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Garden Ants... How to get rid of? — The Grow Network Community

Garden Ants... How to get rid of?

Hope this question is in the right place. I have a small three tiered garden I put together last summer. I went to plant a couple sweet bell pepper plants and the top tier is teaming with ants. I put a layer of diatomaceous earth down, and then mixed up some honey and borax and set a small amount in the corner. Neither seemed to do much. As soon as I break through the dirt they stream out. I've put another layer of DE down and some more honey/borax out, but I don't have much hope. We've got three more days of rain coming, so it will wash out anything I've put down. I hate not being able to use one third of my small garden area. :(


  • H_DH_D Posts: 391 ✭✭✭

    ants actually have a purpose in our gardens..they aerate the soil and help move oxygen and water through..they are natural pest control as well for specific pests. with that said

    have you tried..

    sprinkling some ground cinnamon or cayenne? Honey may not be strong enough as a "sugar" for the need. Have you tried placing Tansey or Bay Laurel in your garden (it will also attract ladybugs and the like) on that note I am sure essential oils will also do the same trick.

    Is it possible the ants are doing there job and there are other pests around like aphids??

  • schaeffersj7schaeffersj7 Posts: 1 ✭✭✭

    I have been using sugar to get rid of fire ants. I buy the biggest bag of white sugar that Costcot sells. When I see a fire ant mound I sprinkle a handful of sugar and in a day or two they are gone. It only works during the time they are feeding,. not when dormant in the winter. I don't know i it kills them or drives them away but they are gone. Sometimes I put sugar in my fert. spreader and cover the whole yard.

  • MelissaMelissa Posts: 4 ✭✭✭

    Thanks Heather, I'll try some cinnamon or cayenne. I removed all the dead plants in the fall, so I didn't find the ants until I went to check the moisture before planting just a few days ago. I didn't see any in the lower two tiers while I was planting. Did find some worms in the lowest tier, thought that was good. The ants only appear to be in one side of the top tier, but I hesitate to plant my pepper plants for fear of the ants.

    Thanks Schaeffer, if the cinnamon/cayenne doesn't work I'll try sugar. :)

  • GrammyprepperGrammyprepper Posts: 121 ✭✭✭

    Hey, @Melissa try putting earthworms into the other tiers of your planter! When I find random worms, I always rehome them in my container plants. IDK if that will help with the ants, but it will surely help your plants.

  • MelissaMelissa Posts: 4 ✭✭✭

    Okay Grammyprepper, I just had to internet search ants and worms, LOL! Looks like the ants -probably- won’t hurt my worms. I should see if I can transplant a few to the top tier and go ahead and plant the pepper plants.

  • LaurieLaurie Posts: 663 ✭✭✭✭

    We found that sugar/honey with borax did nothing. We mixed it with water alone, and that worked.

    I think that I also remember reading something about rhubarb tea made with the leaves. Of course, this is not to go on top of edibles and NOT to consume. Spray or pour use only.

  • map2healthmap2health Posts: 2

    @Melissa. I know how invasive ants can be. I live in the southern hemisphere, my garden has barely survived a heavy drought last year that put us onto very strict water usage. We have placed all kinds of water saving features in our garden now including water tanks from our gutter run off and DIY catchment pipes from all our drainpipes. During this time we were infested with ants. They were probably desperate for water too. But they brought aphids and all kinds of trouble along with them. (eating up our grouting under our outdoor patio tiles!). Whilst I tried to encourage them to mutually beneficial areas, I didn't want them near my tiny fledgling lemon tree, my new grape vine and my two potted Blueberry bushes that I was watering every day with my rationed shower water run-off. I remembered Neem oil and looking it up on this network (I think?) I found that it was a perfect, non invasive solution. Mixed with a soapy solution and sprayed liberally on all areas they loved to congregate around my plants and bases of my pots has definitely worked.

    By the way..I also came across an article that stated diatomaceous earth is not at all good to use in the garden or to use medicinally either. I will try to find the article. Anyone else come across this?

  • MelissaMelissa Posts: 4 ✭✭✭

    The article about diatomaceous earth would be interesting. It didn’t seem real helpful when I tried it. If you are able to find the article, I’d be interested in reading it.

