Ants Are On My Fava Beans. What Do I Do?

These ants are farming aphids for their sweet honeydew.

“I planted fava beans, and I noticed that I have ants on them. How do I get rid of them without using any unnatural pesticides?” Question from Isabella of Waxhaw, North Carolina

Answer: There are two possible reasons why ants may be visiting your fava beans, and in both situations, the ants are not doing damage. Here are the two possible scenarios and solutions.

  1.  Aphids are a pest of fava beans, and ants “farm” aphids to eat the sweet honeydew the aphids produce. If you have aphids, they are destructive pests that need to be managed. Please click on this link to read “How Do I Manage Aphids Without Chemicals?” Check out the image above to see what aphids look like, for easy identification.
  2. Fava beans have “extrafloral nectaries”, or leaf-like structures at the base of the leaves that produce extra nectar, and many non-harmful insects feed on this nectar, including ants. They may be pesky, but the ants will not damage your plants. If they really annoy you, just spray the plants off with a sharp stream of hose water now and then to knock them off.

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist