En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

How are NPIN Deer Resistance Ratings Determined?
May 06, 2014 - If your plant data-base (which is the best thing since sliced bread!) is silent on the degree to which a plant is deer-resistant, does this mean you just don't have enough information to make the cal...
view the full question and answer

Cat deterents
May 01, 2007 - I was wondering if there is such a plant that will deter cats from going in your gardens. I have a problem with them using my garden as a litter box, and had heard that there was a plant that the...
view the full question and answer

Holes in leaves of wax myrtle from Austin
April 30, 2011 - I just purchased 4 of the 5 gallon Wax Myrtles at the last spring plant sale and after planting them, they are getting eaten by bugs leaving holes in the leaves. I can't find any of the bugs doing th...
view the full question and answer

Identity of small objects that look like tiny pecans
November 14, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am doing my science fair project on acorns. Last year I measured how many acorns and other nature-y stuff fell into a baby pool from a live oak tree in my backyard every ...
view the full question and answer

Mites in soil of house plants
June 25, 2008 - Hi there! I recently noticed tiny silver mites in the soil of my plants that I only notice after watering. These plants are indoors in on a window ledge (a dwarf palm, aloe plant and Hawaiian Scheffle...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center