Dear PoP – Question for Gardners – Should These Ants be Killed?

“Dear PoP,

I was wondering if anybody around here has seen clusters of this tiny red ant-looking like bugs, and if they know what they are? Should they be killed?”

Anyone know if these are harmful to your home and/or garden?

On a side note, I think the photos are awesome…

21 Comment

  • They remind me of the biting red ants in the amazon! Call the local ag extension service

  • Funny this post should e made today – I just noticed the same bugs in our garden today (for the first time ever).

    Our garden is havey on native plants (and a non-native butterfly bush).

    Anyone out there know what they are? life cycle? native? invassive?


  • Collect these ants and put them all over the yard of the person who has 15 gutters going from their roof.


  • Aphids and ants are symbiotic. These appear to be aphids. Ants farm aphids — aphids suck the plants and their sweet excretions are then food for the ants.

  • anon. gardener

    i did some quick googling – I think they are Leaf Footed Bug nymphs. something like aphids. pretty cool looking, actually.
    here are two of many links I found:

  • A quick google search indicates they might be leaf-footed bug nymphs – what do others think? I’ve seen the adult versions of these bugs, but never the red babies, apparently!

  • The best way to get rid of aphids (which will kill your plants) is LADYBUGS! You can buy them online to release in your garden. A great natural, colorful pesticide.

  • Ants pollinate some species, like the native trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) – orange flowers, grows wild all over the place. So ants can be beneficial to your garden, but they are no fun in your house.

    Inside the best way to get rid of them is to plug holes to the outside and clean thoroughly, particularly along the pathways ants travel since they follow sent trails.

    In your yard, I’d only bother with getting rid of them if they’re fire ants or something. Native ants are ubiquitous so you’d be fighting a losing battle if you take them on and it may affect some of your plants.

  • If you can’t tqke the ants, move back to Idaho!

  • Nice photos. mild soapy sprays will get rid of the aphids and not harm your plants, although this is temporary. Planting other plants that aphids like, such as mints or roses and there are others. Not sure if these types, however, respond to the same plants.

  • I just saw these yesterday for the first time on my squash! It’s been a battle trying to get the squash to produce, after being attacked by sugar ants and now this – I’m not sure how detrimental they are yet as I just noticed them yesterday but I don’t think their presence is a good sign for yielding squash. I used boric acid to draw the ants away but I’m not sure there is a long term solution to these guys

  • they are all God’s creatures

  • Jennifer: They don’t look like ants to me (no thin waist). In any case, I like the idea that we have this small wildlife around in the city since we have not chance of bears or moose!

  • If they are not harmful to the plants, or dangerous around kids, I don’t mind them hanging around the plant (unless, suddenly the entire plant is covered with them).

    I do wonder if they’d like PVC gutters:o)

  • anon. gardener

    re: aphids, one way to keep them off your delicious (to them) roses is to plant feverfew near by. the aphids flock to the feverfew – the stems will literally be black with aphids – which you can then cut off and throw away. it may take a year to get established, but it’s really worked for me. plus the feverfew flowers are charming – weedy and daisy-like.

  • Puzzling – I remember seeing them around a few years ago but now googled to no avail (so many bad sites!) – but I tend to think they are more in the aphid family. Put your hose on jet and smash hell out of them. Wash them off, scoop them up and grind them underfoot. (to heck with all god’s creatures – god created smallpox after all.) Then mix up some dish soap & water 1/10 and squirt it on all the leaves.

    Ladybugs are more a nice theory than practical results – at best a 2-3 week off solution – kind of like bacteria will eat all the oil in the gulf.

  • Update:

    They moved away from the plant they were hanging out yesterday and are nowhere to be be seen (unless they transformed into something else). I only spotted a lonely ranger on top of my thyme plant. I did the spray him/her off with the hose. I’ll keep an eye.
    I googled them as well, and found pictures, but no real useful information on what to do about them.

  • Kudos to those who found the leaf-footed bug photos. Those nymphs (aka babies) definitely look right. That said, I’m pretty sure these are actually boxelder bug nymphs. They are very common in the D.C. area, and can often be seen collected in big groups of babies, teenagers, and very horny adults (who spend up to half an hour while mating with their hind ends connected). These insects don’t usually cause much significant damage to vegetation, so I wouldn’t worry too much about seeing them around your garden occasionally. The main problem they cause for humans results from their habit of overwintering inside our houses and the coming out and pooping everywhere! Here’s a good link:

    Unfortunately it’s tough to tell these little nymphs apart sometimes. They could also be milkweed bugs. But definitely not ants.

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