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corn being attacked by ants!!  RSS feed

 
Kenny Garcia
Posts: 85
Location: Southern California
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So my corn is completely infested with ants and it looks like they are laying eggs all over the stalks any ideas besides pesticides?

 
Paul Cereghino
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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I have never heard of corn being 'attacked' by ants, though ants crawl all over stuff. Usually the sins of ants involve farming their domestic herds of aphids. Eggs are usually carefully tended in underground chambers by nanny's while workers bring them back delicacies like aphid poop, and are laid by a bulbous queen that you will never see without a shovel. They really are a family values kind of species.

You might spend some time watching them to try to figure out exactly what they do where they go, and what they do there. The seldom stop moving except on business. You might try to identify some kind of damage to the corn, or other nefarious behavoir and try to describe and photograph that. I used to work at a garden center, and often some plant damage was caused by one creature, and then when the gardener was watching, they see another creature walking by, and they get pinned with the crime... "I've been framed" they gesticulate with their antenna, but no one pays attention to their plea, squish... sad story.
 
Kenny Garcia
Posts: 85
Location: Southern California
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really?? wow well is there anything i can do to get them off my corn
 
Paul Cereghino
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People who want to hurt ants without poisons usually use boric acid or diatomaceous earth... Usually because they are getting in the house (sugar ants). I think I read recently that there are around 1,000,000 ants on earth for every human. But if there is not damage, it might be a learning experience, and the ants may be gathering organic materials and bringing them back to your garden, depending on what kind they are... keep an eye out for aphids though (not a problem on corn around here..)
 
                        
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Location: San Diego
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Your picture shows an infestation of aphids. The ants are protecting the aphids from predators and feeding on the sweet secretions of the aphids. The best way to get rid of the aphids is to blast them off with a stream of water from a hose. You will have to do this several times a day but corn is sturdy enough to take it with no damage. If you want to use an organic pesticide probaby your best bet would be a mix of Safers soap (available at most nurseries) and neem oil. Neither one is harmful to you or your animals but the mix will kill aphids and discourage ants. Unfortunately it will kill beneficial predator insects also.
 
Victor Johanson
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Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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Why do anything? Are they harming the corn in any way? Perhaps there are aphids, although I can't see any in the photo. But it is certain these ants are performing some function in your ecosystem, and eradicating them isn't necessarily desirable. Unless you have evidence that they are causing damage, do nothing but observe and learn. I was pleased to find ants breeding in my hugelbeet; diversity is welcome there and plant growth is far more vigorous and healthy than in the regular garden plots.
 
                        
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Victor Johanson wrote:Why do anything? Are they harming the corn in any way? Perhaps there are aphids, although I can't see any in the photo. But it is certain these ants are performing some function in your ecosystem, and eradicating them isn't necessarily desirable. Unless you have evidence that they are causing damage, do nothing but observe and learn. I was pleased to find ants breeding in my hugelbeet; diversity is welcome there and plant growth is far more vigorous and healthy than in the regular garden plots.


Look at the picture again, especially the central stalk. It is packed with aphids. You may have mistaken them for droplets of water but you can see the tiny legs on some of them.
 
Victor Johanson
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Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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It looks like most of them are water droplets, because I can see the cornstalk veins magnified through them. I'm not seeing the legs. But aphids would certainly explain the ants' presence. Unless aphids are really horrible, they're usually not much to worry about; predators will multiply rapidly. The garden hose thing works pretty good; I've done that on my beans before, and a flock of birds immediately descended to feast on the dislodged aphids.
 
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