If you have spotted aphids on your plants, you might also have seen some ants hanging about nearby and wondered if this is a good thing, are the ants eating the blackfly?
So, Are The Ants Eating Blackfly?
No, the ants are actually helping the blackfly and might have actually put them there themselves.
Some species of ants farm aphids. They protect them from predators, make sure they stay in one place and can even take them back to their colony to protect them over winter.
In return, the ants eat the honeydew secreted by aphids after they have fed on your plants.
So the ants are not a good thing at all but it is no surprise you have found them near the blackly. This is very common, and there is a good chance that it was the ants that actually brought the aphids to your plants.
What Do You Do?
I think the easiest solution is to go after the aphids, which will, in turn, hurt the ants and theoretically reduce their numbers too.
Ants are really tricky to get rid of, and to be honest, whenever I have found them I have never been able to get rid of them completely. That is why I just go after the aphids now.
You can try to disturb the ants and keep them on their toes.
They don’t like being disturbed and also don’t like being wet, so pouring water on them and trying to disturb them as much as possible can help to hinder them, but it isn’t really going to get rid of them unless you can find and kill the queen.
Pouring boiling water on their nest, if you can find it, is the old-school way of dealing with ants, but most times, it does little apart from killing a small number of ants.
The nests are just too complex, and the boiling water doesn’t find its way to the queen.
Getting Rid Of Aphids
Put some gloves on, because this will get messy, and run the infested stem between your thumb and forefinger, squashing the aphids as you go.
A bucket of soapy water next to you to wash the bug juice off your gloves is a good idea as you squish. It is messy and time-consuming but because 99% of the aphids will be flightless you can do some serious damage to their numbers.
If, however, you don’t get them all they will soon be back so this is not a one-time and done job.
Hose Them Off
One easy method of trying to keep aphids off your treasured flowers is to spray them off with a high-powered hose.
This should knock the aphids off and also kill a few at the same time. This is a fairly easy method and doesn’t harm the plant at all as long as it is established enough – don’t do this with young plants!
Crucially though it won’t kill all of the aphids so it is more of a method to try and minimise the damage rather than get rid of the aphids altogether.
Washing Up Liquid Spray
This is one of those home remedies that seem to get recommended for every problem but it can work on aphids.
The idea behind this is that you spray a diluted mix of washing-up liquid onto your aphids. The sticky spray makes it so the aphids can’t breathe and they therefore die.
It does work, but it is nowhere near as effective as commercial sprays.
One issue with this method is that it can cause burn-like damage to the leaves of your plants so you do need to be careful.
Just because it is not a pesticide doesn’t mean you can go spray crazy. Rinsing the plant with a follow-up water spray can really help here.
This is a naturally created oil, that works as an insecticide and can work well against aphids.
I actually bought some to help get rid of flea beetle but I also used it on aphids on my Dahlias and they are not there anymore.
I also squished them and hosed them off, so it was a combination of all three methods that worked for me.
There are lots of different bug sprays that will kill aphids, some organic, some not. I always advise trying to use organic methods where possible but I can understand why you may want to try and use a proper pesticide on lupin aphids.
but I will say, give the organic methods ago before resorting to pesticides if the other options don’t work.
- Same day, spray and eat
- Contact insecticide for ornamental plants, fruit and vegetables
- 100% natural active ingredient
- Controls greenfly, blackfly, whitefly, scale insects, mealybugs, red spider mites and other mites
- For use both indoors and outdoors all year round
While made for fruit and veg this spray can work just as well on flowers.
The main active ingredient in this spray is rapeseed oil which is where the made-from-natural ingredients claim comes from. This spray should be much better for the environment and other animals than a pesticide spray.
If you want to go the whole hog and get a heavy-duty bug spray then I recommend bug clear ultra, made by the same people as the spray above but this is the full pesticide version.
Kills all major insect pests, including whitefly, greenfly, black fly, red spider mite, caterpillars and lily beetle, scale insects and mealy bugs For use on flowers, fruit and vegetables.
And finally, we have my favourite method, introducing ladybirds to your garden or allotment. Ladybirds are natural aphid predators.
You can buy them in their larvae form and then introduce them to your garden where they will hunt and eat aphids.
There is one downside to this method with lupin aphids in that some people say they won’t eat lupin aphids as they are too big for them! I have not noticed this myself, but it is something to be aware of!
These native British Adalia Bipunctata ladybird larvae have a huge appetite for soft -bodied garden pests such as aphids (greenfly and blackfly), spider mite, scale, mealy-bug etc.