En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - May 22, 2010

From: McAllen, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests
Title: Plants ants avoid from McAllen TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Which native plants do ANTS avoid (are there?)? We have a big ant problem here. Thanks!

ANSWER:

We are touched by the confidence in our correspondents that we can come up with native plants that repel deer, rabbits, dogs, cats, snakes and, now, ants. Deer and rabbits eat plants, and will eat just about anything that can't get away when times are hard and they are really hungry. Dogs and cats don't eat plants, normally, although puppies will mess with just about anything. The biggest problem from those animals is they often choose plants as a bathroom. Snakes and ants don't eat plants, but hang around them for shelter and a good place to pick up a bite to eat that is not a plant. 

Basically, ants are farmers, as you will learn in this University of California Integrated Pest Management Program Ants. This probably tells you more than you wanted to know about ants, but it does give good information, although not about plants that repel them. 

So, we moved on to this article from eHow Outdoor Plants That Repel Ants. Nice, but not native. Most of them are Meditteranean herbs. And, you know, there is nothing to keep an ant trail from moving over a few inches to go around a plant they don't wish to associate with.

Still searching, we found an article from Golden Harvest Organics Ant Controls, but it had no more information on plants.

Some time ago, we got some questions from people in pretty much the same part of the state that you are, inquiring about Cutter Ants. Here is our previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer Perennial Plants Resistant to Cutter Ants. If you have cutter ants, you may think they are eating the plant because they can denude a small tree virtually overnight. Actually, they are taking those leaves home to make fungus for everyone in the colony to eat. Yuck.

We think that our first reference probably has the best information for dealing with different kinds of ants. Although it is based on the problem in California, most of the ants they mention are also in Texas. You did not say if your problem was indoor or outdoor. Either way, you need to deal with what the ants are going for, and if you have Fire Ants, you already know they are going for bites of anybody that disturbs their chosen area of residence. We suggest you contact the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Office for Hidalgo County  to see if they have any insights on controlling the little beasties. 

 

More Pests Questions

Problems with Shumard Oaks and Crepe Myrtle in Cooke Co. TX
September 07, 2013 - I have a Shumard Oak Tree that has been in the ground approx. ten years. It has done great, even passing up some of my older Shumards. In August it began to lose its leaves at an alarming rate. They a...
view the full question and answer

What's causing holes in trunk of white oak tree in SouthBend IN?
June 10, 2013 - We have a huge White Oak in our backyard that is approx. 130 years old. This evening I became aware that there are several small holes around the trunk that appear to be oozing a dark sappy liquid. ...
view the full question and answer

Ravaged by snails
May 23, 2007 - Our Prickly Pear Cactus is being completely ravaged by snails. Is there something in my yard that could be attracting them? Is there something I can do to keep them off the plant? Also is is safe to...
view the full question and answer

Western soapberry dropping leaves in San Antonio
June 03, 2013 - My Western Soapberry tree (China berry?) Suddenly started dropping full, perfectly healthy green, leaf units. Now half the tree is turning yellow. There is a second tree in the yard not far from this ...
view the full question and answer

When should cochineal bugs be on prickly pear cactus?
January 05, 2012 - I am a fibers artist that would like to harvest the cochineal bugs from the prickly pear cactus. I would like to know what time of year should I expect to find the cochineal bugs around the Austin ar...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center