You have put all your efforts into your sunflower plantation only to find ants eating up the leaves and sunflower petals. This could be really irritating, and if you don’t adopt preventive measures early, your efforts will go in vain. So how to get rid of ants on sunflowers?
To keep ants away from the sunflower you should use good-quality ant deterrents. Also, you can use some homemade remedies to prevent ants from eating away the sunflowers. Ants are attracted to the nectar these flowers produce; hence you have to apply things that ants can’t bear the smell or taste of.
If you are already facing the problems of ants on sunflower leaves and plants, here is a guide with tried and tested tips to help you get rid of them. Plus, I have also shared an easy method to make your own anti ant spray that I personally use and found effective.
Why Do Ants Like Sunflowers? 3 Reasons They Don’t Leave Your Sunflowers Alone
Ants on sunflowers are a common problem. But have you ever wondered why ants are attracted to sunflowers so much? There are some solid reasons ants are after your sunflowers, and below mentioned are the ones you must be aware of:
1. Extrafloral Nectaries
Sunflowers produce extrafloral nectaries from glands on the undersides of the sunflower leaves. Ants love feeding on this nectar which is why you see plenty of ants sticking to the sunflower leaves, sucking the nectar.
The fresh baby sunflower leaves produce more of the extrafloral nectaries, and ants cling to these until they damage the leaves. Sunflower nectar and pollen are one of the most obvious reasons for ants and other small insects always hovering over these beautiful flowers.
The clear sticky substance you see on the sunflower plant is honeydew. It’s a sap that comes from sugar along with other substances from the plant, and it has a very sweet taste that ants are attracted to.
Mainly the black ants (Monomorium minimum) are a fan of honeydew on sunflowers. These ants mark the trail between the sunflower plants and their nest with scented pheromones once they find out about the sunflower plantation.
Aphids are tiny insects that feed on the sunflower buds. While aphids are not the direct reason for ants on sunflowers, they are surely a cause adding to ants getting attracted to sunflowers. Aphids live on the back of the sunflower leaves or their stalks.
Aphids feed on the nutritious sunflower sap from the stalks and leaves to meet their nitrogen requirements. Then the aphids excrete a sweet sticky honeydew in the sunflower plant, attracting ants.
How To Get Rid Of Ants on Sunflowers? 8 Tried & Tested Methods
Now that you know why so many ants are on your sunflowers, it’s time to find a solution. So how to stop ants on sunflowers? Is it even possible to eliminate the entire ant population from the plantation?
Well, following the methods mentioned below, you can definitely get rid of ants on sunflowers. I have personally used a few of these in my garden and found them extremely beneficial. So let’s take a look.
1. Use Ant Deterrent Smells Around The Sunflower Plant
Image Credit: Pickpik
Ant deterrent smells like cinnamon or mint work great keeping these little monsters away from the sunflowers. Ants hate the smell of cinnamon or mint, so keeping such flavored gums around the plant won’t attract ants.
Another way to use these ant deterrents is to sprinkle some of them around the base of the plant. You can grind dry mint leaves to get that powdery texture. For cinnamon, just use some readymade cinnamon powder and sprinkle it around the plant base.
2. Keep Ant Traps
You can make a DIY ant trap using just two basic things – paper and some Vaseline petroleum jelly. Take a piece of paper, and cut out about an 8-inch wide circle. Now cut a small hole at the center wide enough to fit the plant base.
Now apply petroleum jelly to smear the edges of the paper and place this around the plant base with the Vaseline side up. When ants approach the sunflower, they will get stuck in it.
3. Plant Ant Deterrent Plants
Image Credit: Wikimedia
Like the ant deterrent smells or spices, you can use ant repellent plants to keep ants away from sunflowers as well. Ants won’t come close to your sunflower plantation if there is garlic, aster, geranium, calendula, chrysanthemum, rosemary, peppermint, lemongrass, thyme, or tansy plants nearby the sunflower plants.
Since ants can’t tolerate their smells, they won’t be able to stick to the sunflower leaves and destroy them.
4. Deploy Sticky Barriers On The Stems
Using sticky barriers like Tree Tanglefoot Insect Barrier or Catchmaster Barrier Adhesive Kit will help you keep away ants. These sticky barriers make it difficult for ants to climb up the plants, so they will keep them away from your sunflowers.
But applying sticky barriers directly may ruin the plant; hence it’s best to apply the barrier first to another surface like masking tape and then wrap it around the stems. You’ll have to keep reapplying the sticky barriers when you see them lose their effects.
5. Use Ant Killing Food
Using ant killing food is another way to get rid of ants on sunflowers. One of the best ant killing foods is mixing sugar and borax and scattering them around the sunflower plant. Cornmeal and sugar are other great ant killing foods too.
The smell of sugar will attract ants, and as the ants eat it, they will instantly kill these insects.
6. Clear Aphids
As you have seen in the reasons section, aphids are one of the prime reasons ants get attracted to sunflower plants. Ants love the sweet honeydew aphids extracted from the plant, which is why clearing aphids off the sunflower plants is important.
Lesser aphids would mean no honeydew and lesser chances of ants getting attracted to the sweet nectar.
7. Apply Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth is a natural product that looks similar to talcum or baking powder. It’s made from marine phytoplankton, which works great on keeping ants away from sunflower plants. You simply have to sprinkle some around the base of the plants so that ants can’t come near the plants.
8. Use Homemade Ant Deterrents
You can make your own homemade ant deterrents like lemon spray or black pepper spray. Spray them around the sunflower plantation to avoid any damage. I’ve shared a detailed guide on how to make homemade anti ant spray in the following section.
How To Make Your Own Homemade Anti Ant Spray: Quickly and Easily
A lot of you might not be in favor of using chemical anti ant sprays. So here is how you can make your own homemade anti ant spray that’ll go gentle on your sunflower plants but won’t spare those nasty ants.
Here are what you’ll need and the steps you need to follow to make it.
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 2 tablespoons liquid dish soap
Simply combine baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and liquid dish soap and combine well. Pour this into a spray bottle and add water as and when needed.
Tip: Baking soda creates a lot of foam so pour it slowly into the bottle allowing the mixture to settle down before filling the bottle completely.
Q1: Are Ants Bad For Sunflowers?
Yes, ants are bad for your sunflowers. Since they like the nectar, they may eat up all your sunflowers. Some gardeners even complain that ants have ruptured the growth of their sunflower plants.
Q2: How Do You Treat Bugs On Sunflowers?
You can treat bugs on sunflowers by using neem oil, insecticidal oil, sunflower covers, narrow-range oil, etc., which will keep bugs away from sunflowers.
Q3: Do Ants Spread Aphids?
No ants don’t spread aphids, but they keep them safe from parasites and predators.
Q4: What Eats Sunflower Leaves At Night?
Cutworms eat sunflower leaves at night. These tiny worms feed on the sunflower stems and leaves.
Q5: Do Ants Eat Sunflower Seeds?
Yes, ants eat sunflower seeds. Ants often open up the seeds and eat up the inside leaving the seeds hollow.
I hope this guide answers your question about how to get rid of ants on your sunflowers. The reasons for ants getting stuck to sunflowers may be many but using adequate measures will help you get rid of them and keep your sunflower healthy.
Using homemade remedies is one of the easiest plus effective methods, as it is gentle to the sunflowers, and repels the ants without killing them.
Follow my tips and tricks, and say goodbye to ant infestations for good. Happy gardening!
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