The peonies in my backyard always have ants crawling on the flower buds. Many people think ants are a pest on peonies.
A popular myth that ants “tickle the buds” or “lick the sugar” to help them open is not really true.
Ants on peony buds are common and totally harmless. They are NOT needed to “open” flower buds.
They are attracted to the sugary droplets on the outside of flower buds (nectaries) or to the honeydew produced by scale insects (discussed below). The blossoms would open regardless of the ants’ presence.
The ants actually provide protection! They attack other bud-eating pests by stinging, biting, or spraying them with acid and tossing them off the plant.
I suppose you could say that by protecting their food supply, the ants help my peonies bloom.
Where I live in New Hampshire, the pink, red, and old-fashioned white peonies are the focal points in my backyard. I treasure them in my garden, but I also fill my house with their beauty and fragrance.
Before I move the blooms indoors I carefully shake off the ants.
Read more about peonies on the Almanac’s Peony Plant Care page here.
Now, have you ever had ants in your mailbox?