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Strawberries are one of the most popular plants in Germany and are a classic in the garden. However, the joy of the Fragaria is quickly spoiled if there is an ant infestation. Ants like to undercut strawberry plants, especially if aphids have colonized them. Ants themselves do not eat the plants and even the fruits are rarely eaten. If you are struggling with the insects, there are some home remedies to combat them.

ant infestation

An ant infestation would not in itself be a problem for the strawberry plants, since the insects within the Hymenoptera order are only rarely interested in the fruit or the plant. However, these like to place their ant nest directly under the plants and undermine them. Over time, this leads to a loss of substrate, leaving the roots exposed, which can further cause the following problems:

  • water loss
  • loss of nutrients
  • Pest and disease resistance deteriorates
  • Strawberry plant cannot find a footing in the ground

In the long run, the infestation by the ants can have a negative effect on the vitality and, above all, the harvest yield of the strawberries. Since Fragaria are generally quite sensitive plants that require a lot of care, an ant nest can destroy an entire crop or the entire bed in the long run. Home remedies are a good way to stop the plague. However, the ants are not the actual cause of this problem. For this reason, you need approaches that help against the real problem.

root cause

Ants settle in most cases when aphids are nearby. Especially with a strawberry plant, which would otherwise be of little interest to the animals, an aphid infestation ensures that a colony develops quickly. The animals take care of the aphids and thereby expand their colony according to the number of plants infested by the aphids. Especially in an entire strawberry bed, the spread of lice can cause the ant infestation to get out of hand. As soon as you become aware of an ant colony, you should examine your strawberry specimens for an aphid infestation. The following problems arise from the aphid infestation:

  • Mushrooms settle
  • general vitality deteriorates

As soon as you notice the aphids, you need to apply remedies against the ant colony and their flocks of aphids. However, it can also happen that the colony feasts on the already ripe fruit when no other food sources are available. In this case you must ensure that the insects no longer have access to the plant, for which there are also solutions. Formicidae aren't really a pest when it comes to your garden, however it's not ideal if you have to fight the insects for your aromatic strawberries.

tip: Another reason for infestation by the insects can be fruit trees near which the strawberries were planted. Fruit trees attract colonies of ants, and falling fruit in particular is a favorite food for the insects, which makes creating a nest under the strawberry plants particularly interesting.

Home remedies for ants

If you notice an ant infestation, you should do something against the insects. Since ants can undercut and eat your strawberries at a rapid rate, appropriate measures are necessary, especially when the infestation is intense. You can use classic means that spoil the ants' colony building on your strawberry plants and these evict gently. You don't have to immediately destroy the animals with poisonous bait cans or boiling water, as they can even be very useful in the garden. In addition, you can use the methods below to ensure that your strawberries are still edible and not contaminated after the procedure.

tip: If you suffer from slug infestation in your garden, don't be surprised at the possible accumulation of Formicidae on your strawberries. If snails have got their hands on these, they are easy game for the insects, especially when it comes to species that like to eat fruit.

strengthen earth

To save your strawberry plants from nutrient and water loss, you should always trample the earth around them. The animals don't really feel disturbed by this and it is even possible to live together as long as the animals do not eat the fruits of your harvest. As soon as you have consolidated the soil with sturdy shoes, pour it in vigorously. The more moisture available to the strawberries, the better. In addition, larger amounts of water work effectively against the further expansion of the ant colony. However, avoid waterlogging, as rotting strawberries encourage colonization.

vegetable manure

Water your specimens with plant manure. Ants hate plant manure and the products made from two specific plants in particular have proven to be particularly effective:

  • Nettles (bot. Urtica)
  • Lavender (bot. Lavandula)

A nettle manure is usually more recommended, as the plants are easier to harvest in large quantities. In addition, the ingredients have a somewhat more aggressive effect on insects than lavender manure. When administering the finished liquid manure, make sure to add ten liters of water per one liter of liquid manure dilute, otherwise it will damage the strawberries. Never water with manure when the sun is shining, otherwise the plant will burn.

