It may be better just to leave the ants on dragon fruit flowers alone. Let the ants do their work. Some folks say ants really help carry something in & out of the flowers. We're not sure but it might be the sugar. Over time, some growers have found a direct link between ants & the fertilization rate of dragon fruit flowers.
Self Sufficient Me talks about it (anecdotally) here (from 2:30-3:04):
>> Link YouTube:5 Tips How to grow a ton of dragon fruit
If your dragon fruit flowers are blooming near the end of July (the rainy season), your plants will be visited by more ants than usual. As there are more ants around, you know that it's beginning to rain soon. They need to move themselves & their eggs high up so they won't get flooded and drowned by the rain.
Mark, the guy in the video above, even generously lets the ants build their nest inside his yellow dragon fruit pot. These little creatures won't do much harm to the flowers. So it is okay just to let them enjoy the party.
As you grow more stuff in the garden, you will see this pattern emerge again & again. Ants on bean flowers, ants on chili pepper flowers, ants everywhere. So we guess this might be the natural pattern. And instead of discouraging the ants, we can let the natural flow do its things.
However, if you notice:
Ants on the dragon fruits
But what if the ants are still there after the flowers have turned into fruits? In some places, these ants might attract aphids, a type of insect that could damage the fruits. In this case, if you leave the flowers (which are now brown, dried & crispy) on the fruits, you should remove them now. This will reduce the number of ants around & consequently discourage bugs hovering around your fruits.
Some folks have found that ants, or specifically Argentine Ants, are quite troublesome for varieties like Condor, American Beauty & Nicaragua Red. So keep an eye out for those.
To keep ants away, here are some ways:
To keep ants away, you can try this inexpensive solution:
- 3 tablespoon boric acid
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 gallon water
Make some feeding stations for the ants in between your dragon fruit plants. The boric acid gets back to the queen ant & the colony gets killed. The sugar goes bad in about a week so you can make a batch of this in a container. Use some for the week & keep the rest in the fridge.
Refill the container with new solution once a week & with that amount you can use 2-3 times per week. In 2 weeks, you'll see much fewer ants. Repeat every 6 weeks throughout the summer. We picked up this recipe from a dragon fruit grower, Gray Martin. Here is his YouTube channel.
Another thing you can try is using citrus peel. We think it may be the spicy/minty stuff in the peel that keeps the ants away. A little application of tangerine peels to keep ants from damaging our little bananas.
There is another lesser-known way to keep the ants away, that is, utilizing the power of enzymes. It is really nothing fancy & you won't need a full-blown lab to make this stuff. Indeed, enzyme can be collected right from your kitchen or your kitchen scraps using the method of fermentation.
With a ratio of 1:3:10, that is:
- 1 part sugar
- 3 parts organic waste
- 10 parts water
You can mix & make a liquid that works effectively to shoo the ants away but is still gentle enough for your health & the environment around.
Although its name name is not that pretty or attractive, this stuff works. And if you would like to learn how to make it yourself, check out this post below:
>> Link Blog post: How to make garbage enzyme
Good times for ants, bad times for ants
As we have just explored, there are okay times for ants and there are no-no times for ants. If they are just marching or swirling around your dragon fruit flowers, then it may be a good sign. They may be carrying the sugars and have something to do with the fertilization rate. And we might want to leave them alone.
However, if they continue marching when our fruits are beginning to form or developing, then naughty naughty ants should be asked to leave the party. Maybe next time, or another place with sugar for them–but not on our beloved dragons. Hope you have found some good ideas in the post. Have a great time growing dragon fruits.
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