Aphid Farming

Gardener:Old Mangakino Orchard (McCallum's Garden)

Date:09 Nov 2022

Blog Type:Vegetables

This is our first year with a greenhouse and one of the first things I noticed was that some ants had made themselves a home inside. I'm a believer in letting nature do its thing and only intervene where necessary. 

I started doing some research around ants and they can be both good and bad. Apparently their nesting habits can help roots but can also harm them if they cut through to make tunnels. The ants also eat eggs of some pests and can also kill unwanted bugs too, which is not a bad thing. They are unintentional pollinators as they often go for the nectar in the flowers and I always find them in the strawberry blossoms. I believe they have been helping with pollination. To date they have not eaten the strawberries and overall the greenhouse is pretty much bug free.

However... there is always a however. Certain ants are farmers and they farm aphids for the sweet sugary secretion they produce. They will carry them onto a plant and protect them. They round them up like a farmer would and the aphids have no issues being carried around by them. I have noticed this with our capsicum plant and I have removed several leaves and sprayed the plant. This helped but turns out our ants are really good farmers. They appear to have a stash in their nest which they bring out and they have realised that I am removing them so they are upping their game. I found a leaf today that had heaps on it. Turned it over and then went inside to get my phone to take a photo. By the time I got back, they had moved them all. I have to admire their farming skills and their dedication. 

I'm undecided as to whether to get rid of them. For now, they can stay as I believe they are doing more good than harm. Just need to stay on top of their livestock!

On the brightside we have lots of capsicum forming and overall the plant is very strong. 

Aphid Farming