Ants are common pests that have been known to infest a wide range of crops, including strawberries. And many gardeners believe that ants are bad for their plants, especially strawberries. But is this really true?
Are ants bad for strawberry plants? Even though ants can occasionally damage strawberry roots through tunneling, they typically have little direct impact on the harvest. Ants are particularly attracted to recently-worked, well-drained soil areas, including raised beds (Source: North Carolina State University), And the good news is that a strong blast of water, insecticidal soap, or neem can help control ants on your strawberry plants.
In this blog post, I will explore the truth behind the myth and find out whether ants are actually harmful to strawberry plants. If you wonder how to keep ants off strawberry plants, I wrote a whole article discussing how to keep ants off your strawberry plants effectively.
Are Ants Bad for Strawberry Plants?
Ants are typically not harmful to strawberry plants in and of themselves. But, ants’ presence can be a hazard to gardeners. Generally, ants, particularly fire ants, will swarm and sting you if you disturb their nest. The venom from their stings can cause numerous, tiny blister-like welts and, sometimes, even severe allergic reactions.
In addition, ants are known to protect aphids from predators, and aphids are notorious for infesting strawberry plants. The common belief is that ants “farm” aphids, protecting them and even moving them from plant to plant (Source: McGill University)
The good news is that the relationship between ants and aphids is not one-sided. Aphids provide ants with honeydew, a sugary secretion that the ants love, and in return, the ants protect the aphids from predators (Source: National Library of Medicine). While it’s true that protecting aphids doesn’t bode well for the strawberry plant, the ants themselves are not harmful to strawberry plants.
Another reason why most people believe that ants are harmful to strawberry plants is because of their nesting habits.
Ants are known to create nests close to the roots of plants, which can sometimes damage the roots of the plant. However, this is only a problem for weak or already damaged plants. Healthy strawberry plants have strong roots that can withstand the light disturbance caused by ant nests.
What Insects Are Beneficial to Strawberries?
Insects beneficial to strawberries include pollinators and natural enemies of pests because they can help prevent using pesticides and improve strawberry fruits’ quality. Honeybees are essential pollinators of strawberries, and it is recommended to plant flowering plants that may help support native bees and keep honeybee populations even when strawberries are not blooming (Source: University of California)
Ants can also benefit your strawberry plants. Ants are natural tillers, aerating the soil around the roots of the plants as they dig and move through the soil, which helps the strawberry plant receive the necessary oxygen and nutrients it needs to thrive. Additionally, ants can help control other pests in the garden, such as caterpillars, by preying on their eggs and larvae.
Why Are Ants on Your Strawberry Plants?
Noticing a significant increase in the number of ants in your garden could indicate an underlying issue. Ants are attracted to rotting fruit, so if you have a lot of overripe or decaying fruit in your garden, it could be drawing in ants.
Another possible reason for an increase in ants could be due to excessive water in the soil. Ants are attracted to damp soil and will nest in these areas. So if you notice an increase in ants, it’s important to address the underlying issue and not just focus on the ants.
Also, bear in mind that certain ants are drawn to sugary fruits, honeydew secreted by aphids, and the nectar of flowers.
Also, ants “farm” aphids by placing them on plants and feeding them with their own excretions, which they also use to ward off predators. This means that if you have an ant infestation in your strawberry garden, you’re likely to have an aphid infestation as well. However, remember that the presence of ants on your strawberry plants doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem with aphids.
How To Prevent Ants From Eating Your Strawberry?
If you have an ant infestation in your strawberry garden, there are plenty of organic and eco-friendly ways to manage them without harming your plants.
- I encourage you to eliminate any sources of food in the garden that might be attracting ants, such as sugary drinks or leftover food.
- I encourage you to plant companion plants that deter ants, such as mint, marigold, or garlic.
- You can also use organic insecticides like diatomaceous earth or neem oil to deter ants and aphids.
- Remember that while ants can indirectly harm strawberry plants by protecting aphids, they can also play a beneficial role in their growth. Ants generally prey on other pests like caterpillars and beetles, which can cause harm to strawberry plants. Overall, ants are not entirely bad for strawberry plants.
By following these organic and eco-friendly ways, you can ensure a healthy strawberry garden that will provide you with delicious fruit all season long.
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So, are ants bad for strawberry plants? Ants are not inherently bad for strawberry plants. While ants can indirectly cause problems by protecting aphids, they can also play a beneficial role by spreading seeds, aerating soil, and preying on other pests.
In addition, ants can even benefit your strawberry plants by acting as natural tillers and pest control. If you notice an increase in ants, I encourage you to address the underlying issue rather than just focusing on the ants themselves.
As with any garden pest or creature, I believe that it is important to understand their role and impact in the garden to manage them properly.