When I asked our Facebook friends what they’d most like to see a blog about, Kathleen Edwards replied with “Ants!” As far as garden pests go, ants might be some of the most insidious and annoying ones out there, and Roanoke Landscapes regularly deals with ant infestations. For those who, like Kathleen, are struggling with this problem, I’ve researched some possible remedies that you can try for yourself:
Cornmeal is an inexpensive and fast way to make a dent in ant populations. Simply apply a bit of cornmeal around the affected areas and look for results. This could take multiple applications, and, unfortunately, it is not typically potent enough to kill off entire colonies, but, if your ant problem is mild and containable, it can make a big difference.
Water and Vinegar
Water and vinegar is another cheap and effective way to kill off garden ants. Mix equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle and then spritz infested plants. This is a direct treatment, so keep in mind that you can only spray what you can see. For infestations that are happening below the soil, a water and vinegar treatment might not be enough. Try combining this method with others.
Borax and Jelly
This one’s a real ant killer. It’s quick and it works well. All you need to do is mix equal parts borax and something sugary (jelly works just fine) in a bowl and place near the problem area. The ants will quickly eat the sugary jelly, ingest the borax, and die off, giving you back your garden. As an additional plus, some of this mix will also be carried back to the colony’s queen, doing major damage to the entire population.
This may sound far-fetched, but pipe tobacco is an expert ant killer, and it can be used directly on ant mounds. Soak the tobacco in water overnight, making a tea-like substance. Discard the wet tobacco leaves and then pour the remaining liquid on top of any visible mounds to eliminate them.
Plants that attract honeydew producing insects like aphids also attract ants. Ants will stick around to eat the honeydew that gets left behind, and prevention is often the best form of protection. Plants like chrysanthemums, dahlias, hydrangeas, and rockcress can easily attract aphids. However, insects like ladybugs do a great job of killing off aphids (and thus limiting ant populations) so, if you are dead-set on keeping these plants in your garden, you may want to consider having a healthy population of ladybugs around.
Serious ant infestations are always best dealt with by professionals. If you have tried these remedies and still can’t control your infestation, Roanoke Landscapes can help. And, if you have any questions that you want answered on our blog, feel free to let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009303223791