Ants play an important role in gardens, helping to pollinate flowers and even controlling some other pests. At times, though, their infestations can reach critical levels and begin to cause problems. When this happens it's important to find ways to get rid of the nuisance insects.
One of the benefits to treating an ant infestation is that many options exist that don't involve harsh chemicals or insecticides. Often you can use items commonly found in a home and garden.
1. Boric acid and sugar mixture
One of the most commonly used DIY ant treatments is a mixture of boric acid and sugar. Orkin notes that getting the mixture with the right amount of boric acid is critical; too much and the ants could die before taking it back to the queen, and too little and the mixture could be ineffective.
2. Pipe tobacco tea
Soak pipe tobacco in water overnight, and strain the "tea" that is created, being careful to avoid getting it on your skin. Discard the tobacco leaves and pour the tea on ant hills or along ant trails in place of insecticides.
3. Baby powder
Create a firewall of sorts in the garden by creating a barrier of baby powder around plants. This will help to overpower scent trails, and the ants won't be able to cross it if it's high enough.
A cheap and easy solution, cornmeal is often sprinkled around places were ants are known to congregate. Although they are incredibly attracted to the smell, once ingested, the cornmeal cannot be broken down and the ants slowly starve. Keep in mind that this method takes time to work effectively.
5. Diluted vinegar spray
The low pH of vinegar is thought to be harmful to ants. By mixing a 1:1 dilution of vinegar and water, you can create a natural insecticide to spray around plants. BAvoid getting it on veggie plantsas the mixture could damage leaves if too strong.
6. Food grade diatomaceous earth
Gardening Channel explains that diatomaceous earth is a fine powder created from the crushed shells of diatoms.Although it seems benign, the particles have incredibly sharp edges that penetrate an ant's body, causing it to perish from dehydration.
7. Sprinkle cinnamon or cayenne pepper
Even though using cinnamon or cayenne pepper in the garden won't kill ants already present, it will help to deter them. Sprinkle a heavy line of either of these spices around the perimeter of the planting space to keep ants from crossing the barrier.
8. Manage aphids
A key aspect to keeping ants out of a garden is to diminish the food source that normally draws them in. Aphids are small garden insects that create a "honeydew" that forms from sucking the sap of plants. If the honeydew isn't present for the ants to snack on, they will be more inclined to look for a new place of residence.