I have a very small vegetable garden. I don't use any pesticides or herbicides. My lettuce plants are growing nicely and I've noticed the ants leave them alone. However, as soon as a lettuce leaf is removed from the plant and left on the ground the ants will start eating it.

Do plants have some kind of chemical that prevents ants from eating it?

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it does not conform to guidelines posted in the help center.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 3:35
  • 2
    I think its interesting and on-topic - it has to do with pest control.
    – davidgo
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 4:19
  • As the answer below suggests, ants are part of nature's clean up system, so a soft, dying leaf on the ground will be grist to their mill, and good job too - so long as they're not actually eating your growing plants (some ants do, sometimes, if they're desperate) its nothing to worry about - its not because growing, live lettuce contains some kind of insect repellent that they leave them alone..
    – Bamboo
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 11:38

1 Answer 1


Ants as a unified body of individuals are brilliant. Us humans could and should learn a thing or two from these insects. Ants eat a huge diversity of foods to include fats, cheese, breads, grease, other insects. Eating decomposing dying organic material is easier and less costly energy wise than eating live vigorous plant material.

Ants are amazing. Their social structure would blow you away. If people understood the life of ants they'd give up trying to kill them. They do not harm plants, don't care if they make aphid corrals on some plants. I love ants...I love bees and wasps and hornets (even though I was stung a minimum of 47 times by bald faced hornets)...I've never found the need to kill an entire community, not once in all my years which are quite a few. These guys humble me in a big way.

If there is a problem with ants in the home it is because of hygiene and leaving food out to announce in big neon signs that food is to be had!! Then we idiots hire some outfit to kill ALL INSECTS in and around the home. Don't get me started on the stupidity...the horrors we then get to deal with when we alone are then in control of all insects that once were never a problem. So sad, and so unnecessary.

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