When you’re growing chilli plants it can be incredibly disheartening to check on your chilli plants and find a swarm of ants crawling all over them.
Why are they there? Are they going to damage your plants?
And how do you get rid of them?
How To Get Rid of Ants From Chilli Plants
To repel ants, you can spread a spicy seasoning—such as cayenne pepper or chilli powder—near your plants. While this won’t kill the ants, it should deter them from taking up residence on your plants.
Alternatively, you can create a trap containing sugar and borax, which will kill the ants.
Keep reading to learn more about why ants hang out on chilli plants, if they’ll damage them, and some effective methods of getting rid of the tiny pests.
Why Are There Ants On My Chilli Plant?
Ants don’t usually eat fruit and vegetable plants, so you might be wondering why they’d decide to swarm your chilli plants. If they aren’t eating them, what are they doing there?
It turns out, the ants are looking for aphids: pests that can be incredibly damaging to your chilli plants. Aphids secrete a sweet, sugary substance commonly called “honeydew.”
Ants are attracted to all things sweet—especially honeydew from aphids.
They collect it, then carry it back to the colony to feed themselves and the queen; you’ve probably seen them do something similar with melted candy on the ground.
Because ants know the aphids are a valuable resource, they’ll protect them from predators. This means that ants allow aphids to thrive on their host plant, which is bad news for your chilli plants.
What Home Remedy Kills Ants On Plants?
There are several effective home remedies that kill ants. First of all, you can sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your chilli plants. As the ants consume it, it will slowly dehydrate and kill them.
Another effective method for killing ants is to set out sugar and borax traps near your plants. Boric acid, which is what borax consists of, will kill ants after they eat it.
The toxin damages their digestive system and eventually leads to their demise.
It’s important to note that boric acid is also toxic to humans and pets. It’s unlikely that you or your dog will eat enough boric acid to be dangerous, but if you accidentally consume some, you should call poison control right away.
You can also spread chili powder or cayenne pepper around the base of your plants. Ants hate the strong scent, so they’re less likely to come near your plants.
Why Are Ants Attracted To My Chilli Plant?
Ants aren’t attracted to your chilli plants because they want to eat them. Instead, they’re interested in a pest that might be living on your plants: aphids.
Aphids secrete a fluid called “honeydew” that ants love to eat. It’s sugary and sweet, and if the ants protect the aphids, they’ll have a constant supply of it.
So the ants make their home on your chilli plants alongside the aphids, protecting them from any predators that might come along. The ants will do anything to protect this valuable food source.
Do Ants Eat Chilli?
Ants won’t eat your chilli plants—leaves, stems, or fruit. Instead, they eat the honeydew secretions from aphids, who are likely also living on your chili plants.
The aphids will damage your plants by consuming the liquid inside the leaves and stems.
One species of ant, the leafcutter ant, may destroy some of your chilli leaves. However, they aren’t actually feeding on the leaves, as they use them to create a fungus for their larvae to eat.
Do Ants Like Chilli Powder?
Ants, like most insects and pests, dislike strong scents. Because of this, chilli powder actually makes for a great ant deterrent.
Simply spread chili powder liberally around the base of your plants. When ants come across it, they’ll turn around and head back in the other direction.
Of course, if you do this while there are ants on your plants, they won’t have anywhere to go and will keep hanging out on your chilli plants.
Are Ants Eating My Chilli Leaves?
It’s highly unlikely that ants are eating the leaves of your chilli plants. In fact, there’s only one species of ant that will attack the leaves of your chilli plants: the leafcutter ant.
However, even the leafcutter ant isn’t eating your chilli leaves. Instead, once they remove pieces of the leaves from the plant, they return to the colony and turn the leaves into a nutritious fungus.
This fungus is then used as a source of food for the ants’ larvae.
Will Ants Harm My Chilli Plants?
Because ants don’t typically eat the leaves or stems of chilli plants, they’re unlikely to directly harm them. However, if you notice a lot of ants on your plants, it could mean you have an aphid problem.
Aphids are an extremely common garden pest. They bite the leaves or stem of a plant and feed on the liquids inside. If you have an infestation of aphids, they can seriously damage or kill your chilli plants.
Since ants will protect aphids in order to be able to feast on their secretions, they can help the aphids grow to an unmanageable number. This can obviously be very damaging to your chilli plants, which is why many gardeners try to remove ants from their growing plants.
What Kills Ants But Not Chilli Plants?
Thankfully, it’s simple to remove ants from your garden without harming your chilli plants. Here are just a few ways to safely eradicate them:
- Make traps with a solution of sugar and borax. The sugar will attract the ants, while the borax will kill them once them consume it. Because it doesn’t ever come into contact with your chilli plants, they’ll stay perfectly safe.
- Place diatomaceous earth around your plants. This, too, will kill the ants without ever coming into contact with your chilli plants. The diatomaceous earth will slowly dehydrate and kill the ants.
- Drown the ants with Dawn dish washing soap. Dish soap is poisonous to ants and will quickly kill them, especially when combined with baking soda and water. This mixture is completely safe to use around plants so long as you use Dawn dish soap and not a different, harsher chemical.
- Pour boiling water on the ants’ nest. Of course, this method only works if you know where the ants’ nest is, but it can effectively kill the entire colony. You may have to pour boiling water on the nest several times before it reaches the queen. Be sure not to pour boiling water on your chilli plants, though, as it can kill them.
While ants won’t eat your chili plants, they can indirectly damage them by creating a friendly environment for aphids. Over time, aphids will kill your plants by biting the leaves and stems and consuming all the liquid.
Because of this, you may want to remove the ants from your chilli plants.
This is relatively easy to do, and there are a variety of methods that will kill the ants without harming your chilli plants.
When you remove ants and aphids from your chilli plants, you can rest easy knowing your plants are safe and sound.