Flowers attract many insects, as a few are pollinating insects that are helpful for plants, but others can reach for their self-interests, like food. We have to deal with ants’ infestation in the garden during spring when the flowers are in full bloom, and the closed buds start to open.
Are Ants Attracted To Flowers? Ants are attracted to flowers due to their vibrant colors, juicy nectar, enticing fragrance, and aphids. In addition, they reach flowering plants for leaves and protection purposes. It is essential to stop ants to protect floral buds, nectaries, or plant structures, and they cause indirect damage through aphids.
The rate of attacking insects increases in the summer when these ants quickly reproduce and lay eggs to raise their population.
Why are ants attracted to flowers?
Flowers can attract the herbivorous species of ants looking for plant-based foods and living in the roots of plants. They are usually attracted to beautiful odors, moisture, and food sources.
They are also unintentional pollinators of the flowering plants and transfer the pollens between two opposite flowers while visiting them for food.
Presence of aphids
One of the significant reasons for ants to reach the flowers can be the presence of aphids on the particular flowering plant. They build mutual relationships with sap-sucking pests for honeydew.
The energy-rich sweet secretions on the leaves can grab their attention and force them to reach there. They take care of the adult aphids and their eggs by protecting them from attacks.
This way, they maintain a constant source of food, such as honeydew excreted by aphids, and provide instant energy to these tiny creatures to work actively.
Moreover, the worker ants recruit their colonies on the flowering plant when they find aphids and begin to live and multiply there.
Many flowers have extrafloral nectaries that can grab the attention of the nearby insects searching for sweet food sources rich in carbohydrates.
They reach the floral part of the plant and attack the blooming floret and their buds to suck the sweet juice. They love to consume nectar and usually reach the floral buds to eat it.
This sweet secretion or nectar contains a large content of sugar, which can potentially stimulate the movement of ants towards the plant when they detect its odor.
Accordingly, you can assume that long trails of these insects crawling above the stem of the plants aim to access the buds and get their food.
Ants can also reach flowers for their vibrant colors as their eyes are sensitive to yellow, red, green, and a few other beautiful colors of the florets.
Their sense of vision plays some role in identifying food resources in addition to smell. They are highly attracted to yellow and reach sunflowers and yellow roses for their color.
In addition, their eyes have multiple ommatidia or photoreceptors that can capture light and help differentiate colors.
Cut the leaves
Some ants can attack flowering plants for the leaves but reach the florets when exploring plants for food. They cut leaves and carry them back to their nests to build platforms.
They arrange leaves in an overlapping manner and make them wet to create a platform for fungal growth. This fungus breaks the leaves into simpler compounds for easier digestion in ants.
So, the plants having beautiful flowers and fresh green leaves can be attractive for these insects, as some species reach there for nectar, while others for leaves.
The beautiful fragrance of flowers spreads in the surroundings and feels tempting to ants as their odor receptors are highly sensitive and capture the molecules from the air.
Petals contain volatile organic compounds or oils that begin to evaporate and produce a particular floral scent. Lilies, jasmine, roses, and a few other plants are known for their attractive aromas.
Such sweet scents can entice these insects and push them to reach closer. So, it results in an attack of ants on florets that can cause mild to severe damage.
Protect the flowers
Ants do not reach flowers to eat them because a few of these insects also protect the plants and prevent attack from other insects and predators.
They build a symbiotic relationship with flowering plants and protect organisms that can destroy plant survival.
Survival of plants ensures the continuous production of healthy florets that can provide a constant food supply in the form of sweet secretions and sap.
Moisture or dew drops
You can find ants crawling on the flowering plant’s surface at different times of the day, but you can relate their attack with the presence of moisture if they reach during the early morning.
The presence of dew drops on the leaves and petals can attract dehydrated insects to climb the stem and reach the source of moisture.
In the same way, they can also reach the plant roots to live in humid conditions because roots absorb moisture from the soil and transfer it above the plant.
How do you keep ants away from flowers?
Ants can become damaging pests for flowers and destroy the floral buds by sucking nectar. They can also cause cosmetic damage by chewing leaves and allowing aphids to promote mold growth.
The sugar-loving species like pavement, pharaoh, argentine, carpenter, and many other ants can reach there for honeydew and nectar, which can cause severe damage.
It is essential to stop them from reaching the plant’s floral parts by building a physical and chemical barrier around them. Use sticky tapes around the stem to restrict them from climbing.
In addition, spread the citrus peels of lemons around the vase with jasmine or rose flowers, as their attractive scent can lead to the entry of insects.
You have to face more insects in spring and summer, and these ants are laying eggs. They need more food to feed their babies, so they explore all sources.
Use repelling substances to build a chemical boundary, as these insects do not cross chalk or cinnamon powder boundaries and stay away.
Spray a soapy solution to wash the plant’s surface and remove it immediately, but it is not a permanent solution as you have to kill their colonies using baits or insecticides.
Which flowers can attract ants?
There are a large number of flowering plants that can attract ants for their beautiful flowers. They can reach the floral buds of peonies and roses to suck the nectar secretions.
In addition, they can also get attracted to clematis and dahlias for bright-colored flowers and aphids, which can invite other insects to enjoy the excreted honeydew.
Penstemons and sunflowers also attract ants due to their colorful blossoms, as they like vibrant colors. Some Cornelius ants can also reach desert willow for its sweet secretions or nectar.
Moreover, the nectaries of spotted spurge can also catch their attention, and these insects play a role in pollination.
Furthermore, marigolds, hibiscus, and passion flowers also have extrafloral nectaries that can provide nutrition to these insects and attract them with sweet odors of secretions.
Are ants attracted to dead flowers?
Dead flowers also attract ants because they feed on dead and decaying organic matter. They become a direct or indirect source of nutrition for these tiny creatures during decomposition.
Moreover, other insects like beetles and flies can reach decaying plant matter, which can become prey for ants. Their nectaries keep producing nectar for some time after getting dead.
Accordingly, ants keep coming until the nectaries stop the production of sweet secretions.