Many plant pests attack onions to seek nutrition or shelter from them, but ants have some criteria for choosing their food for nutrition, as it needs to be sweet and have a pleasant odor.
Are Ants Attracted To Onions? Ants are not attracted to onions due to sulfur or allicin compounds that give a strong odor and repel insects. These compounds interfere with their foraging trails and irritate their receptors, so they avoid eating them. You can use small slices of raw onions to deter ants from the house, but some of their species can reach onion plants for honeydew.
A few species of ants consider these vegetables a food source, while most avoid eating them due to their odor, taste, and texture. Their tiny teeth find it difficult to make their way through outer peels.
Why are ants not attracted to onions?
Ants have strong odor receptors that are sensitive to almost every type of odor molecule in nature, with a minor difference in chemical nature.
Moreover, they can efficiently detect and classify mild to strong odors as pleasant or unpleasant. They consider mild or sweet aromas pleasant and relate them to edible food sources.
In contrast, they perceive strong odors as unpleasant and prefer to stay away because strong fragrances can irritate their receptors.
Onion belongs to the allium family, which contains allicin compounds with strong odors. In addition, it also contains sulfur compounds in varying amounts, as white ones have less quantity.
Red onions have a larger content of sulfur compounds, as 50 to 55mg of these compounds are present in 100g. These compounds are volatile in nature and are released into the air after the removal of peels.
These volatile compounds irritate ants’ receptors and interfere with their activities by masking the scent of their chemical secretions. It interrupts foraging activities, so these ants avoid it.
Do ants eat onions?
We know about the dietary habits of ants, that they can eat almost everything that is easily accessible to them. However, they still choose food by its smell, taste, and texture.
They do not find onions an attractive food source due to their bad odor. It is not a primary food source, as they avoid eating it until they have plenty of sugary foods.
However, they can consider it a secondary food source and move to the bulb of onions in the soil to get nutrition. You can see a few of their trails moving towards the plant in the soil.
They do not reach a healthy or young plant because they produce a strong scent at the peak of their developmental cycle.
Accordingly, they only attack old bulbs when rotting or going through a decaying process because their level of attraction increases when their odor gets mild.
Its intensity of smell depends on the freshness of the bulb because a fresh onion smells and tastes terrible, which means it is not appealing to insects.
Their taste and texture change from tangy and crispy to mildly sweet and soft when they enter the later stages of the growth cycle.
So, it is not a primary choice for ants to eat it because they prefer to eat foods rich in carbohydrates and natural sugars. They can eat yellow or red onions, which have a mild sweet taste.
Does onion peel repel ants?
Onions are good repellents of ants due to their pungent odor that can irritate insects and even people if the volatile compounds are inhaled.
They can deter ants from a particular area when you put a few slices of raw onion on the ground. However, these are not good at killing ants, even if you spray their juice on their bodies.
It is better to peel and cut it into thick slices. Put these slices at entry spots to deter them from entering a house. Its odor creates a repelling field and repels insects.
You can use it to keep ants at bay because its strong scent is disturbing insects moving around the slices. Put its slices close to the trails to kick them away from the house naturally.
Moreover, it is a non-toxic method to repel annoying pests, making it a suitable choice for people trying to reduce the risk by avoiding insecticidal sprays.
Spraying a solution of onion and garlic on their trails can bring better results because both are good deterring ingredients, and the strength of the force field increases.
You can extract its juice to prepare a solution and spray it on infested locations and high ant activity areas to remove them.
Do ants attack onion plants?
Some species of ants can attack onion bulbs and leaves when they do not find any other food source in their surrounding areas because it is not a primary food source.
Ants attack onion plants when they find a source of food or moisture close to them because they can sacrifice their lives and eat unpleasant food, sometimes in an hour of need.
They infest the plant’s surface if other insects are present on it that can become a potential food source for them.
Mites, maggots, aphids, beetles, and thrips are common pests that can attract omnivorous ants to plants because they can eat insects and smaller invertebrates.
I found tiny red ants infestation in my onion pots, eating tiny thrips, so I kept cucumber peels around the pot to deter them.
In addition, dying and weak plants attract them because it is easy to infest the bulbs and leaves when their odor and taste are sweet.
They can cause damage to the leaf, stem, or bulb and leave tiny spots or holes. Small bite marks appear on the leaves after the attack, resulting in wilting.
How do you keep ants away from onion plants?
The onion plant’s structure differs from other plants because the bulb is embedded in the soil, and leaves begin to appear above the ground.
Ants can reach the part of the plant above the ground and dig into the soil to reach the bulb when they have no other potential food sources.
Accordingly, you have to use repelling solutions to keep them away from the plant because they can adapt to the unpleasant scent of onions over time.
Moreover, you can spray vinegar by mixing it in water to make it less damaging to the leaf’s integrity, as its acidic nature can harm its survival.
It can kill ants after direct contact with their bodies or repel them efficiently due to its bad odor. It is better to test this method on a small surface area to see if burns appear.
Spray the solution directly on the trails, which can help drown insects, and apply it on the plant when it is safe to use.
Neem oil spray and other repelling solutions can help get rid of these ants by preventing infestations.
You can create a thick boundary of repelling powders like cinnamon and diatomaceous earth or spread cucumber or ginger slices and bay leaves around the plant.
So, these natural deterrents can help remove these nuisance pests from areas around the plant by irritating and causing discomfort for them.