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Do Ants Eat Onion Plants – Plus Tips To Protect Your Harvest!

Damage from insects is a problem for many gardeners growing onion plants. However, the nature of this damage will likely have gardeners wondering: “do ants eat onion plants?” 

Although onion plants are not necessarily an ant’s first choice, they will start eating them if other pests surround the plants. This is because other insects like mealy bugs and slugs will attract ants, especially once they have set up shop on your onion plants and have caused some damage already. 

Here we will be describing how ants can damage onion plants. We will also be explaining what you can do to get ants away from your onion plants and keep them away permanently. Let’s dive right in! 

Are Ants Attracted To Onion Plants? 

Interestingly, when the onion plant is healthy and robust, ants are repelled by the smell of onions. This is because the scent and taste of a healthy onion are very strong to ants, and they do not tend to eat onions by choice when the conditions are not just right for them. 

Some things that attract ants are moisture and other pests. Ants are attracted to water because, like us humans, they need to drink water to survive. As a result, puddles of water in your garden could easily attract ants. 

Meanwhile, plants are also attractive to other pests like mealy bugs and slugs. These pests commonly eat onion plants, and they attract ants because of the sweet secretions that they emit when eating the onion plant. When these secretions are on and around your onion plants, the ants will likely start to eat your onion plant as well. This is especially true if the onion plant is already starting to die. 

It is also important to mention that some fertilizers cause an onion plant to grow too quickly. This will cause the plant to have weak cell walls, which will make the onion plant more enticing to ants and other pests. A weak plant is also much easier for an ant to eat than a healthy one. 

How Can You Tell If Ants Are Eating Your Onion Plants? 

Most of the time, you can tell when ants have been eating your onion plants because there is physical damage to the plants that you can see. Most of the time, these will appear to be little holes or bite marks on various parts of your onion plants. 

In addition, ants are attracted to onion plants more when other pests are present. Seeing other types of insects around your onion plants are a good indicator that ants may also be present, especially if there are saps and dews around your onion plant that are coming from these pests. 

Can You Save Onion Plants That Ants Have Damaged? 

Yes, onion plants can be saved if the damage from the ants is not too severe. If there is only minor damage to your onion plant’s leaves and not extensive damage to the onion bulb itself, then there is a good chance they can be saved if you act quickly. 

On the other hand, it is much less likely that you can revive a rotting onion plant. This is especially true if the rotting occurs on the onion bulb itself. Unfortunately, plant rotting is a sign that the plant has already died. 

How To Save An Onion Plant From Ant Damage

Luckily, it is relatively easy to save an onion plant from damage that is not very extensive. Here we have broken down how you can save your onion plants from further damage in a simple step-by-step process. 

Step 1: Get The Insects Off Of Your Onion Plant 

The first step in this process is to wash all insects away from your onion plant. You can spray your plant with a water-based solution of water, dish soap, and lemon juice. Plain water works in a pinch as well. Getting rid of the insects will allow you to assess the damage better and move forward with the next steps. 

Step 2: Asses Your Onion Plant’s Damage 

Minor damage from ants and other insects is not likely to completely kill your onion plants. This is especially true if the damage is superficial, as your onion plant should heal after some care.

However, extreme damage and rotting in onion plants are almost impossible to come back from. Once you have assessed that the damage to your onion plants is not too severe, you can move on to step three. 

Step 3: Take Preventative Measures To Keep The Pests Away From Your Onion Plants 

Next, you should take preventative measures to keep ants and other pests away from your onion plants. This will prevent ants from coming back to your onion plants later. As we have mentioned, ants attract water and other smaller insects.

Therefore, it is a good idea to ensure that there is no standing water around your onion plants. Similarly, regularly checking your onion plants for pests is a good idea. This way, you can eliminate them before they start attracting ants. 

Things To Consider 

When getting rid of ants on your onion plants, you may be left asking a few other questions. For instance, you may wonder what insecticides are safe for your onion plants. Here are some other things to consider about ants and onion plants. 

What Are Some Safe Insecticides For Onion Plants? 

Some gentle or organic pesticides can be great for quickly getting pests off your onion plants, which will also prevent them from attracting ants. Some great, gentle insecticides on onion plants include insecticidal soaps and neem oils. These work by getting rid of bugs, but they are also more gentle on plants than harsh, chemical-based insecticides are.