  • cre8tiv369cre8tiv369 Posts: 58 ✭✭

    Ants love mounds, and a 3 tier planter is a mound. I always have a few mounds around my property near areas I don’t want ants and the ants always settle in the mounds (they are ant magnets and the ants always go for the mounds). When they do, I dig up the mounds and liberally powder the swarming ants with diatomaceous earth (the DE has to be dry to work, it scrapes off their wax coating and they dehydrate as a result). I load the ant swarming dirt into a wheelbarrow and cart it away and spread it around, scattering it around is important (the DE is a direct attack and a scattered ant colony no longer functions as a collective and dies). Then I get some fresh dirt and build a replacement mound near the location of the one I just destroyed. A pile of wood chips can act like a mound, but the main colony will be in the dirt under the wood chip pile, and that is a pain to dig out, so be careful not to ignore a pile of any debris as it can attract an ant colony. Manipulating ants by giving them mounds makes it easy to spot them and deal with them if and when they get too close to a house or garden. Pests are best controlled when you can use their nature against them or to direct them in a way that suits your desires. I would take apart your three tier planter and dig out the colony this fall/winter and then rebuild your planter. Raised beds can be seen as mounds to ants as well, but a proper mound (taller) nearby will usually draw them to it, and away from the raised beds. Good luck.

  • kbmbillups1kbmbillups1 Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    I had really bad ants in my garden this year. This worked really well for me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoCtrhK7WlE They say the key is the right ratio of sugar to borax. I made 4 bowls in those tiny Ziplock container and put them in my beds where the ants were taking over. The next morning I was surprised at the amount of ants in the bowls. Within a few days my ant problem was under control.

  • Leslie CarlLeslie Carl Posts: 180 ✭✭✭

    We use boiling water. Enough to soak the whole mound. The boiling hot water kills them on contact.

  • HassenaHassena Posts: 86 ✭✭✭

    We've used essential oils to make the ants move away from areas we like to be in often. Like our home/kitchen. Making a spray of the oils remove their scent trail. We like wintergreen best as it's supposed to make ticks move out.

    lets see....we pee on ant mounds, use boiling water and pretty sometimes i dig up their mounds. Unless they are biting me or in our home I let them be.

    best of luck. Some ants are really bitey and that stinks.

  • LexieLexie Posts: 23 ✭✭✭

    I found a recipe online (that I can’t seem to locate now) that had me soak garlic in water for a couple days and remove the garlic, add cinnamon, a drop of soap, cayenne pepper, and (I think) lemongrass essential oil. I will look for it because it works. I made up a gallon and use it a lot. It sure stinks though!


  • seeker.nancyseeker.nancy Posts: 197 ✭✭✭

    @Lexie I would love to try that, thank you!

  • Leslie CarlLeslie Carl Posts: 180 ✭✭✭

    @Melissa & @seeker.nancy I just read that beneficial nematodes will eat ants but will not harm your plants. So if you introduce these nematodes into your garden bed, the ants will vacate or die.

    We sprayed nematodes on our garden last year, in an attempt to rid ourselves of the japanese beetle grub population, which actually worked quite well. But I didn't realize that they were good for getting rid of ants as well. We have a large nest in our strawberry patch, which didn't get the nematode treatment before, that I'll have to try that on. I was afraid to use boiling water for fear of killing the berry plants as well. This would be a safer solution. Maybe it can help you too!

  • seeker.nancyseeker.nancy Posts: 197 ✭✭✭

    @Leslie Carl does that have to be done at a certain time of the year or temperature dependant? I was going to try that but the prices I saw last year were out of my budget. Maybe I'll get that done this year lol. Thank you!

  • Leslie CarlLeslie Carl Posts: 180 ✭✭✭

    @seeker.nancy Yes, they should be applied in early spring or early fall, when the temperature is 55F. The soil cannot be dry, so either water it good and deep or apply them after a good soaking rain (best). Make sure you don't expose them to sunlight. So, the best time to do this activity is in the late hours of evening or in the wee hours of the morning. I chose the evening so that the ground would stay wetter longer. Make sure you spray more water on the soil, so that these friendly worms swim their way into finding their food, the insect larvae.

  • seeker.nancyseeker.nancy Posts: 197 ✭✭✭

    @Leslie Carl awesome, thank you!

  • Leslie CarlLeslie Carl Posts: 180 ✭✭✭

    @seeker.nancy you are very welcome! Also, I believe you can apply the nematodes on a cloudy day as well. The instructions come with them when you purchase.

  • Leslie CarlLeslie Carl Posts: 180 ✭✭✭

    @seeker.nancy I just found a link that explains how to use the nematodes for ants: https://www.marshalls-seeds.co.uk/how-to-apply-ant-nest-nematodes-ggid50.html.

    You can find more info at this link: https://www.arbico-organics.com/category/beneficial-nematodes-faqs.

    Here's where you can buy the right strain of nematodes for killing ants (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora): https://www.arbico-organics.com/product/nemaseek-beneficial-nematodes-hb-heterorhabditis-bacteriophora/beneficial-nematodes-faqs.

    Hope this helps :)

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