When you cultivate cannabis, a common issue you might experience is garden pests. Some of these bugs are found in household plants, while others target marijuana crops specifically. So, are ants attracted to weed?
Below we discuss the relationship between ants and cannabis. We highlight if the pests are harmful to the plants, the signs of an infestation, how to get rid of them, and preventative measures you can take.
Let’s get started by answering the burning question: are ants attracted to weed?
Are ants attracted to weed?
Does weed attract ants? The answer is complex. In any garden ecosystem, ants play a valuable role. They aerate the soil and assist with decomposing dead insects. They become a problem when they infest and build mounds among your plants.
Why are ants attracted to weed? Ants in your cannabis usually occurs in conjunction with an aphid or whitefly infestation. These insects ingest plant sap from the leaves and secrete a sugary byproduct known as honeydew. The scent of honeydew attracts the ants, and an infestation begins.
Ant damage to plants during the initial stage is minimal. They protect the aphids from predators like ladybugs. These mites then flourish and secrete enough honeydew to make it viable for the ants to begin building mounds.
The relationship between these two pests is similar to ranching, where the ants provide protection to aphids and also consume some of them for food. So while weed doesn’t attract ants directly, their relationships with other bugs lure them to your crops.
Do ants harm plants?
Are ants attracted to weed? Do they harm your plants? Aside from the relationship that allows aphids to feed on the fluid of your weed, ants can be harmful to your crops in other ways.
- They make nests in the medium
- Ants damage the root system
- They affect bud production and quality
Do ants eat plant roots?
Ants don’t typically eat plant roots, and the damage they cause is less direct. How do ants hurt plants, then? When these critters build their mounds, it disrupts the soil and negatively impacts how your weed plants absorb water and nutrients.
The consistent tunneling weakens the root system. An ant problem near the roots of your cannabis can also be a sign of other cultivation issues like dry soil or low humus.
Will ants kill my plants?
There are several species of ant, and most won’t kill your plant immediately. Still, the constant tunneling and nesting damage the roots, meaning nutrient absorption is compromised, affecting bud production and quality. It’s best to keep ants off plants whenever possible.
Species like leaf cutter ants damage your crops even more severely.
Signs of an ant infestation on your cannabis crop
You now understand the severity of ant damage to plants. You must ensure you detect an infestation as soon as possible and take swift action to solve the issue. Fortunately, several signs indicate a potential problem. These include:
- Noticing many ants in your grow area
- The presence of earthy mounds
- Pale, drooping plants
- An aphid infestation
- Mealybug infestation
- Whitefly infestation
Noticing many ants in your grow area
Ants are an important part of any garden ecosystem and noticing one or two near or on your cannabis crops usually isn’t serious. If you see a swarm of these critters, it’s usually a cause for concern.
Many ants in a particular area also indicate that something in the environment is off balance. This is the easiest way to determine an infestation, but locating the nest to eliminate them and minimizing the ant damage to plants is challenging.
The presence of earthy mounds
When you cultivate cannabis, the soil is typically loose and flat. If you spot random mounds or anthills, you can be sure that you’ve got a colony of ants residing among your crops.
This also means that there’s tunneling occurring, which compromises the quality of your grow medium. The nutrients are less likely to be absorbed properly.
The only benefit is that you now have access to the source of the problem. You can see exactly where to take action once you know how to get rid of ants in your plants.
Pale, drooping plants
As a direct result of the poorer nutrient absorption rate, your weed plants start displaying physical changes. The color lightens, and leaves become yellow. Some marijuana crops start drooping because of dehydration.
This downward spiral lowers the weed’s resistance against pathogens, and it becomes more susceptible to diseases. This explanation provides a holistic answer to the question: Will ants kill my plants?
An aphid infestation
The known phenomenon of aphid ranching can eventually kill your cannabis as these mites can birth up to 12 live offspring each daily. If you notice an aphid infestation, an ant problem isn’t usually far behind.
