have a Red Ant infestation.

Here are some of the most useful methods that you can use to get rid of ants on your zucchini plants:

1. Blasts Of Water

Keep Ants Away using Water Blast

When the ants aren’t many, you can simply spray the colony with water using a hose. This will dislodge both them and the aphids.

For small infestations of black ants, this is the ideal solution.

2. Get Rid of the Main Problem

Aphids are most often the main cause of concern. The smartest course of action is to deal with them, and the ants will go away by themselves.

There are a variety of ways to kill aphids, from biological control with parasitic wasps or ladybugs to applying insecticidal soap or neem oil.

There are also insecticides sold commercially, but make sure to choose a biological one that targets aphids specifically.

Broad-spectrum insecticides are best avoided as they also harm beneficial insects.

3. Repel Them

Repel Ants Using Repellant Plants

Different spices and flowers can be used to keep ants away. Consider planting species they don’t like, such as rosemary, lavender, catnip, peppermint, mint, thyme, or tansy. The pungent smell of these plants will repel them.

For a quicker solution, simply spread ground spices or herbs around your zucchini plants. The ones that work best are cayenne pepper, cinnamon, mint, cloves, garlic, black pepper, and chili pepper.

4. Flood the Nests

Water is your friend against ants. If you want to get rid of fire ants, an easy and costless method is to pour boiling water into their nests.

Repeat this a few times, and the whole colony will be wiped off.

5. Bait Them

Baiting Ants as a Way to Keep Them Away

Ants can be easily baited with anything sweet, such as sugar or honey. By mixing borax with something sugary, you will attract a great number of ants.

They will feed from the sugar and bring it back to their nests, without noticing the poisonous borax.

In this way, the whole colony can be dealt with without harming other animals or plants. The bait will need to be placed next to their nests, or along their trails, if you have managed to locate them.

Ants on Zucchini Plants Final Thoughts

It is important to consider the species and the size of the ant infestation when deciding how to tackle them on your zucchini plants.

There are many different ways to keep ants off of zucchini plants. If there is just a small number of them present, then a water blast can be used to dislodge them and the aphids they may be feeding on.

However, if the infestation is larger, then it’s best to use methods such as planting certain spices or flowers that will repel them, flooding their nests with boiling water, or baiting them with borax and sugar.

By using these methods, you can easily get rid of ants on zucchini plants without harming other beneficial insects or the environment!

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Written by:

Cathy Gray
Cathy Gray is an entomologist and garden enthusiast with a lifelong passion for the natural world. Her academic background in Entomology and hands-on experience with organic gardening techniques fuel her desire to inspire others. Cathy's comprehensive knowledge of insects and devotion to sustainable gardening make her an enthusiastic guide for anyone looking to deepen their understanding and practice of cultivating thriving gardens.

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