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Garden Ant Control

Ants, they are everywhere.... in the house, in the lawn, and in your garden. They are found on every continent, except Antarctica. Being a gardening website, we will focus upon controlling ants in the garden. But, you may find that some of the organic controls are effective around the home, too.

As gardeners, we worry about all kinds of ants in our plants. Carpenter ants, which chew wood, are of most concern to homeowners. Campers and hikers are most concerned with fire ants, as they bite. 

While, ants really cause anxiety among gardeners, most species are not harmful to plants. They are in and on plants in search of nectar from the flowers. The leaf miner ant, is one of the few that actually harm vegetation. Ants can also be beneficial, acting as pollinators, as they go from flower to flower.

Ants are social creatures, living together in colonies. The entryway to an ant colony, are telltale ant hills. A colony consists of worker ants, males, and the queen.

A Little Ant Trivia:

  • There are over 12,000 species
  • An ant can lift 50 times its weight.
  • In some cultures, ants are eaten as a delicacy, among them are China, and Australian Aborigines.
  • Chocolate covered ants is a sweet delicacy to some.
  • Ants are found all over the world.... no surprise here.
  • Ants are more active, and multiply quicker, during wet periods.
  • In terms of proportionate size, an ant has the largest brain of any animal or insect.
  • Flying Ants- Only the males have wings and fly. Their sole purpose is to mate with the queen.
  • They have one of the longest life spans in the insect world. Depending upon species, the queen can live up to 20 years. Worker ants can live 4-5 years. (most species live just 45-60 days)
  • Don't try to drown an ant. They can live up to two weeks underwater.
  • On occasion, they will eat....each other.
  • Ants smell things through their antenna.
  • If you weighed all the ants in the world, they weigh more than all the humans in the world.

How to Control Ants - Chemicals

There are a wide variety of chemical sprays that are very effective. Perhaps the best known to homeowners is Ortho's Home Defense, which can be used indoors or out. Indoors, homeowners also use ant traps or ant buttons. The ants take the bait from the trap and bring it back to the nest, hopefully feeding it to the queen.

Chemical lawn insect controls are effective against a wide variety of insects, including ants.

Most chemical garden insect controls are also effective.

Looking for a more environmentally safe ant deterrent?

Cornmeal is an organically effective ant control

Cinnamon is another organic natural ant control. It will not kill the ants, but they will avoid it, or go around it. Cinnamon oil works best. Try it in your kitchen pantry and cupboards.

Organic Ant Control Methods

Chemical controls may be okay for the home, yard or even the flower garden. But, vegetable gardeners usually prefer to keep the chemicals out of the food they ultimately eat.

Here are some organic controls for garden ants:

  • Check for the presence of aphids. Ants are attracted to the sweet secretions of aphids.

  • Apply diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of the garden to repel them

  • Mix 1 part sugar and one part borax together. Sprinkle it around. They digest the borax and die, often bringing it back to the nest.

  • Sprinkle cornmeal, They digest it and die.

  • Mix 3 parts vinegar and one part water. Spray it on and around plants to repel ants.

  • Tansy and mint repels ants. Grow these plants, or mix it in a spray.

  • Sprinkle Epsom salts or mix in a spray.

  • Baby powder repels them.

  • Coffee grounds is a natural ant repellent.

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