Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - July 30, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Pests
Title: Ants in outdoor plants in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Live in Austin. The problem is THIS. Ants have invaded our outside potted plants- mandevilla, begonia , lemon tree and violas. The colonies are devouring the roots it appears. Please give suggestions on repellants. I'm concerned about the toxicity of some substances and poisoning my large outside potted plants. But we need get get them out and keep them out.

ANSWER:

Since we are not entomologists, we will refer you to some websites with what we consider pertinent information:

University of California Integrated Pest Management Ants

Gardenguides.com How to Drive Ants Out of Potted Plants

eHow Home Products that Keep Ants out of Plants

If we may add one point from personal experience: ants are farmers and their herds are usually aphids. If you find very small white spots on the bottom of your leaves or a white or black moldy substance, usually in the same area, you have aphids. The ants will fiercely protect their "crop" from natural predators. If you get rid of the aphids, the ants will have no reason to return.

University of California Integrated Pest Management Control of Aphids

 

More Pests Questions

Controlling scale insects on hollies
July 10, 2005 - I have a number of holly shrubs at the side of my house. Recently I noticed that they have tiny white spots on them. I looked at several native Texas gardening books, but can't find what I need to t...
view the full question and answer

White spotting on prickly pear cactus
July 28, 2015 - Hello- I have large prickly pear cacti and just noticed large white spotting on some of the leaves. I also see some black bugs and apparently they are the problem.They are about 1/4" long. How can I ...
view the full question and answer

Why are small leaf pieces aligned on top of exposed root?
July 11, 2011 - Hi. An oak tree in my yard has one of its exposed roots covered in hundreds of small pieces of leaves. The pieces follow exactly the shape of the root above the surface. What insect would do this and...
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

Lopidea on Texas Mountain Laurel
March 10, 2016 - How do I get rid of lopidea on mountain laurel?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.