Redirect

Many insects can be disturbed by certain materials. Ants are the following:

  • chalk or garden lime
  • talc
  • kieselguhr

They all have the property that the insects do not dare to approach them and even give them a wide berth. You can take advantage of that. Obtain a sufficient amount of the powder and use it to draw a circle around your strawberry plants. You should definitely interrupt the ant trail with the barricade, as this will prevent the insects from taking up the path again. Garden lime has proven to be particularly effective. The only drawback of this method is the fact that you have to repeat this procedure after a rainfall and after some time.

tip: An alternative to chalk and lime, talc, or diatomaceous earth is to use a heavy-duty tape such as duct tape. With this you will cut the road and prevent workers from returning to the nest, which over time will cause the queen to move on due to lack of food.

relocate

An ant infestation can also be solved by resettlement. For this you only need a flower pot or a similar vessel:

  • Fill the pot with untreated wood shavings
  • Fix wood shavings
  • place upside down on the ant trail or nest entrance

Ideally, the animals will transport their eggs to the new home, as this presents ideal conditions for them. As soon as you realize that the insects are returning to the pot but not to your strawberry plants, carefully pick up the jar and find a new location about 30 meters away.

cinammon

Cinnamon is an instant solution to an ant infestation on your crops. The reason: the hard-working animals hate it sharp smell so much so that they even flee from their own nest. The ground cinnamon is used for this, because the aroma of cinnamon sticks is not strong enough. Just get some ground cinnamon and sprinkle some right in the entrance or in the visible tunnels the bugs make. Ideally, they should get out of the dust immediately. Since cinnamon is washed away when it rains, the spice must be redistributed after a rainfall. It doesn't matter what the quality of the cinnamon is.

herbs

Garlic (bot. Allium sativum), lavender and nasturtium (bot. Tropaeolum majus) work wonders against ant colonies and their aphids. The essential oils and other ingredients contained are avoided by the animals and should therefore be kept in close proximity to your strawberry plants. Spread garlic cloves directly between the strawberries. Nasturtium and lavender are planted as a fragrant barricade. Best of all, the garlic can also be planted with the Fragaria, as the plants make an effective mixed culture.

baking powder

Of all the solutions mentioned so far, only baking powder is deadly for the animals. Baking powder is used in the following way:

  • Spread baking soda along the ant trail or in the burrow
  • suitable time is sunny days
  • when it rains, the powder is washed away

Baking soda is eaten by the insects, resulting in their death. This inflates in the stomach and the animals explode in the truest sense of the word. If you don't want to do this to the ants, you should choose another solution.

Home remedies for aphids

As described above, insects visit your Fragaria most often when they are already infested with aphids. Even a small number of aphids can ensure that large numbers of ants gather to take care of them and thus get to the coveted honeydew. Aphid infestation can take place on even perfectly manicured strawberries and is in itself quite easy to contain. You can either wipe off the aphids, shower them off, or treat them with a spray:

  • simply wipe off by hand
  • put on gloves
  • repeat if necessary
  • rinse with clear water
  • Don't forget the underside of the leaves
  • repeat weekly
  • Make sprays from water and rapeseed oil
  • Mixing ratio: 70:30
  • spray all parts of the plant with it
  • but not in direct sunlight
  • otherwise the plants lose their protection against evaporation

The use of beneficial insects against the aphids is no longer possible as soon as ants are present. The reason: the insects protect the lice from the beneficial insects. Therefore, the use of the above-mentioned funds is recommended, otherwise you will spend money unnecessarily. Also, the garlic and nasturtium method above works just as well on the aphids as it does on the ant colony. They don't like the smell either.

tip: As an alternative to rapeseed oil, you can use biodegradable detergent together with water as a spray. Of course, you should only use this if the plant has not yet developed flowers, as this could have a negative effect on the development of the fruit.

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