Ants are annoying little creatures that crawl on plants, build dirt mounds in the garden, ruin picnics, get into our homes, bite, irritate, and seemingly have to good purpose in life.
But like everything else, ants have a good side and a bad side. In their defense, the presence of ants in the garden lets us know there’s an aphid infestation on the plants. Ants also provide organic pest control by eating pests eggs and disrupting the nests of harmful pests.
However, for all the good ants do, gardeners don’t want them on their plants. Using chemicals is not an option for ridding the garden of ants so try these organic ways to keep ants off plants and your garden healthy.
Get Rid Of Aphids
Aphids are sap-sucking garden pests that leave behind a trail of sugary ‘honey-dew’ that attracts ants. If you get rid of the aphids, along with other sap-sucking pests like mealy bugs and white flies, the ants will leave the plants alone.
Ants ‘farm’ aphids and grow their herd by keeping away predators that would eat the aphids. The ants thrive on the sugary honey-dew secreted by the aphids and the aphid population grows and sucks the life out of plants.
Get rid of the aphids organically
Get rid of the aphids organically by hand-picking them off plants or blasting them off with a water hose. It will be an on-going process during the growing season to keep plants aphid and ant-free. Birds, Lady Bugs, and green lacewings will help you in the fight by eating the aphids.
You can also create an organic pest control spray by mixing 1-tablespoon of vegetable oil, 1-tablespoon of liquid dish soap into a quart of water (0.95 liters). Spray plants, especially the underside of new leaves, with this organic pest control liquid as needed to control aphids.
Neem oil is an effective organic pest control liquid that can safely be used on plants to repel and kill several types of small garden pests.
Sprinkle These Substances
We have certain powdery substances in our kitchen that will help keep ants off plants and not do any harm to the garden.
This is fatal to ants. Sprinkle some around plants (keep it away from plant base) and the ants will be attracted to the powdery sweetness. They will eat it, carry some back to their nest to share with other ants, and they will soon die.
Borax and sugar
These can be sprinkled around plants to organically kill ants and other ground pests. Create a 50/50 mix of borax and sugar (sugar to attract and borax to kill) and sprinkle on the soil around plants. Use with caution – borax is toxic to humans and pets.
Ground cayenne pepper and cinnamon
These substances will repel the ants but not kill them. Sprinkle either around plants. Cayenne pepper and cinnamon are safe for soil and plants, and both will help repel several other garden pests too. Reapply to soil after a rain or watering the garden.
This will dehydrate ants and other garden pests that walk or crawl across it. Diatomaceous earth is finely ground fossilized hard-shelled algae called diatoms. It’s safe for plants, pets, and humans, but fatal to tiny pests. Sprinkle this in ant trails, on nests, and around plants. This organic product will take a few days to work. Reapply after a rain.
Destroy Ant Nests
Destroy all ant nests that you find by pouring boiling water into them. Ants build very strong nests that can withstand flooding, so this organic method may have to be repeated a few times before the ant nest is destroyed.
If plain boiling water seems to be working too slowly, add some white vinegar to it to speed up the process. Create a 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar, get it boiling and pour it down into the ant nest.
If the ant nest is large and well-established, try pouring a quart bottle of white vinegar (0.95 liters) down into the opening of the nest for two days in a row. The vinegar is safe for the soil and this double treatment should kill the queen of the colony and any surviving ants will leave the area.
Certain natural scents repel ants (and other garden pests) and will help keep plants ant-free.
This is a scent that ants hate. Place a few drops of peppermint oil on cotton balls or small pieces of cloth and place around plants.
Plants that have strong scents and natural essential oils
These will repel ants. Plant peppermint, rosemary, lavender, mint, thyme, sage, pennyroyal, and catnip around the perimeter of your garden for beauty, fragrance, food, and to act as a natural ant repellent.