Ants are fascinating creatures that are able to create complex societies that are spread all over the world. Yet, they can be a nightmare for all gardeners. Especially during the summer months, you can expect ants to travel through your garden or even get inside your house and search for some sweet food.
Usually, they mind their own business, but they can start interfering with your everyday life or even start destroying plants. When they enter your house, they can make a big mess in the area. If you have allergies, or even without them, an ant’s bite can be painful.
If you want to get rid of ants from your garden, but you want to keep your precious plants alive, keep reading. Here are the best, bullet-proof methods on how to help the ant issue in your garden.
Table of Contents
- What Do Ants Do in Your Garden?
- What Is an Ant Colony?
- 8 Methods of Getting Rid of Ants in a Garden
What Do Ants Do in Your Garden?
Before getting rid of your ants, you have most probably thought that those little animals can be beneficial to your garden. It is true in some cases.
Ants are natural predators to many other insects that live in your garden and can be dangerous to your plants. These insects can also aid in pollination by bringing pollen on their bodies from one place to another.
Yet, ants might be very dangerous for your garden. It is because they like to build their nests around the roots of plants. That can slow down or even stop a plant’s growth. It also makes flowers and vegetables more vulnerable to disease.
They eat aphids that can be very destructive for plants such as tomatoes. However, they sometimes work the other way around. Aphids can extract honeydew from plants, and ants love it.
When that happens, they can protect aphids from other predators. This way they get a certain food source. When the population of aphids grows and spreads around, even your whole garden can be destroyed.
What Is an Ant Colony?
An ant colony is often called an ant society because it includes thousands of individuals that have the leadership of one queen. They also have a hierarchy over other members of this thrilling society.
Workers, soldiers, and drones play an important role in creating powerful underground structures. Each ant has its unique role, and this is why everything in the ant nest works so well.
Something that from a human’s perspective looks like a hole in the ground has an impressive, massive structure. The complex ant nests have farming rooms, nursery rooms, unique ‘pantries’ to store gathered food, and tunnels that create a ventilation system.
What you see on the surface of your garden is just the tip of the iceberg. An abandoned nest discovered in Brazil had an impressive area of 500 square feet and reached 26 feet inside the ground.
It is rather impossible that the nest in your garden is not that big, yet it gives a great idea about how an ant nest looks.
8 Methods of Getting Rid of Ants in a Garden
When you want to eliminate ants from your area without damage to your plants, you should reach for natural methods. It’s especially important if you want to get rid of ants from a vegetable garden. Chemicals that you put into the soil can easily get into your organism through food, causing serious health issues, even cancer.
Some of the most effective natural methods are:
1. Boiling Water
You have to find as many nest entrances as possible and pour hot water inside. Perhaps you are going to need to repeat it a few times.
However, if the nest is located very close to plants, boiling water might destroy the vegetation. Instead, you can use cold water. It is not going to kill the ants but make the area wet. That’s going to chase the pests away.
2. A Mix of Dishwashing Liquid and Oil
Perhaps you have already heard about a lot of magical features of dishwashing liquid. You can also use it in your garden. The mix of liquid and oil soaks into ants and suffocates them.
Prepare 1 quart of water and add half a teaspoon of dish soap and the same amount of cooking oil, for example, olive oil. Stir it and when it’s mixed together, pour the mixture into a spray bottle. First, spray the outside and then pour the rest inside the nest.
3. Use Boric Acid and Sugar
This is one of the most common and the most effective natural methods of getting rid of ants. You have to mix sugar and boric acid until it becomes a paste. Then spread it around the nest.
Ants are going to think it’s food and eat it. They are also going to bring some to their nest, to feed the queen. While sugar is a delicacy for them, boric acid is very toxic.
4. Call Ants’ Natural Enemy
Nematodes are microscopic worms that can hunt and eat ants. When the colony of ants notices the trouble around, they are going to leave your garden and search for a better place for their nest.
5. Reach for White Vinegar
Vinegar is a natural and cheap way to get rid of ants without destroying plants. Simply pour one liter directly into their nest. It’s going to kill the ants rapidly.
6. Drop Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
It is a dehydration powder that is made from algae. Be sure that you pick a food-grade DE, so you can be calm about the state of your plants.
You have to spread DE around the plants. It’s going to dehydrate the soil. It’s a very effective method but it might take a while: the wetter the area is the longer DE needs.
7. Plant More Plants
There are various plants that are natural insect-repellents. Add some to your garden to get rid of the ant problem. Especially effective are those that contain essential oils.
8. Say Goodbye to Ants in a Nice Way
If you don’t want to kill those little creatures, you can get rid of them in a more subtle way. Put cinnamon around your plants and the ants are going to avoid it.
With so many methods to choose from, you are going to find the best way to get rid of ants without risking the life of your plants. Choosing a more natural method is great for the environment, as you don’t add chemicals to the earth.
It’s also a crucial choice when you want to get rid of ants from your vegetables. As you are going to eat them later, you don’t want any toxic substances to be stored in them.