I have a pot of mint on my balcony. The pot seems to contain an Aphid colony (probably a separate question on how to get rid of them).

But today, I noticed many ants in the pot as well. The question is, are they here for the mint or for the aphids? What should I do?


Some ant here and there might eat a dead aphid or two, but they seem to actually have a symbiotic relationship, more or less, with the ants using the aphids for sugar, which they actually make, believe it or not, and then in turn protecting the aphids.

So, no, neither is helping you. Washing the plant off with a very diluted soap and water solution will get rid of the aphids.

There are sustainable ways to keep ants off the plant. Getting rid of the ones on the plant and the balcony and placing a dish of water on which your plant sits would be one way to go. A deep dish that is bigger than the pot so that the ants can't swim to the island (ants are pretty clever and resourceful) would help.

Also, I just saw this on this same forum:

Ants and aphids - which should I fight first

  • I'll go look at your site Srihari but ants are good guys. I've never had a problem with them! Easy to get rid of aphids IF the aphids are a problem and with mint I doubt aphids are a problem. Ants aren't hurting anything. I'll read your post....how could anyone want to kill such intelligent, altruistic and resourceful insects?
    – stormy
    Sep 28 '16 at 23:22
  • Ants are part of the ecology and soils here. I've never seen so many ants. I love these hive dudes! Sure they will farm aphids but they won't be 'protecting' them. And this is usually for a very short period of time. I think it is far more fascinating to watch them herd and move the aphids. Killing anything should be done with complete knowledge and only if that something is causing harm...more harm than a few holes, leaves or a few aphids. Us humans are so arrogant that we think WE SHOULD be in charge. tch tch tch!
    – stormy
    Sep 28 '16 at 23:27
  • I meant away from the plant, Stormy. Not entirely. I don't even let my cats hunt mice or squirrels in my garden when I am around. Ants, aphids and even Yellow Jackets abound. as do Lady Bugs and various predators. However, I do not want to sacrifice young plants entirely and I am sure most gardeners wont either. I hope I didn't come across as anti-bug. In a rush to save the species that move, we sometimes forget that plants deserve compassion too. :) Sep 28 '16 at 23:44
  • Now that is the kind of sentiment I love hearing! Do you have a problem with aphids? My garden, heck my acreage is full of ants and ant homes in the ground as well as dead/dying trees. We have this pumice sand and makes for perfect ant real estate! Yet when we have a downpour it floods here and I have yet to figure out what these ants do to survive. Their homes must flood completely and it takes half of a day or more to drain into the soil. No slope for the surface water to drain horizontally either. I feed the feral cats to give the baby bunnies a bit more chance.
    – stormy
    Sep 29 '16 at 19:30
  • You should see the cats and bunnies all eating off the same paper plate! I have kinda raised our animal and pet food costs...sigh. Now I even feed the ravens to keep this particular mob here, keep the other predator birds (eagles, hawks, owls...) and so they don't get too hungry and carry off baby bunnies themselves. I am a bit over the edge, my poor hubby!
    – stormy
    Sep 29 '16 at 19:34

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