End of 12, here is a resource for Florida. There are links to read about several insect pests that attack our legumes here. I'm sure you have other varieties, but perhaps you'll notice a description for a cousin chomping away there in the Congo.
It's interesting that it's only the legumes being consumed. Is it very wet/moist where you are? Legumes are very sensitive to moisture, seeds rot pretty easily if the soil stays too moist after watering. Ants aren't ~usually~ known for directly eating seeds, and if they are, they tend to not be that picky about what kinds they eat. I don't know about African ants, but that's my experience.
I guess I'm wondering if the ants aren't feeding on something else under the soil-other insects, fungi, etc. and it's those things that are damaging your legume seeds? I have centipedes in my garden beds and some years they're very bad. This year they ate about 25% of my bean seeds before they even got going, and they're also heck on potatoes.
If you can keep your soil worked, perhaps they'll move on? I've found that if I just keep disturbing their nests, eventually they leave or die off. I guess it's a battle of annoying them more than they annoy me!
Good luck with whatever you find out about what's causing the problems. Let us know!
When you say "eaten" - could it also be an animal and not bugs? I have voles and rabbits that love to devour everything. Before I fenced in the raised beds, the rabbits ate all my legumes. I started planted pole beans also.
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Hi, thank you both for these ideas. No, I'm not absolutely sure about what damage the ants are causing. If they are eating only the bugs that are eating the plants, then maybe I should KEEP the ants. But they are the only insects that I see in large numbers and the leaves are all badly, badly eaten.....but just the legume leaves, not the squash or tomato leaves.
I'll try corn meal....also could try couscous, which definitely swells, but it's also very expensive here...so maybe just a little.
The sweet baits are a good idea, too.
Thank you both very much for your ideas!
We planted 4 raised beds about 12 feet by 3 feet with double rows of legume seed.....and we got maybe 10 pods. Crazy effort for little production. About 1/8 of the vines dried up from lack of rain. The remainder of the leaves were eaten away.
Are you sure ants are eating your legumes? I have ants in some containers and a raised bed and my pole beans in the same container are fine. My ants here in the Eastern U.S. are tiny and are in my soil not in hills. They do sting however even though they aren't fire ants. I've tried planting rue and pouring boiling water with no luck. Although they carry off some seeds, I've come to the conclusion that they aren't doing a lot of harm and do fluff up the soil so now I plant extra seeds and wear gloves when planting where they are. If they increase to many more beds I'll try the grits.
So, is corn meal available there? It might work the same as the instant grits. I'm not sure what they do to make the grits "instant" but they definitely start out as ground corn. If not, then you need to find something you can grind that swells to double size when wet, that the ants would consider to be food.
Are they coming to your garden for leaves, nectar, seeds, protein, or decomposition? I always conclude they are farming the aphids and want the sweet fluid they produce. If that is the case, then creating sweet baits outside your beds might help.
I have found that turning my three foot diameter (and tall) compost pile AT LEAST once a week hurries it along. I also can't let it dry out. We have finally hit our rainy season with rain at least twice a week. So the dampness combined with the high summer temperatures make quick work of my compost.
And yes, That is me "playing at the harp." I'm working to expand my repertoire. I don't like the practice anymore now than when I was a teenager. But I am better at recognizing what needs more attention now.
Hi, Sue, Thank you so much for writing about what to do for ants. Yes, I have the raised beds. I am living in the D.R.Congo where we have to make all parts of compost, so it's slow going. We also do not have access to grits, but I'll file that idea away for when I'm back in the States
It seems like I've read something, too, about pouring boiling water on the ants. Poor things! Maybe this is done just before planting.?.
For other types of bugs (small black bugs are eating LOTS of the leaves) I understand that spraying soapy water on them helps.
Is that you playing the harp? How wonderful! It's always been a dream of mine. At my mother's senior center a harpest would often come to play old, familiar songs, and she always left folks in such a peaceful, thankful state.
my ant remedy: sprinkle dry quick grits (not instant) around ant hills when you see activity. I'm told he ants carry to queen who eats and then swells up. Don't know if this is the science, but it seems to work, and if they don't carry it off, it will decompose and help your poor soil.
Also, have you looked into the square foot gardening method? You make a mix of coarse vermiculite, peat, and blended compost, which goes into raised beds. Then you plant close together, never tilling, never stepping on the soil mix. You can even put a plywood bottom on the raised bed frame to keep out weeds. So you basically fix soil in a spot 4 X 4 ON TOP of your poor soil.
Lots of info available free on the web. The latest book is available in print or for Kindle.
We are only just beginning to work on our bad soil ---by beginning a compost and by planting only legumes (to feed back nitrogen into the soil). In the meantime, our soil is a bit sandy and dry and we have LOTS of ants who seem to be eating A LOT of our legume plants. Does anyone have a "cure" for getting rid of ants? Thanks-
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