Mealybugs feed on the aerial part of the plant, but some consume extracts from the roots. By extracting the sap of the crop, they dehydrate and weaken it. Mealybugs also secrete the honeydew byproduct and subsequently have a symbiotic relationship with ants.
If you notice these critters on your weed, take measures early as it’ll help keep ants off plants.
Whiteflies and ants have a ranching relationship. The ant infestation encourages whitefly presence. These insects steal essential nutrients from the underside of your cannabis plant leaves.
They breed at an exponential rate, laying up to 400 eggs that can hatch in a week. Large populations quickly result in your leaves turning yellow and dying.
The honeydew from whiteflies is another hazard. It promotes the growth of black sooty mold, which negatively impacts photosynthesis. By protecting these common pests, the ant damage to plants is extreme.
How to keep ants out of plants
If you’ve got a problem, you may be wondering how to remove ants from plants. There are natural ways and chemical methods you can employ. It’s best to try healthy options for your crops and garden ecosystem before using hazardous products.
How to stop ants eating my plants
When ants eat the leaves, crops can’t process sunlight and photosynthesize properly. This slows down bud production and weakens the plant. You can stop ants from eating your cannabis with ordinary household items that either repel or kill them.
How to protect seeds from ants
If you want to know how to protect seeds from ants, you need to understand what attracts them in the first place. If there are other cannabis pests present, an ant infestation is inevitable.
The first step you need to take is to get rid of unwanted insects and employ preventative measures. Sprinkling a natural deterrent around your plants should keep your seeds safe.
Natural solutions for ants on weed plants
Many growers are cautious about using harmful pesticides and chemicals on their cannabis plants. Experienced cultivators often have extensive methods describing natural ways on how to get rid of ants in your plants.
Some natural methods include:
- Ground coffee
- Cayenne pepper
- Neem oil
- Soap solution
Does neem oil work on ants?
Neem oil is an essential organic product for cannabis growers. They extract it from the neem tree, and horticulturalists have used it for centuries. It also plays a key role in ethnomedicine.
This extract has insecticide compounds that can be used both as a preventative product or to remove an existing infestation. Does neem oil work on ants? Absolutely.
The benefit of choosing this organic option is that it targets several unwanted insects, including:
- Spider mites
- Fungus gnats
The substance is unharmful to beneficial creatures like bees, ladybugs, and earthworms.
We’ve discussed most aspects regarding ant damage to plants, but some questions may still be unanswered. Below we discuss a few common ones and provide detailed information on each.
What bugs eat weed plants?
Cannabis is susceptible to several pests. Most suck the sap and drain it from nutrients. Growers commonly have issues with bugs like:
- Leaf miners
- Spider mites
- Cabbage loopers
- Broad mites
- Slugs and snails
What is eating my weed plant’s leaves?
Many insects target the leaves of cannabis crops. Aside from ants causing damage to plants, other common culprits include:
- Spider mites
What is the best homemade ant killer?
Many homemade remedies can get rid of ants. Most repel them. Options like cornmeal cause them to die of indigestion, while neem oil causes serious respiratory issues.
You can also use a homemade insecticidal soap that stuns or kills the ants. Each method is effective, and the best option for how to get rid of ants in your plants depends on the user.
Does weed attract ants? Not directly, but other pests catalyze an ant infestation. The relationship these bugs have with other critters can be catastrophic for your cannabis crops.
There are plenty of options for removing insects from your plants, and many are natural. You can also use some of these to protect your precious buds and avoid an ant problem.
Now that you’re aware of the dangers an ant infestation can cause, why not start a cannabis crop, implementing preventative measures immediately. Visit the Homegrown Cannabis Co. seed store today and get growing.
About the author: Derek LaRose
Also known as Kronic from The Cannabis Kronicles, Derek LaRose is a young ambitious cultivator and a staple educator for indoor cultivation.