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My strawberry plants have some kind of coating on their stems. It looks like dirt, but I've removed it several times and it keeps coming back. It also follows the stem. It doesn't seem to harm the plant, but it sometimes covers stem ends. This is what it looks like: enter image description here

  • Have you noticed the presence of ants around or inside this coating? – Patrick B. May 30 '16 at 18:39
  • I've seen some ants around the garden and the strawberry bed, but only one berry has been attacked by ants. The ants are more common in other garden areas. – cat40 May 30 '16 at 19:03
  • Is this what your soil looks like? Slightly sandy? Welcome to the site! – Stephie May 30 '16 at 20:22
  • The soil is actually mostly clay. – cat40 May 30 '16 at 21:14
  • What's your location and gardening zone? Here in Michigan we have black ants that make sizable colonies and they excavate rather wide holes, which can result in piles of sand like this. – Bulrush May 31 '16 at 11:03
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Patrick B's question is well placed, because this deposit has the look of ant activity, that is, ant nest building, where you're likely to see little piles of fine soil from their excavations. In this case, they may well be building a nest beneath our around this particular plant, underground. It won't kill your plant, unless their activities disrupt the soil too much round the roots. They don't generally eat strawberries in particular, just in case you were wondering, but if possible, it might be worth lifting the plant to see what's going on (preferably wearing gloves) and relocating it elsewhere if you discover a nest.

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