Pest Identification

Learn More About the Pests Invading Your Home

Ants In My Plants

Long before humans walked the earth, ants looked to plants for their daily survival. Plants have provided ants with food, moisture, and shelter since the dinosaur age. But ants don’t invade your houseplants to eat the foliage or pollinate the flowers; they come seeking sweets produced by plant-eating pests like aphids, mealy bugs, and whiteflies.

When aphids and other insects colonize your favorite houseplant, they excrete a sticky, sweet substance called honeydew. While that’s a nice sounding term for aphid poo, honeydew is manna from heaven for sweet-eating ants. In fact, ants “farm” aphids, carrying them from plant to plant to produce honeydew for them.

So in order to get rid of the ants, you need to get your houseplants healthy. Fortunately, honeydew-producing insects can be easily banished using environmentally friendly products such as neem oil or insecticidal soap. Neem oil is vegetable oil pressed from fruits and seeds of the neem plant. The nontoxic stuff repels a wide variety of insects which colonize gardens and houseplants including mealy bugs, aphids, caterpillars, locusts, and snails. Neem oil also does not harm beneficial insects such as butterflies, lady bugs, and honeybees. How great is that?

Insecticidal soap (also called horticultural soap) is derived from various plant oils. The soap, which is available at garden stores, doesn’t leave a nasty residue behind - and it’s nontoxic to birds, animals, and beneficial insects.

To rid houseplants of honeydew producers, first take the plants outdoors. Spray them thoroughly with neem oil or insecticidal soap. Make sure to drench the undersides of leaves where the pests hide and lay their eggs. Sometimes it takes several treatments to get the problem under control.