There are ants on the tip of my young avocado plant, and they've been there for a while now. I didn't know what to do. I thought they would go away after a while, but they don't. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? If I have to get rid of them, the method preferably should not involve going to the store to buy extra stuff.

Ants on tip of avocado plant Scale insects

  • Can we get a picture with the “dark spots” in focus, please? I am quite sure that they play an important part in your ant situation. – Stephie Jun 18 '18 at 13:51
  • It's night time here, but I'll try @Stephie – MythicalCode_ Jun 18 '18 at 13:53

It's not terribly clear what the insects are, but they look likely to be scale insect. The presence of ants (if they are there) would confirm that, because ants collect honeydew from the scale insect (also aphids), so you need to get rid of the scale and not worry about ants, they'll go on their own if there's no scale or aphids present.

If you're expecting to get fruit off this plant, then certain insecticide treatments can't be used, so you need something that kills the scale but is considered safe for vegetable/fruit plants. You can try spraying with neem or horticultural oil, but repeat treatments will likely be necessary. There's a thread here about ways to deal with scale on various plants which might be of some interest https://www.gardensalive.com/product/managing-scaleinside-and-out

  • Does neem actually kill the scale? I want that involves killing them, and making sure they don't return. And do I just spray them on the tip, or the whole plant? And how did it get there in the first place ._. – MythicalCode_ Jun 18 '18 at 14:05
  • If you want something that kills them outright, you'll need to seek out a systemic, heavy duty insecticide that says it will kill scale and which is available in your area, assuming you're not expecting fruit from this plant, and follow the instructions on the container.Neem will give some control rather than killing them immediately. How they got there? you open doors and windows at times, or have brought into the house other plants or foliage occasionally. A systemic insecticide will keep off pests for up to 6 weeks - but that doesn't mean you won't get another infestation at a later date. – Bamboo Jun 18 '18 at 14:11
  • Info here on neem oil spray saferbrand.com/articles/benefits-uses-neem-oil-for-plants - the first image looks not dissimilar to the the insects on your plant, although its not possible to see the insects clearly in your photo. – Bamboo Jun 18 '18 at 14:20
  • For now, until I get some neem, I've removed the insects with cotton swabs. But today, while I was removing some of the new ones that keep appearing, I noticed one of them was moving. It seemed like a miniature black ladybug. Is this scale or something else? – MythicalCode_ Jun 19 '18 at 12:00
  • might be a nymph, or young scale insect - the adults affix themselves firmly, but the nymphs move around. For fixed ones, so long as they're not on leaves, but are on woody parts, a cotton bud dipped in alcohol will shift them, but don't use that method for leaves. Are you now sure they're scale - did they look like the ones in that image in the thread I posted last? – Bamboo Jun 19 '18 at 12:29

Another thing you can do if the ants are ‘farming’ unwanted insects on your plant is to place sticky tape on your pot to stop them climbing.

An alternative method is to place baby powder, on the compost, on the outskirts of your pot. Ants hate the way it feels and should not return.

This will not affect your plant in any ways or form.

Bamboo is also correct on how to deal with unwanted insects he mentioned.

  • The baby powder's not much of a defense if it's raining (I keep my pot on the balcony). – MythicalCode_ Jun 22 '18 at 14:23

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