Can ants pollinate?

lmrebert Posts: 363 ✭✭✭✭

I’m growing loofa right now which is such an interesting adventure! I’m really hoping to get some great loofa to use with my homemade soaps! We live in Southern California in the suburbs and try and plant as many pollinators as we can, but my loofa vines have massive amounts of ants trailing all over them and we read that sometimes any are attracted to aphids because they give off a sweet something... and to leave them to control the aphids and also they pollinate. I never heard this before. Thoughts anyone?



  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The pollination question is a good one, I had never thought of it. I don't think so, though, as the ants tend to take any food (pollen) back to the hive directly. As far as aphids, ants treat them like cows: they lead them to a food source and milk them later. (Some ants are also know to farm a form of fungus that they grow in special chambers of their nest.)

    Unfortunately, the aphids will weaken your plants and can cause diseases. Sounds like you need at least some time spraying the plants with a strong spray of water to wash off the aphids.

  • pamelamackenzie
    pamelamackenzie Posts: 143 ✭✭✭

    The comment from Shllnzl is probably correct. The Forest Website indicates that some ants even have a natural substance on them that kills pollen grains.

  • lmrebert
    lmrebert Posts: 363 ✭✭✭✭

    Thanks!! That's really interesting... I'll spray the vines now... I do have at least 5 good loofah on there now aneed hoping for more!

  • lmrebert
    lmrebert Posts: 363 ✭✭✭✭
  • I had ants go into the forming passion flower buds and remove the pollen, preventing it from ever forming the flower. They are a constant battle where I am living. They also farm aphids so I have to spray down the plants and hope mildew doesn't form. And that's not even going into the issue of the fire ants 😡

  • Obiora E
    Obiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    I was doing a Citizen Science project with regards to various milkweed plants and the only pollinators that I ever saw on the plants were ants.

    I work on a farm part-time and there are over 70 apple trees and for the past two year I have seen a variety of small and large pollinators, including ants. I can safely say through experience that yes, ants (possibly not all but definitely some), can and do pollinate.

  • From what I've read, it depends on the size of the pollen particles. The bigger ones they take back to the nest.