Interesting thx. Last time I looked into it, when we were in a place that got full day sun, I never really got my head around the gel or peg things. There was no outdoor tap that could have provided some kind of daily timed dose of water (auto-irrigation). Instead we had a friend over twice a week to water them... not ideal!
I had a chili padi plant. Very pretty, and it did fruit! It succumbed to something, mildew IIRC. Same happened to my mini-lime (kalamansi). I'm surprised that ants like chili... maybe they're 'chili with everything' Asian ants
I suppose the weather here can be so extreme you have to pick what you grow very carefully. That includes prior research into what each plant needs and dislikes. Bougainvillea needs huge amounts of direct sun each day, or it grows but has few leaves, never mind flowering. On the flipside Yellow Palms do NOT like direct sunshine, as I've recently learned.
Ants are bad news IME. If you get mealy bugs on a plant, then ants move in to to feed off them. But then that's not enough, they will start accessing your home seeking water, food and shelter. And before you know it you can have an ants nest inside
your home. This has happened to me twice now, once where the ants had travelled indoors quite a long way (10M?) and set up a nest in a bag of documents in our study. The second time more recently where they did similar but in the slots of a knife-block in the kitchen. Discovering both of those was gross in horror-film proportions, as when disturbed the nests immediately erupted!
For mealy bugs I've previously used chemical sprays. Hard core insecticide, really nasty stuff. You need rubber gloves and a face mask to use it. Even then in most conditions you get some on you, so then you have to go and have a thorough shower and soap off ASAP. The current alt trick is adding 5 drops of washing-up liquid to a 2L pump sprayer of water, and spraying all over, leaves, stems, soil surface twice a day for say five days. That eradicates the bugs. Then either repeat 1*/day after to keep them off, or else simply remain vigilant and be prepared for repeat episodes. But yes, in general terms, having ants keen on your plants seems like an indicator of current problems, and/or a bad omen of worse to come...
[Apologies if any of the above repeats stuff I've posted before. I've been having parallel chats with various people over the past few weeks, and it's hard for me to recall who I've told what].
p.s. I got a minor re-occurrence. I'm now using 10 drops/2L and it appears for the time being to be keeping them in abeyance. Vigilance is clearly required for outdoor house-plants here. Touch wood.