Ants and their impact on vegetation

Ants are responsible for destroying more vegetation than any other group of animals. As a result of this they cost the crop industry more than one billion dollars each year.

Leaf cutter and harvester ant colonies are a serious concern for agricultural farmers. Leaf cutters are known to be able to strip an entire citrus tree of its leaves in under 24 hours!

Some ant species, particularly the European black garden ants, gorge themselves on various soft fruits, especially strawberries and raspberries.

A selection of ant species have a symbiotic relationship with sap feeding insects by farming honey dew from them. As the sap feeding insects are protected by the ants, they can grow numerous and fast. This can lead to serious damage of crops.

Despite these negative impacts on vegetation, the ants play an important role in many plant lifecycles. Ants turn and aerate the soil in which the plants grow, and some ants are known to help disperse plant seeds, also known as myrmecochory.