Hardiness Zone: 5a
Countrygal from New Castle, PA
It sounds like you have a classic case of aphids. The sticky substance you're referring to is called honeydew and is secreted by the feeding aphids. Ants just love to feed on honeydew, hence the sudden explosion of ants around your bushes. Some species of ants will actually "farm" aphids-caring for them and protecting them so that the ants have access to a constant supply of honeydew.
Give the leaves a good forceful spray (within reason) with the garden hose. This will knock off most of the aphids. To get rid of the remaining pests, mix 1 finely chopped onion, 1 large clove of finely chopped garlic, and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap with 2 cups of water. Put this all in a blender on high and then strain out the solids using cheesecloth or the toe of an old pantyhose. Pour this into a hand-held sprayer and spray this all over your burning bush. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for several weeks and keep using it at the first sign of trouble.
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Keep your eye on them--once the ants discover them, they may well take care of the problem! If not, mix up some mildly soapy water and spray that on the bushes, it should take care of them! (Luckily they're easy to get rid of!) Watch, though, that they don't invade other plants, or get on your roses.
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