Literally. It’s hard to see here, but each wee kale stem is crawling with ants, from about 1″ to down into the soil. The kale are wilting (though not very quickly), and the ants keep marching on – they’ve moved over to the next row of kale.
It’s possible the ants are farming aphids on the roots, for the sweet honeydew that comes out of their backsides (yes, ew, but neat!). But by the look of the progressively emaciating stems, I think they’re chewing them down.
I found a website on repelling and killing ant pests. I think the situation is beyond ‘repel’ and warranting ‘kill’. The white powder is diatomaceous earth I sprinkled to try to kill their asses. Does not appear to be working. The site also suggests protecting plant stems with petroleum (or other) jelly. I’ll try that next, but I won’t be able to control subterranean feasting.
I will not use synthetic pesticides, but are there any other suggestions?