Do Ants Eat Sunflowers? (Yes, But…)

Last updated on October 10th, 2022

My neighbor recently planted sunflowers in her garden. It is incredible to see the bright yellow flowers turning their faces toward the sun.

However, she came one day and started saying that the sunflowers were attracting insects in her garden, most of which were different species of ants.

I was surprised to learn that ants eat sunflowers. So, I decided to learn more about it and help answer my neighbor’s questions about ants and sunflowers.

Ants don’t eat sunflowers, however, these insects are more interested in nectar and the sticky substance secreted by aphids. Some species of ants live on sap and others collect honeydew to consume and take back to the colony.

Why are sunflowers attractive to ants?

Ants do not eat the blossoms or the leaves of the sunflower plant. Instead, you will find that the insects are attracted to the nectar at the base of the leaves of the sunflowers and other plants in the area.

They drink the nectar found at the base of the leaves because nectar is a staple food for ants.

All flowers that produce nectar attract ants and not just sunflowers.

Sometimes ants are also attracted to sunflowers if the plant is infected, and the sap-sucking insects cover the plants in their honeydew-like excrement.

This will attract the particular species of ants that collect and consume the excrement of insects.

Do ants eat sunflower seeds?

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While an entire sunflower seed will be too much for a single ant to consume, they are mostly known for scavenging the bits and pieces remaining around the bird feeders left by either sparrow, blue jays, or even squirrels nibbling and leaving crumbs.

But yes, ants on sunflowers can eat the seeds, though they will only nibble on them.

If you want to harvest sunflower seeds, you must wash them before consuming them. 

While cleaning, you might find holes in the seeds because these are the ones that ants have eaten.

Similarly, you can give sunflower seeds if you have an ant colony. But you need to remove the shells and give the insects only seeds inside.

Do ants eat any other part of the sunflower plant?

There is no record of the insect-eating the leaves or the plant’s stalk. However, my neighbor noticed that several ants, especially the larger ones, often dig into the sunflowers’ soil.

She got worried, thinking that they would feed on the roots. However, the ants do not dig into the soil to eat the roots but to build their homes.

Sometimes the ants burrowing in the soil can be helpful as it keeps the soil aerated.

Are ants dangerous to sunflower plants?

Typically, ants are not dangerous to sunflowers, especially the large black species of ants. However, they can indirectly prove to be harmful to the plants.

Aphids are known to be the most dangerous pest for sunflower plants.

If you find that the ants are attracted to the sunflower plants, it is not only because of the nectar in the plants but for some other reason which you can be assured that your plants are suffering from an aphid infestation.

You will find that once you can control the aphid infestation, the visits of the ants will also reduce.

How do ants reach the nectar produced by sunflowers?

Ants are excellent climbers and can easily crawl up the stalks of the sunflower plant to reach the nectar.

They can climb up to heights of fifteen and twenty feet to reach the nectar.

This unique ability of ants makes it easy for the insect to extract nectar from the tallest sunflower plants known to reach heights of thirty feet. 

How can you remove ants from your sunflower plants?

If you want to remove ants from your sunflower plants, you need to sprinkle some ground cinnamon or cayenne pepper around your plants.

According to the website,, by spraying your sunflower plants with cinnamon mixed in water, you can prevent an aphid infestation of your plants.

As a result, fewer ants will be attracted to the sunflower plants.

Otherwise, even a sharp burst of water from your garden hose can prevent the ants from returning to the sunflower plants.

Interested in learning about what animals eat sunflower seeds? You can read more about them in that article.

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