Get Rid Of Ants And Mealybugs Using These Simple Techniques

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Namaskar Desi Gardeners! When we think about garden pests, ants are not considered a villain, right? However, the truth is that I have lost as much plants due to ants as any other bug.

Do not get me wrong. These insects have their nice job to do. They kill many other pests, control larva, pollinate, aerate soil and do much needed jobs in the garden. But the ugly side of ant infestation is that these will sooner or later kill your plants if not controlled.

Red Ant, Black, Fire, Flying, Carpenter, Pharaoh, Electric, Formica, Redwood…

These are just the names of some ants, which also sound quite interesting. However chances are that two to three varieties of these are already there in your garden but only one kind of ant will trouble you.

In my garden, I have seen that the small black ants live and co-exist peacefully. No harm at all. But the red ants are red flags for me. Since I do not much about the ant species I cannot name them but we have all seen it. There are the red ants and the bigger red ants. Anyway big or small, red ants have killed a few of my plants, and most of the time it is hibiscus. Hibiscus is their favourite plant to bother. You can see more on hibiscus issues here.

Actually more than ants, it is the ant’s ‘cattle’ that destroys the plants. I mean mealybugs.

Get Rid Of Ants And Mealybugs Using These Simple Techniques

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Wherever there are ants on the plant or trees, you are very sure o find mealybugs. Mealybugs are small white insects that stick to the plant shoot or branches. You will see them sticking to a bud.

Mealybugs are like cows to the ants. The ants take care of them, protect them from other pests. Mealybugs in return provide the ants with a secretion from their body called the honeydew which is a favourite food for the ants.

So if you control ants, you will also have to destroy mealybugs completely.

There are many home remedies and organic ways to stop these insects. If the infestation is severe and none of these work, you may have to try something stronger but then that may not be organic. Anyway let us see some methods from different gardeners.

Ants and mealybugs affect crops of almost every country. Here we see an Australian gardener uses a simple trick. Instead of killing the ants, he stops these from coming up to the branches of the plants. This way the mealybug will also stay away. The trick is just to use a dab of Vaseline. Apply it around the stems few inches above the soil.

Ants do not like sticky things. Vaseline will stay for weeks. It is also affordable, does not harm plants and easy to do.

Here is another video where duct tape (cello tape) has been used the same way on the stem. Ants will not cross it as they will get stuck.

If you try this make sure you change your cello tape regularly if the gum is not sticky. Use wide cello tape or it is best to use double sided cello tape like one here.

 

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Home Remedies for ants and mealybugs 

Water – Simply wash off the ants and mealybugs with water. Wash your plants where these are and clean them off. Or use a nozzle that will pressure spray the water. The ants do not like water. Mealybugs will fall off but it will not kill the. However for light infestations, this usually works.

Neem oil – One of the best all rounder allies for plants. Mix with water and spray on your plants every week. Do it in the evening.

Regular application of Neem oil not only discourages ants but also other insects. It is beneficial for the plants too. Mix 2 tsp of liquid dishwash / detergent / regular shampoo to the water with neem oil and you can spray this as well.

Baking soda – Mix 1 tsp of baking soda with neem oil and liquid soap and you have a more effective pest controller. Spray every seven to ten days.

Kerosene oil – Many farmers use kerosene oil to get rid of ants. One teaspoon is mixed in a litre of water and kept to rest for 24 hours and then applied. As a precaution, never apply kerosene directly or just by mixing in water. It has to be rested with water otherwise it will burn your leaves and damage the plants.

Rubbing alcohol – Alcohol dissolves the white waxy layer of the mealybugs which acts as a shield for the bug. Unless this layer is not removed, it is difficult to kill the bug.

Deodorants- Yes deos! Deodorant does the same job as alcohol is an ingredient. When you spray on the mealbugs it dissolves the wax on it and then when you apply the insecticides like neem oil, it finally kills it. Ants hate deos too.

Detergent – It is one of the cheapest ways to get rid of ants and mealybugs. See this video how Professor Surya Prakash Agarwal uses it in his garden. This method is quick and works well. The only downside to it is that it is not organic.

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However, if you are looking for a fully organic way to control ants then try this mixture. It can be easily made at home with materials that we use every day.

Things To Note 

If you see that there is too much of ant – mealybug infestation, cut off the infected stem and burn it off. Do not put it near the other garden plants. Apply fungicide like Saaf.

Do not overwater or over fertilize your plant. This will attract ants.

While potting, use clean soil without any ant eggs in it. Always check your old pot and soil by digging and loosening it all up.

Farmers and gardeners who have large areas of land introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings.

Small birds like the sparrow and tailor bird also feed on these bugs. So leave some food around with water for the birds. It will attract them to your garden.

 

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