Many people grow ginger plants to enjoy fresh culinary herbs in their gardens, but a few garden pests, like ants, can create a problem by reaching this plant.
Are Ants Attracted To Ginger? Ants are not attracted to ginger due to its unpleasant odor and bad taste, as they avoid eating it. However, they can reach ginger plants for their seeds and aphids living on the plant. They mutually associate with the plants to eat seeds and help in dispersing seeds. You can also use it to deter ants by putting slices or spraying a ginger and garlic solution.
Ants are usually considered harmful pests for plants but can also benefit growth. They build symbiotic relationships with plants and help disperse seeds.
Do ants like the smell of ginger?
Ants have an incredible sense of detecting a variety of odors because they contain many odor receptors to capture the molecules and process them.
A broad range of aromatic compounds in ginger gives it a distinct citric aroma. Some people find its aroma spicy, but its floral and woody notes also contribute to its aroma.
Moreover, ants do not like its smell because they avoid citrus or spicy odors and consider sugary food pleasant. Many wild and domestic ginger plant species have different aromas and tastes.
It has a strong aroma due to the presence of gingerols or ketones that are primarily present in the roots. Fresh ginger has a slightly sweet or peppery taste, but its aroma is not attractive to ants.
This culinary herb adds an amazing aroma to food items but causes discomfort for the tiny insects as they feel irritated after detecting strong odors in their surroundings.
In addition, they cannot concentrate on foraging after finding a slice of ginger in their foraging path. Its strong smell masks its pheromone scents and creates problems in movement.
They cannot maintain long trails after losing their ability to detect the scent of chemical secretions on the ground surface. This way, they lose the direction to move ahead and turn their heads back.
Accordingly, they do not like the smell of ginger and prefer to stay away from its offensive odor, which can help avoid disturbances in their activities.
Can ants eat ginger?
Ants are not inherently attracted to ginger for nutrition and energy, as these insects prefer sweet food. They do not like its peppery and fiery taste, creating a hot sensation on the tongue.
It has a peppery taste due to gingerol, a compound related to piperine and capsaicin. These compounds make it taste spicy and unpleasant for these tiny creatures.
Accordingly, they do not find it appealing and avoid eating this undesirable food source without considering its nutritional value.
They can eat carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and oils, providing plenty of energy, but reject food sources with bad odor and taste.
Moreover, I have never found any species of ants crawling on the ginger, even if I put it openly on the countertop. They usually reach a sweet food source but avoid it if present closely.
Most probably, they reject it as food and look for other food sources, but there can be some variation among thousands of species present worldwide.
A few species build mutualistic relationships with the ginger plant and seek nutrition from different parts of the plant except underground stems or rhizomes.
What type of ants are attracted to ginger plants?
Nutritional requirements vary among different species of ants, depending on their habitat. Some species are attracted to wild ginger plants for nutrition from aphids and seeds.
Most commonly, the tropical fire ant reaches the plant, and it is named for this particular behavior and is widely known as the ginger ant.
It has aggressive behavior and an omnivorous nature, reaching the plant for seeds and honeydew secretions of scale insects.
In addition, argentine, carpenter, and pavement ants can also attack ginger plants because they obtain nutrition from plant-based food and attack other insects living on plants.
The odorous house ants or Tapinoma sessile also build mutual relationships with ginger plants and contribute to seed dispersal.
You have to stop these ants from reaching plants because they are indirectly responsible for causing damage to the plant’s integrity and structure.
They allow aphids to grow uncontrollably, which can ultimately pose a danger and affect the survival rate of the plants. They suck nutrients and make plants deficient in essential nutrients.
So, you can control their population using insecticidal sprays or deadly baits. The active ingredients in bait cause toxicity in their bodies and cause death.
Are ants beneficial for the ginger plant?
Ants are opportunistic organisms that can build a symbiotic relationship with other organisms for their benefit and sometimes offer some advantages to others.
Similarly, they also build a mutualistic relationship with a wild ginger plant in which both organisms benefit from their interactions.
Moreover, they are considered beneficial for plants because they contribute to seed dispersal. They carry seeds on their tiny bodies and shift them to the fertile soil.
Ants are not true pollinators, and they do not intentionally disperse seeds. It happens due to their behavior of carrying seeds back to their nests and throwing seeds remains out of their nests.
It is estimated that around 35 to 40% of the forest floor plants, including wild ginger, are dispersed by ants because these are common crawling insects on the ground.
These dispersed seeds grow into a new plant, increasing the total number of plants. In addition, they get food from the plant by eating seeds or elaiosomes within the seeds.
Elaisomes are nutrient-rich parts of the seeds that can provide plenty of energy to tiny insects while they discard other parts of the seeds. These seeds can germinate and grow into bigger plants.
In addition, some species of aphids or scale insects infest plants and suck sap from the stems to produce an excretion. This excretion is sweet honeydew, which can become a food source for ants.
So, ants reach ginger plants for nutrition, eat honeydew or seeds of the plant, and provide benefits by dispersing seeds.
How do you use ginger to repel ants?
You can use ginger as a deterrent for ants due to its repelling odor that can help keep nuisance pests away from the house.
Cut it into thin slices for placing in entryways. Look for all the possible entry routes and follow the trails to locate the entrance areas in-house.
Put a few slices close to the baseboard, window sills, countertop, and other indoor spots, favoring their sneaking behavior. Its repelling scent makes them turn their heads quickly and go away.
In addition, you can also prepare a spray of ginger and garlic paste by mixing it in water. The oils obtained for ginger rhizomes and garlic cloves have insect-repelling properties.
Grate a small piece of ginger to prepare a repelling solution for ants, and add 1 tablespoon in around 2 to 2.5 cups of water.
Mince a few garlic cloves and add 1 tablespoon of minced garlic to the prepared mixture. Boil the water for a few minutes and turn off the flame. Keep it aside for around 7 to 10 minutes.
After that, strain the liquid to remove the chunks of garlic and ginger and make a smooth spraying solution. Transfer the liquid into a spraying bottle and spray it on the infested areas.
Spray the solution directly on the bodies of ants moving in trails, as they cannot survive after drowning in the solution.
Furthermore, you have to re-spray this solution when it dries; otherwise, its deterring effect disappears.