Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Explore Outdoors ~ Got Ants in your Plants?

I do! And I'm not too worried. That's because these ants and plants have a working relationship. A partnership of sorts. 
The peony has extrafloral nectaries on the sepals (the leaf-like things that protect the flower). That nectar attracts ants that, in exchange for the food, protect the plant from flower-chewing bugs. There are other nectaries inside the flower that produce food for pollinators - once the flower opens.

This week, take a closer look at flowers and flower buds.
  • Do you see ants on the plants?
  • Do the ants look like they are collecting nectar?
  • Are the flowers open or still closed buds?
  • Are the ants eating other insects on the plants?
  • Do the ants leave pheromone signals letting other ants know how to get to these sweet treats?
  • Do you see other pest-eating beneficials on plants, such as ladybug larvae or lacewings?

You can find out more about ants and peonies at Illinois Extension and the master gardeners at Penn State. And by observing peony flowers wherever you find them!

1 comment:

  1. I don't hsve peonies myself but love to look and smell them in my neighborhood. Peonies and ants = friends.