Many gardeners feel annoyed to see ants in the backyard attacking the flowering plants. These tiny insects reach hibiscus plants to get food from stems, leaves, flowers, and fruit that are loaded with nutritional elements essential for their survival.
Can Ants Kill My Hibiscus Plant? Ants can kill hibiscus plants by sucking floral nectar, supporting aphids’ growth to eat their excreted honeydew, and attracting mold to grow. Ants eat insects beneficial to plants and cause the deformation of leaves, the poor opening of floral buds, and a reduction in plant vigor.
Sugar-loving insects like honeypot ants commonly reach flowers to eat floral secretions. In addition, the leafcutter ants cause damage to their leaves by chewing and leaving holes behind.
Some species consume honeydew to fulfill their nutritional requirements, while a few pick seeds.
Why do ants attack Hibiscus Plant?
Some herbivorous species of ants attack plants to get their food as they suck sap from the stem or enjoy floral nectar by targeting nectaries within or outside the flower.
Accordingly, they can be responsible for causing damage to the plant to some extent by reaching its delicate nectaries and chewing the petals or leaves.
In the same way, these insects can attack hibiscus to consume sweet secretions produced by glands or nectaries that are a rich source of sugar.
The sweet smell of nectar attracts these tiny insects with a powerful sense of smell when the floral bud opens and the flower blooms.
In addition, they are not directly involved in causing harm to the plant but are somehow responsible for the damage by mutually associating with aphids.
The aphids are usually found on plants as they feed on sap and suck the juice from leaves, stems, and other parts.
Moreover, the honeydew secretions on the plant surface can attract sooty mold to grow. This fungal growth leads to the formation of black spots on the leaves responsible for cosmetic damage.
Furthermore, they eat insects that are beneficial due to their involvement in pollination. Ants can kill beneficial insect populations to protect the aphids or other honeydew-producing insects.
This way, these pests can grow in an uncontrollable manner and affect the growth and appearance of the plant by leaving black spots or holes in the leaves.
What happens when ants attack the Hibiscus plant?
Ants can cause significant damage to the hibiscus after an attack on different regions of the plant, including leaves, stems, and flowers or floral buds.
They are indirectly involved in destroying its appearance and structure by allowing other harmful pests to grow without being killed by predators.
Moreover, it results in a reduction in plant vigor when harmful pests multiply in an uncontrollable manner and feed on the internal sap flowing from roots to leaves.
They get nutrition by chewing the leaves, resulting in the formation of tiny holes and deformation of the leaves.
The fungus or sooty mold can grow on the sticky secretions of honeydew as it grows in humid places. This fungus causes cosmetic damage to the hibiscus, leaving black spots on the leaves.
In addition, it affects the opening of floral buds by attacking the flower when looking for food. These can cause damage to floral nectaries while sucking sweet nectar from the gland.
Furthermore, it causes significant damage to leaf structure because the sooty mold covers leaves and acts as a barrier to sunlight, affecting photosynthesis.
So, you have to take care of the food or moisture level as it can help plants develop natural resistance against these damaging pests through healthy nutrition.
How to remove ants from hibiscus plants?
There are many effective methods to keep these insects out of hibiscus without asking for any help from professional exterminators.
Moreover, you can use natural deterrents and toxic ingredients to kill and keep these ants at a distance.
Spray neem oil solution
Ants do not like neem oil as the strong odor of this oil extract affects their communication. It is a safe and effective method to deal with infestations.
You can prepare a solution by mixing almost 3 to 5ml neem oil in 1000ml water. It is better to add around 1.5 to 2ml of dishwashing soap to the prepared solution to make it more effective.
Spray the solution directly on the leaves and make sure that it reaches every possible surface area of the plant. It can help repel ants by disturbing their trails and smell receptors.
Make a boundary of boric acid
Boric acid is a toxic ingredient that can help kill the nuisance insects multiplying on the plants. Spread the boric acid powder and create a boundary around the plant at a distance of a few feet.
These tiny creatures cannot cross this 3 to 4 inches thick boundary of boric acid because it poses a threat to their lives. This powder can cause severe dehydration in insects even if they touch it.
It is not possible for ants to survive after ingesting a small amount of powder as this toxic substance leads to their death in a short time.
Regular watering of plants
Ants like to live in a humid or warm environment but do not prefer highly humid conditions. Accordingly, regularly watering the hibiscus plant can prevent these damaging insects.
Proper watering and availability of fertilizers improve the health and resistance of plants against harmful insects. I always use a garden hose to get rid of aphids and ants with pressurized water.
Use bait or insecticidal soap
Ant bait works well against insects because it can grab the attention of the ants crawling at a close distance. They are at risk of death after consuming the toxic boric acid baits.
These baits commonly contain sweet food mixed with toxic compounds to attract and kill insects. It takes time to remove the infestation from the garden, but it helps remove whole colonies.
These poisonous baits act on their digestive system and pose difficulties in food digestion, leading to death.
In the same way, you can prepare to spray the solution with insecticidal soaps that can suck moisture from their bodies or interferes with the skeleton.
Sprinkle cinnamon or cayenne powder
Sprinkling cinnamon or cayenne powder is a natural method of repelling insects because their strong and irritating odor makes them leave a spot.
Accordingly, you can sprinkle the powder on the plant surface close to their trails. These insects perceive the strong odors as threatening in their surrounding areas and run away quickly.
Encourage natural predators
It can be a strategic killing when you encourage predators of ants like beetles to come and reach the leaves. It helps kill these nuisance insects living on the hibiscus plants and promotes aphids.
Moreover, the absence of ants allows predators of aphids and other scale insects to eat the pests and protect the plant against damage.
Provide suitable habitats for growth for dragonflies and beetles to let them kill the tiny insects crawling on the leaves, stems, and flowers.