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ants and aphids

 
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Location: Manchester
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Joy Oasis wrote:I have the same situation, and I've been putting out borax/sugar syrup baits to ants and find many dead ones, but there is still plenty of them to protect aphids on my cucumbers and melons. That said I am gardening in a community garden full of cooperating type of ants -Argentian ones, so if one nest doesn't have enough memebers, other nests supply to them. If you have black aphids, they are much easier to deal with - save some banana peels and cut them up small. Scratch them into the soil surface around affected plants. Aphids will leave in 2 or 3 days. Plants uptake whatever is in the peels and black aphids do not like it. Not the green ones though. Those are the ones that are on the cucurbits.



Water, vinegar and ammonia are great repellents if they manage to get indoors.
 
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Joy Oasis wrote:Wow, I like the idea of housing for the beneficial wasps. Do they like tunnels to be facing sideways or up? How long? Maybe I could just tie up a bundle of dried hollow stems?



My nesting holes are horizontally oriented but I think the wasps are accepting of whatever opportunities present themselves. Drill the holes as deep as you can without going all the way through leaving a solid back to them. Drill into dry wood with a sharp bit at high rpm to ensure a smooth splinterless hole. Drill various hole diameters small and large, if competition for holes is high the smaller bees and wasps will be evicted from the larger holes and move to a hole size they can defend. My aphid wasps have been very happy using holes 3 inches deep. This year I picked up some specialty small diameter long drill bits so now I can drill 1/8 inch holes 5&5/8 inches deep I will see if this makes a difference. They will use hollow stems as well or even excavate their own chambers from pithy stems. So mix it up and see what works best for you.
 
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I've found that ants seem to prefer honeydew produced from aphids raised on sunflowers (any Helianthus spp. including Sunchokes and various perennial sunflowers) and will pull aphids off of everything 30-75 feet from the sunflowers (depending on the sunflower plot size). Best of all, the sunflowers don't seem to be bothered by the aphids, even when infested heavily.

Always had a hard time keeping the aphids at bay on certain crops, but the worst always was yardlong beans; aphids would become so infested they would destroy flowers before they set fruit and would damage the fruits to the point they would not be marketable. I almost gave up on the crop entirely. Then one year I planted bed full of sunchokes about 20 ft away from one of my yardlong bean plots and that plot had zero aphids. Another plot of yardlong beans was around 100 feet away from the sunchokes and was infested normally. The sunchokes were infested with aphids and covered with ants, but yields were good. The next season I tried annual sunflowers in one part of the garden and planted a row of perennial Maximillian sunflowers along one edge. Both were effective at enticing the ants to round up all the nearby aphids and tend them on the sunflowers instead of my crops.
 
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Maybe our ants are different, because there are lenty sunflowers growing around (I garden in the community garden plot), and I have yacon blooming, which seems to be in the same  family, but ants still prefer cucumbers.
 
Joy Oasis
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Matt Bearup wrote:
My nesting holes are horizontally oriented but I think the wasps are accepting of whatever opportunities present themselves. Drill the holes as deep as you can without going all the way through leaving a solid back to them. Drill into dry wood with a sharp bit at high rpm to ensure a smooth splinterless hole. Drill various hole diameters small and large, if competition for holes is high the smaller bees and wasps will be evicted from the larger holes and move to a hole size they can defend. My aphid wasps have been very happy using holes 3 inches deep. This year I picked up some specialty small diameter long drill bits so now I can drill 1/8 inch holes 5&5/8 inches deep I will see if this makes a difference. They will use hollow stems as well or even excavate their own chambers from pithy stems. So mix it up and see what works best for you.


Great, thank you so much for the tips. I will start with hollow stem bundle as it is quick and easy, and then look into wooden version.
 
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