Woke up this morning to check on my new garden and these guys where literally carpeting the surrounding rock bank that i used to help keep the soil from washing away, and they are getting on plants and eating them up. I do not think they are fire ants because i dont see any mounds, and they seem to be coming out from in between the rocks. Notice how they pile up on top of each other in clumps in the second photo.
Have you had a lot of rain? If so, the ants are coming to the surface because their home has probably been flooded.
The plant in your photo has lots of aphids. The ants are protecting the aphids, they are not eating your plant. The aphids are sucking the juices from your plant, and the ants are collecting the honeydew that the aphids excrete.
If you get rid of the aphids, the ants will no longer have a food source.
In other words, you have an aphid problem, not an ant problem.
there were no aphids on my plants, and although the ants are gone now, i actually watched them bite chunks out of my plants. If you are referring to the reddish brown colored grains on the leaves, that is powdered cayenne pepper (to deter any deer around here from munching on it--obviously the ants liked spicy foods ;) lol), i noticed one day they would be on my zucchini and squash, the next day they swapped over to my pepper plant, i placed ant killer all along in the rock bank and now i dont see any more. Just was curious about exactly what types of ants they were :)
now i never knew that about the pepper, otherwise i wouldn't have sprinkled it on my plants, i do have a big fat bell pepper on that plant now that is starting to show color, so i am quite thankful for that
Deer are a major pest around these parts also, i have my entire veggie garden fenced in, also the dog likes to have her potty breaks around it, so the smell of her urine also deters them from that area i think, since i have not actually seen them in that part of the yard since getting her two years ago