Many ant species attack plants because their primary source of nutrition is plant-based food like flowers, plant juices, fruits, and leaves.
Can Ants Pollinate Zucchini? Ants can pollinate zucchini without intending to transfer the pollens because they are not true pollinating insects. They can slightly increase the pollination rate but cause more damage to plants by promoting aphids’ growth. They eat seeds and nectar from flower buds and destroy the young buds.
Flower pollination by ants is known as myrmecophily, which indicates that these insects have some role in pollen’s transfer from male to female flowers.
However, they do not play any significant role in the pollination process because their bodies are not designed for this purpose, as foragers or workers lack wings.
Are ants good pollinators of zucchini?
Zucchini plants cannot pollinate by themselves and depend on small insects to transfer pollens because their male and female reproductive organs are present on separate flowers.
Commonly, bees are responsible for transferring pollens to female reproductive parts, but ants can also help in pollination by visiting the flowers.
Ants are not true pollinating insects, which means they do not transfer pollens intentionally. However, they reach the floral parts of plants in search of sweet nectar to consume it.
Moreover, the blooming flowers can grab the attention of these sugar-loving insects because they like to eat sweet floral secretions from young buds.
Honeydew is the primary source of nutrition for these insects because most of the ants’ species associate with aphids and eat their excretions.
These tiny insects can also reach the zucchini plant if there is an aphid infestation because they are mutually associated with each other for honeydew.
The pollens can accidentally attach to their bodies when they reach floral nectaries or other parts of the plant and are also left accidentally on other flowers when they move to the next plant.
Therefore, you cannot consider ants good pollinators because they are not intentionally involved in the transferring process and increase the overall rate slightly.
How do ants pollinate zucchini?
Pollen grains are small, lightweight, and sticky by nature which are present in flowers or particularly within anthers. These sticky particles can attach to their bodies during visits.
These pollens can remain attached to their bodies when they leave flowers after sucking nectar. Sometimes, these insects take them to new plants without intending to play a role in pollination.
Accordingly, they can transfer pollens from one flower to another when moving to suck their nectar. They suck the juice from buds to get energy and leave pollens on the male flower by chance.
Queens are not involved in this process because they remain inside the nest, while workers contribute to it, but their efficiency is not good as they lack wings.
They cannot fly to reach another flower and walk on the ground to reach the other plant, which can lead to detaching of pollens from their bodies, reducing the rate of pollination.
In addition, workers keep cleaning their bodies with saliva to remove debris from exoskeletons, antennae, legs, and heads. They can remove pollens during cleaning by considering them debris.
So, they can transfer pollens by carrying these sticky particles on their bodies that can sometimes fall on the ground when they are crawling fast.
Are ants harmful to the Zucchini plant?
Ants can cause direct or indirect harm to zucchini plants because they feed on floral nectaries and destroy young floral buds while sucking sweet juice.
In addition, seeds are part of their diet, so they attack nutritious seeds and take a few seeds back to their nests. They prefer to store seeds for winter as they can remain viable for a long.
They can cause indirect damage to plants by allowing aphids to grow on the plant and protecting them from predators. Aphids grow in an uncontrollable manner without any risk of predator attacks.
An increased population of aphids causes damage to the plant because these plant pests suck sap from stems and leaves for their nutrition.
Plants can become deficient in nutrients as the sap cannot reach the leaves when they suck it from the stem, which leads to compromised growth.
The Zucchini plant becomes more prone to diseases due to poor growth and loses immunity against pathogenic microbes. Some chewing ants can also create holes in the leaves.
Aphids release honeydew secretions on the stem, and these sticky and sweet secretions allow black mold to grow on its surface. It leads to the formation of black patches of mold growth.
Accordingly, they can cause harm to the appearance of the plant, as the presence of holes in the leaves and black patches on the stem can affect its look.
How do you keep ants away from Zucchini plants?
It is essential to keep ants away from zucchini plants because they can cause harm to the leaf structure, flower buds, and even fruits.
You have to find an attractant that grabs the attention of these tiny insects toward plants. They probably get attracted to aphid’s honeydew primarily, so you have to deal with aphids first.
Wash the plant surface using a garden hose to remove the aphids on the stems, leaves, and flowers. It can help reduce the aphid population and chances of ant attacks to a maximum extent.
Moreover, you can use some natural repellents to keep these pests away, as they do not like the strong scent of spices, lemon, and mint.
Accordingly, spraying pepper or cinnamon powder around the plant periphery will help build a barrier around the plant as they cannot cross this barrier.
In the same way, you can also use chalk to deter these insects because a 2 to 3-inch thick boundary of chalk restricts them from crossing the line.
Grow lemon and mint plants close to zucchini as their strong aroma irritates these tiny insects, and they do not dare to get closer to the plant.
Furthermore, homemade baits are also effective for the ant population when you use toxic substances like boric acid to kill insects by mixing them with sugar to improve the taste of insects.
This bait gives long-lasting results because it can efficiently wipe out whole colonies by killing queens. So, you can try all these natural methods before using chemical pesticides to kill them.
What type of ants can pollinate Zucchini?
A few species of ants that commonly visit zucchini plants are responsible for the unintentional pollination of the plant but do not play any significant role in it.
The herbivorous species or sugar-loving insects usually reach the plant to feed on nectar or honeydew. There is a possibility that they carry pollens on their bodies during feeding.
Fire ants usually feed on floral buds and reach the zucchini plant so they can become unintentional pollinators.
In addition, the argentine ants also feed on honeydew or aphid secretions and reach the plant for such nutritional food. Pavement ants also feed on plant juices or honeydew and attack zucchini.
Furthermore, large yellow, carpenter, crazy, and acrobat ants helps to pollinate zucchini because they also feed on these sweet secretions and reach plants for food.