You probably have to deal with ants on sunflowers if there is an infestation at your home because beautiful flowers and odor can attract them.
Do Ants Eat Sunflowers? Ants do not eat sunflowers, but they get attracted to beautiful colored petals or stems and build their nest within the roots to get shelter and food from the roots. They obtain nectar and honeydew from aphids and collect seeds. You can protect these plants using double-sided tape, petroleum jelly, garlic powder, and spraying a soapy solution.
It is better to keep insects away from sunflower plants as they can destroy stems, leaves, and roots and even steal seeds from the plant to get proteins.
Why do ants attack sunflowers?
Ants can attack sunflower plants for their attractive color as bright-colored petals, and the overpowering aroma of the flowers can allure their receptors and force them to reach there.
These insects get attracted to the colors like yellow and green; that’s why the bright yellow blooms on the plant can be the reason for their presence.
Moreover, aphids are commonly present on these plants and hide under the leaves, which can cause severe damage to the crop after wilting and reduce the yield.
Ants usually come after aphids as they are symbiotically associated with each other for food and protection. They prefer to obtain honeydew from aphids and protect them against predators.
Sweet secretions or honeydew provide sufficient nutrients to the insects, allowing them to grow well and remain active. In addition, they can also obtain sap from the stem of the plant.
They prefer liquid secretions to consume nutrients as it is easier to eat and digest the liquid food than solid particles that need to be broken down before consumption.
The stem region contains plant sap and allows the transfer of nutrients from roots to the leaves, so these insects bite or inject their stinger into the stem to suck the sap.
Similarly, the seeds are a good source of proteins and oils that can fulfill their protein and fat requirements. They are also suitable for storage as ants attack plants to carry seeds back to the nest.
Furthermore, these insects prefer to live at a close distance from roots as this region is mostly moist and loaded with nutrients because the plant is getting nutrients from the soil through roots.
So, they can reach sunflower plants for warmth, moisture, and nutrients and sometimes close their nest to their roots.
How do ants reach sunflowers?
Ants are crawling insects that can reach the top region of the plant by climbing vertical surfaces like a stem. They can easily climb rough and thin surfaces without falling down.
Their sticky feet allow them to maintain a good hold of the stem and climb the surface. In addition, the suction pads secrete a sticky material, filling the air gap between the feet and stem surface.
Moreover, they have hooked claws that can help avoid falling and allows them to reach higher. In addition, they do not die even after falling due to their muscular and lighter bodies.
So they can make new efforts to reach the plant even if they fall on the ground. These hardworking insects do not lose energy or hope and climb until they reach seeds and stems.
Accordingly, they move from ground to stem and cross the vertical barrier to reach the aromatic flowers and seeds loaded with nutrients.
Sometimes, they begin to live close to aphids because they get enough food in the form of honeydew and return to the underground nest to feed their colony.
What type of ants eat sunflowers?
You can find herbivorous species of ants attacking the sunflower plants as they get attracted to the stem sap and seeds of the plant.
Most commonly, fire ants are seen near the sunflower plant as they reach it in search of nectar and honeydew secreted by aphids and seeds.
Argentine and carpenter ants species are omnivores relying on animal and plant-based food that can approach these plants in search of seeds to get proteins.
Moreover, there are a few herder species known for farming aphids growing on the plant while remaining hidden under the folded leaves.
How to get rid of ants on sunflower plant?
There are many ways to secure the sunflower plant from the attack of ants and avoid the destructive effect of insects on crop yield.
Double-sided duct tape is considered a suitable option for protecting the plant from damage by these agricultural pests. Sometimes, they damage plants indirectly by protecting aphids.
Aphids are destructive crop pests responsible for quick wilting, so it is essential to control insect populations to get rid of aphids.
Accordingly, create a sticky barrier for these tiny insects by covering the stem surface with tape and restricting their climbing behavior. As a result, their tiny feet cannot cross it and get stuck to it.
Garlic is widely used as a repellent of ants as its pungent and unpleasant aroma can keep them away from your plant. It can help ensure plants’ safety from these crawling creatures’ attacks.
It can irritate the smell receptors of these insects; that’s why they hate garlic. You can put the cloves close to the plant base or spread the powder to create a boundary.
In addition, you can use the powder for effective results if you do not dislike its odor, as some people feel uncomfortable with its strong smell due to the presence of sulfur compounds.
You can prepare a soapy solution against the infestation of insects on the sunflower plant. Mix 2 to 3 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in 2 to 3 cups of water and stir it well.
Pour the prepared soapy solution into a spray bottle and shake it properly to make a foamy solution. Keep a bottle close to the leaves and spray it for a second in hidden areas.
It is better to spray directly on the bodies of insects and flush them off the plant surface. You have to follow the same practice for a week or two because they try to re-approach it.
Try to make the surface slippery by using vaseline for the tiny creatures and create difficulty for them to climb on the stem. They can only crawl over the stem when it is rough to support their feet.
Apply a thick coat of petroleum jelly on the surface of the stem and make it slippery or uncomfortable for the insects. As a result, their bodies cannot maintain balance and fall to the ground.
Keep an eye on the stem as it dries out quickly when used outdoors. You can apply it regularly on the base or different regions of the plant to avoid these damaging pests.
Wash the plant
You can wash the plant surface with tap water using a garden hose, as targeting insects with pressurized water help remove them from hidden areas like folded leaves.
They can fall off the surface when you target their bodies with a hose and make them drown. The dead insects can attract more fellows, so you have to keep a check on the infestations.
Accordingly, prepare your mind for the possible risks associated with the flooding of insects.
It can be a temporary solution, but you have to find a permanent solution to the problem to deal with a large population.
Make contact with pest control companies to get rid of the insects long-term, as you do not have to wash them off regularly after chemical control.