Ants!

curdle(9b, Australia)February 22, 2014

I think I have discovered why Frederic Mistral hasn't bloomed at all this year. Careful watering, occasional fertilizing all year hasn't made a difference - the plant that was so generous with flowers last summer has barely even put on any fresh growth. He doesn't look particularly sick, but all the new bud nodes just seem to peter out into nothing..
I tipped him out of his pot, and there were ants everywhere! A whole colony seems to have set up shop - eggs tunnels the works.. grr.

I've heard soaking the pot can help kill off the ants, so he is currently sitting in a giant sized water filled garbage bag in a larger pot. The laundry trough isnt large enough, and I'm pretty sure my flatmate wouldn't appreciate me using the bath, hehe

I was going to leave him there for a few hours..I just hope I dont drown him along with the ants..

Has anyone else tried this method? I tried it it once with a tomato plant, with limited success..but then again, being an annual, it only had a limited time in which to recover anyway..

I'm so annoyed with myself that I didn't think to check earlier. I just put it down to the weird weather we have had this season- a lot of my roses haven't done as well as they did last year.

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seil zone 6b MI

You might want to change out the potting soil. I'm not sure soaking will kill the eggs. I would bare root it, soak it and then repot with fresh soil. It may set him back for a bit but I think in the long run he'll do better.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 11:47AM
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susan4952(5)

I use an ant stake stuck into the soil. Works very well.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 10:28PM
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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens)

If you are prepared to use a pesticide, spreading a bit of granular or powdery chlorpyrifos (brand names will vary from country to country but Dursban is a common brand) and watering will do the trick. Ants are often the sign that something else is also living near where they nest. All usual precautions and disclaimers about the use of organophosphates apply.
Nik

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 1:18AM
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vasue(7A Charlottesville)

How did that work for you? Ants colonized one of my potted roses last Summer while it was still in its 3-gallon nursery pot. That rose needed watering more frequently in comparison to its neighbors. Redoing the bed where it was to be planted took longer than anticipated, so decided to give it a larger pot in the meantime. Soaked its soil really well with the hose, then put a saucer beneath and soaked again. Shortly after it began to rain steadily. Went back out afterwards to empty the saucer & found it full of ants, many carrying eggs & pupae, along with more swarming over the pot sides only to face the moat of the saucer. Removed the saucer & tipped it out in the grass. Placed the saucer & pot in the grass & sat down to watch many more ants exit the drainage holes or down the sides with their treasures & scurry away into the grass. (Yes, I can be easily amused & curious to learn!)

Figured their home in the pot had been thoroughly flooded due to the saucer impeding free drainage in the rain & allowing the soil to waterlog. Over several hours, many returned to the pot & saucer to retrieve their next generation. Flooded the pot in its saucer again the next morning & found no more ants.

Best guess they decided to permantly abandon the pot as it was no longer safe. Have seen the same thing when turning up an ant nest in unworked soil while enlarging the garden. When that happens, typically leave the nest open for a day, only to find they've all relocated when I return. Have no beef with ordinary ants outside & no wish to harm them, preferring to peacefully coexist when possible.

Went ahead & repotted the rose the next day as I'd meant to anyway. This time I lined the bottom of the new pot with landscape fabric to prevent ants from taking up residence again. Habitually do this with permanently potted plants, finding it an effective barrier deterrent.

Think that ant eggs & to a lesser extent their pupae need the adult ants to care for them. Info linked below mentions this. At any rate, haven't seen ants in that pot since, and the rose hasn't needed extra amounts of water & has thrived.

Perhaps you could duplicate these conditions, leaving an exit for the ants. Figure the colony cleared out & took their eggs, larvae & pupae with them in my case, more effectively than I could have removed them otherwise. Best of luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: ant eggs & pupae

This post was edited by vasue on Thu, Feb 27, 14 at 10:26

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 3:45PM
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curdle(9b, Australia)

Thank you all very much for the advice. :)

I ended up soaking it twice...First time in the pot for four hours; waited until there were no more air bubbles popping up, pulled it out and as there still appeared to be ant activity, depotted, and put him back in. The second time it seemed to work better.

I was too afraid to bare root it, (although that would probably been the most sensible thing to do) so I compromised and worked as much soil as i could away by jetting the root ball with water until it seemed ant and egg free, then put him in a larger pot with fresh potting mix.

Anyways, it seems to have worked! There was a bit of activity the next day, but it appeared to be the ants abandoning ship (although there may not have been any eggs left to take..)
For the first time this year Freddy is starting new growth! His bud nodes are now flushing pink, and I can even see shoots on one.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 5:19AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

The ants here can live under water for several weeks. Nasty things.

You can use a boric acid solution of water, boric acid, and a little sugar in a dish as an ant bait. It works on some species, not all. Putting a screen or something over the dish to keep out pets but not ants is a good idea. Boric acid is usually available at pharmacies, some grocery stores.

Here is a link that might be useful: boric acid and ants.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 9:44AM
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thedogsLL(6B)

You could try food grade diatomaceous earth also, especially if pets are around. It won't hurt them if they do ingest a small amount, and it does a real number on any insect that has an exoskeleton.

Here is a link that might be useful: National Pesticide Center

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 6:59PM
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