Ants in vegetable garden: good or bad?
Hi all, I'm a first time gardener and have a little 4x8 plot in the community garden for my graduate student housing complex. My plants are thriving, growing really really fast (especially the zucchini), but I have a serious ant infestation. I've done some googling and it seems that it's most likely that the ants are pests, but I spent some time in the garden this morning watching them..
At first, I thought, oh surely they're carrying aphids or whiteflies to my plants so they can harvest the milk, since I saw them carrying little white egg-like things while they were walking around on the ground. Then, I turned over a tomato leaf on the plant where they were swarming, and behind it there were hundreds of ants on the top of one leaf, along with lots and lots of little white things. I watched, and after about 5 minutes, the ants were gone, as were the white things. They had carried the white things away from the leaf. A week later (today), I noticed the same behavior on a bell pepper plant. They don't seem to hang out on these plants, just swarm and then leave. The zucchini plant, on the other hand, has loads of ants just hanging out, especially in and around the flowers.
So, are my ants benefical, or are they pests? Please help a novice gardener! Thanks so much in advance.
You can see pictures of my garden at:
Here is a link that might be useful: some pictures of the garden