Of ants and sweetcorn

sweetcorn seedlingsThey’re going out on the plot today. It’s a famous moment, because Sweetcorn Planting means the start of summer.

Not that it feels all that special this year. We’ve had summer for about a month already. It’s been warm, dry – endlessly dry – and distinctly un-British.

One of the many unwelcome side effects of the early drought and warmth has been an explosion of ants. I have light, dry soil (their favourite), and I’ve never seen so many. They’ve taken over my whole vegetable plot. Swarms of the little fuckers have burrowed under my cauliflower seedlings and are currently destroying the crop.

This is, naturally, somewhat frustrating. Anti-ant products (Ant-ant?) are obviously widely available, but I really hate puffing permethrin near my veg – or near anything, for that matter. So it looks as if the shallow-rooted veg are in for a torrid time this season.

10 Responses to “Of ants and sweetcorn”

  1. Kay @ Kays Cakes Says:

    I know exactly how you feel.
    We can’t move so much as a plant pot without a load of red ants spilling out of the bottom.
    They’re horrible and seem to get everywhere. I’ve taken to tucking my trousers into my socks now so they can’t get me…had to learn the hard way though 🙁

  2. Diana Says:

    I read somewhere that ant won’t cross turmeric powder or near tumeric plants.

  3. Mal Says:

    It’s as dry as the Sahara at noon isn’t it. You can buy “traps” which are enclosed. The ants go in, find the sweet (poisonous) bait, take it back to their nest (queen?)AND DIE. Only enough poison is used to do the job. The trap is removed by you once you are happy the job is done. So no taint to your vegetable patch. Soilman 5 Ants 0

  4. Beth Says:

    I had a horrid shock the other day… I opened up the dalek composter, for the first time in about a month, admittedly, to see not only more ants than I would have thought possible for such a small space but also what I thought were MAGGOTS *shudder*. Much googling later and I discovered these were in fact ant grubs. Nothing in the pile to attract maggots anyway.

    They aren’t hurting anyone in there, so will be left alone beyond just dampening the compost a little, but urgh!

  5. Tom Says:

    I don’t want to tempt fate, but on the plus side I have not seen a single slug this year – there have been holes in lettuce leaves here and there, but no horrible messy monstrosities that normaly appear. I assume that they cannot move/breed as quickly in dry weather?

  6. Matron Says:

    Yes, there certainly are a lot of ants about this year. I think they like to live somewhere dry. I enjoy disturbing them, digging them up and letting the robins eat all their eggs!

  7. mediaOrganic Says:

    How about we trade some of your hot dry weather for some the cold damp weather we’ve been coping with in New England?

    http://www.media-organic.com/garden-week-in-review-7

  8. Julie Says:

    I think I’d like to trade your ants for my wood bugs (AKA wood louse or pill bugs) which can totally consume a baby squash plant in two evenings or a bed of carrot seedlings in a day or two. And there are a thousand trillion of them.

  9. Simon Says:

    I suspect ants don’t like mirrors. If you put some mirrors on the ground pointing upwards, that will probably vex them a bit. They probably don’t like pale purple things either.

    If you can catch them you can feed the ants to your goldfish with them (the type of goldfish which you used to win at the fair in the old days, and lives in a glass bowl).

    I’m in England this week – huzzah!

  10. Tanya Walton Says:

    I too have noticed the huge amount of ants around….it’s always the same isn’t it…we get a bit of good weather and still something is bound to piss us off!!