Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants in the Garden
Ants are every gardener’s friend and foe. On the one hand, they have some great benefits in soil amendment and your plant’s overall health. And on the other hand, they may have painful bites, destroy structures, introduce pests, or even bite your plants.
There are several methods of eliminating ants, but some may be toxic to your plants, and they may even contaminate your soil. Luckily, there are several natural options available.
Some of these products are even available in your kitchen. In this article, we discuss the role of ants in your garden and some of the natural ways of controlling their population.
Different Types of Ants
There are more than 10,000 species of ants with varying characteristics. But the most common species include:
- Rover ant
- Fire ant
- Black house ant
- Leafcutter ant
- Black garden ant
- Argentine ant
Before we go into how to eliminate ant from your garden, let’s briefly review how they can help your garden and how exactly they can hurt your garden.
Benefits of Ants for Your Garden
Ants are natural pest control agents. They feed on other pests, their young ones, eggs, and even disrupt their feeding areas.
In some cases, ants have been deliberately introduced as part of an integrated pest control strategy.
Consistent pollination is every farmer’s concern since it ensures a productive harvest.
That’s why some farmers try hand pollination. Ants help with pollination because they transfer pollen as they move from one plant to another.
They Maintain a Balance in the Eco-System
As ants build their homes within the soil, they create aeration channels. This facilitates the movement of oxygen, nutrients, and water within the soil.
Ants are also decomposers. They feed on dead animals, plants, and speed up organic matter accumulation in the ground.
They are also a source of food for frogs, lizards, and other reptiles. These larger animals also help in eliminating other larger pests.
Negative Effects of Ants
If ants have such amazing benefits, why would you want to eliminate them?
First of all, you need to control their population. And below are some ways they could be hurting your garden.
They Bring Pests
Ants are one of the reasons you may have aphids on your plants.
They have a symbiotic relationship with aphids whereby they protect the aphids, and the aphids provide honeydew, a waste product that’s sugary and gives the ants energy.
But ants don’t just wait for the aphids to excrete this stuff. They’ve learned to stroke the aphids’ backs (farm) to make them produce it.
Ants can even carry aphids that they find elsewhere and bring them to the plant, building a large colony.
This isn’t an effect on your garden, but painful bites are one of the negative effects of ants.
Carpenter ants have painful bites that also cause burning sensations.
They even live in woods. So if your garden is close to your hose, they’ll destroy your wooden structures.
Fire ant bites are also painful, and their venom lasts in your system for days.
They May Transfer Bacteria and Pathogens
Ants may bring bacteria and harmful pathogens from another farm to your plants.
They May Feed on Your Plants
Some ants may feed on your seedlings or weak plants.
How to Eliminate Ants Naturally from Your Garden – 9 Simple Methods
Below are some of the organic ways of killing ants.
#1. Spray Vinegar on their Trails
Ants leave peculiar scents on their trails that other ants identify them and follow. So mix water and vinegar and spray along these trails.
Vinegar tampers with the scent, and works as a deterrent, especially when sprayed at the entrances.
#2. Neem Oil
Neem oil is one of the most popular naturally occurring pesticides. Extracted from the Azadirachta Indica tree,it contains Azadirachtin, a compound that repels and kills ants and other insects by interfering with their growth hormones.
You can spray Neem oil on an aphid’s infestation to prevent the ants from visiting your plant.
#3. Use Dishwashing Soap
Dish soap is also quite effective at eliminating ants. Mix one pint of warm/hot water with a teaspoon of dishwashing soap.
Shake thoroughly and spray around the plants. Be careful with soap since some plants are quite sensitive.
You can also pour this mixture into their habitat. Since you will not be spraying any plants, you can use as much soap as possible.
#4. Make a “Sweet” Trap
Ants love honeydew because it’s sugary. And they will always fall for sugary traps.
For this trap, mix equal parts of borax, honey, and sugar and place the mixture on the trails or at the entrance.
If you have no honey, you can use peanut butter instead. This mixture is sticky enough to capture the ants, and borax is highly toxic to ants.
And since it kills them slowly, they’ll manage to get to their hideout, transferring the poison to the other ants.
This is one of the best methods of getting rid of ants overnight. However, handle borax carefully since it’s toxic to humans and pets.
#5. Use Beneficial Nematodes
Beneficial nematodes such as Steinernema Carpocapsae effectively eliminate ants and other insects.
They feed on the ants, and since ants can’t stand them, those that survive often migrate to other areas.
However, these nematodes aren’t very mobile, and they may only last for a week. You will need to re-introduce them often for best results.
#6. Use Citrus By-Products
Ants hate the smell of citrus. That’s why you can even deter them by just placing lemon or orange leaves along their trails or close to their nests.
If you have citrus oils, you can also make a spray. Mix a ¾ cup of citrus oil with one tablespoon of molasses and one tablespoon of dishwashing soap in a gallon of water. And then spray the plants and drench the soil.
#7. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil is another oil that repel ants. Mix with water in a spray bottle and spray along the trails and areas where ants visit often. Or dip cotton balls in the oil and place along the trails to deter the ants.
#8. Dehydrate Them
Mineral powders like diatomaceous earth and baby powder kill ants by cutting them up and dehydrating their bodies.
Spray this powder along the trails and into their nests. This method works best for shallow nests, but it’s worth trying even in larger nests.
#9. Use Hot Water
You can boil water and pour it down their nest. This is a long shot since ants build their homes to withstand such occurrences.
But with a few tries, you can eliminate a whole colony of ants, including their queen.
If you want to get rid of ants in your garden or home without using any harmful chemicals, then you will find one or more of the methods mentioned in this article effective. These include mineral powders, sweet traps, essential oils such as orange and peppermint oil, and beneficial nematodes. Before buying any of the products, you can tackle the problem with hot water and/or soap, which are readily available in your home.