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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ant Farm

Recently when we went out to look at the trees we found an ant farm. Unfortunately, the ant farm was on the grapefruit ripening on our tree. The ants were herding aphids around on the grapefruit! For those of you that don't know what aphids are, they are small, soft bodied insects with a needle like mouth kind of like a mosquito. But instead of sucking the blood from animals, they suck sugar from the plants. As I'm sure you know, plants convert sunlight into sugar. They then pump the sugar throughout the plant, including the roots. Aphids stick their needle in and extract the sugar as it is on its way down to the root.

Now ants don't ride little miniature horses and yell " GIT ALONG LITTLE DOGGIES!", but they will pick up an aphid and move it to where they think they will get the best sugar. Then, when the aphid is nice and plump, they suck the sugar out of the aphid. In the process they compromise the fruit. I really donít want to use chemicals so I spray with water and then spray with diluted soap and water.

After I treated the fruit, I thought our problem was solved until I went to take a shower and the bathroom was crawling with ants. Ants were everywhere - - in the bathtub, on the floor, on the countertop, and even in the hamper. I said to myself, ďThey must need water, poor things!Ē

However, my attitude changed when I reached for my toothbrush and found that the ants were using it. That was the last straw. I donít even share my toothbrush with Mmmm. Thatís when I reached for the RAID!!

Getting rid of aphids is easy, they say. For best results, get some "aphid lions" (lacewing larvae). Ladybugs will do the job but they tend to fly away before the job is done. Aphid lions don't have their wings yet. And they're just starving for aphids.

The problem is that since the ants will attack anything that comes near the aphids, you have to get rid of the ants first. There are a number of ways suggested but I wonít bore you with them. Suffice it to say - - the ants are winning so far.

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