10 ways to deal with ants in the garden

June 23, 2015

Ants in your pants, er, garden? Here are a few ways to deal with ants who call your garden home.

10 ways to deal with ants in the garden

Ants: bad and good

Gardeners usually consider ants to be pests, and it's true that ants can loosen the soil around young plants, causing them to die. Some species shelter and protect aphids so they can feed on the aphids' sweet honeydew.

  • On the positive side, ants can improve air circulation in heavy soils, and their burrows improve water drainage.

1. Give ants an eviction notice

  • Mix equal parts of water and white vinegar and spray it into anthills and around areas where you see ants.
  • They hate the smell of vinegar, and it won't take long for them to move on.
  • Keep the spray bottle handy for outdoor trips and to keep ants away from picnic or play areas.

2. Scatter talcum powder

  • Scatter talcum powder liberally around house foundations and known points of ant entry.
  • Other effective organic repellents include cream of tartar, borax, powdered sulphur and oil of cloves.

3. Plant mint

  • Plant mint around the foundation of your house.

Besides keeping ants away, the mint leaves can be brewed into delicious caffeine-free tea.

4. Make a hot chile concoction

A mash of hot chiles and water will keep ants away.

  • You can make another repellent by pureeing a few orange peels and a cup of warm water in the blender.
  • Pour it directly into an anthill early in the morning.

5. Use boric acid

Boric acid mixed with sugar is an effective ant poison, but only in gardens with no children or pets.

  • Spread it on a piece of wood or stone near the nest, then cover it to protect it from rain. The foraging ants will love it and take some of the poison back to their nests.

6. Get rid of the colony

  • To get rid of a colony, first plug the drainage hole of a large flowerpot with a cork or tightly wadded plastic wrap, then place the pot upside down over the anthill.
  • Heat a tea kettle of water to boiling and flood the surrounding soil.
  • While you heat a second kettle of water, ants will seek shelter in the overturned pot. Quickly turn it upright and fill it with boiling water.

7. Create an ant barrier

Create an ant barrier around plants, on front steps and between garden rows with a sprinkling of agricultural lime, bonemeal or powdered charcoal.

8. Remove ants from your path

  • If ants are swarming your garden path, add 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) of ground black pepper (or any other strong-smelling ground spice, such as cloves or dry mustard) to 200 to 250 grams (one cup) of sifted white flour and sprinkle the mixture on and around the pests. They'll vanish within the hour.
  • Sweep the dry mix into the garden or yard instead of trying to hose it off; water will just make it gooey.

9. Control ants indoors

Inside the house, safely repel ants by sprinkling pennyroyal, camphor, clove oil, tansy, spearmint or broken eggshells on a few dishes, then place them in closets and on shelves.

10. Create an ant trap

  • Wrap bands of paper coated with non-drying glue around the bases of fruit trees to prevent ants from reaching the fruit.
  • An easy way is to fold a sheet of adhesive paper, such as the kind of liner used on shelving, in half with the sticky side exposed.
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