Hard to believe how time has flown, but the16th DG annual photo contest has begun! Find the details here. Best wishes to all the entrants!!!

Theory on ants and aphids

Lake Elsinore, CA

This year has been the worst ever for aphids and ants on my pepper and okra plants.
I know the theory has always been that the aphids come to the plants, then the ants find them and trap them and they form their relationship that way.

My temps are in triple digits most of the time for about 3 months of summer, 112 for 2 weeks recently.

Previously, I saw aphids (even those trapped by ants) only in the nice moderate temps of springtime, 70's low 80's here. When it got hot, no more aphids. I'd treat with soapy water sometimes if they got too bad. Regardless, they weren't around for very long.

My question is this, is it possible that the ants are storing aphids inside their colonies and bringing them to the plants and depositing them on there? It almost seems like this would be the only way for an aphid to survive these temps. Maybe the older, juicier aphids can take the heat and live longer than an egg hatching in extremely hot temperatures? Or are there aphids that can thrive in this heat from larvae stage?

OK, I'm probably nuts, but just wondering if some evolution might be taking place that no one knows about yet.

Or maybe everyone suffers aphids all the time and I'm just ignorant, but I know around here, hot weather means no more aphids. That's when they leave and the spider mites come.

Lake Elsinore, CA


Sure enough, the ants do store the aphids and place them on the plants.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

I knew that the ants "harvested" aphid eggs to over-winter them....strange relationships in the bug world....here is a bit more info from UC Davis that includes some info about heat.


Decatur, GA(Zone 7b)

Thank you both for the informative links. I've also been noticing ants along with aphids but I had no idea they were linked in such an interesting way.

Lake Elsinore, CA

This is almost creepy the way these 2 bugs interact. I wonder what the ants feed their prisoners while they overwinter them. Must investigate more on this and thanks for the Davis link, very good one.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

The ants do not trap live aphids over winter. The ants carry aphid eggs into their mound over winter and carry the aphid eggs back out to the plants in the spring. You are most welcome for the link.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

The ants 'farm' the aphids, milk them, but never noticed them quitting because of the heat, I do know ants can start tearing into the okra fruits and blooms and harvest parts of these as well where we live, you find the ants up inside the pods.

Lake Elsinore, CA

Yes, and they're causing damage to my Asian long bean blooms, too. Plus the gophers decided to have a go at them at the same time (long bean roots). The ants were carrying aphids to beat the band today (to the beans). Grrrr

I'm beginning to think I need to chain up an anteater in my garden before these things destroy all of it. I gave the peppers a superprune because of the aphid/ant damage, the fruits were curling and stunted.

I still have time to start over, but this thing doesn't seem to be letting up, they're getting more plentiful.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.