Ants are a pest no matter where you find them, but they’re especially annoying when they’re inhabiting your garden soil. There are many types of ants, some more destructive than others. Most are very active in summer, and they love gardens because there is an endless supply of food for them to eat.
Table of Contents
- Why Do You Need to Get Rid of Ants?
- Are There any Benefits to Having Ants in Your Garden?
- How to Get Rid of Ants in the Garden Soil
- What Do You Do After Eliminating Ants?
- Final Words
Why Do You Need to Get Rid of Ants?
When you see ants, there are likely other pests around. Many garden pests, like aphids, mealybugs, and scale create sweet secretions, which attract ants. Ants usually protect these bugs as they enjoy the sweetness.
Ants multiply fast. So, what starts as a minor invasion will soon be a much bigger problem.
Are There any Benefits to Having Ants in Your Garden?
While the downsides to ants in the garden drastically outweigh the benefits, there are some reasons you might want to consider letting the ants stick around.
- They aerate the soil. Ants build massive tunnel systems underground that carry much-needed water, air, and nutrients to your plants’ roots.
- They’re pollinators.
- They can kill other damaging pests, like caterpillars.
- They don’t harm crops as much as other garden invaders.
- They help organic matter decompose, helping to fertilize the garden.
How to Get Rid of Ants in the Garden Soil
There are many ways to get rid of ants in the garden soil. Some are easy and natural while others are a little more of an investment. Which one will work best for you boils down to how bad of an infestation you’re dealing with and whether or not you want to stick with something natural.
Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants
Find the queen
This method is effective, but it requires a lot of patience and you have to be willing to get your hands dirty.
Observe the ants as they search for food and figure out where the nest is. Then, dig up the nest to find the queen. Once you remove the queen, the rest of the nest will follow.
Attract or add natural predators
Nematodes are natural predators of ants. They’re small roundworms that destroy ants. Depending on the size of the infestation, this can be a quick and natural fix.
Birds will also eat ants. Attract birds to your garden by hanging bird feeders throughout the garden.
Make a spray with water and orange or lemon peel and spray it on the ants. The best thing about this method is that it is completely natural and safe for your plants, but it quickly strips away the hard coating on the ants’ bodies, leading to a quick death.
Diatomaceous earth is a completely natural product made from crushed shells of hard-shelled algae called diatoms. This fine powder has sharp edges that make small cuts in the ants’ bodies, causing them to slowly dehydrate over a few weeks.
Cinnamon is a great way to repel ants, though it does not kill them. Ants are attracted to sweet things and tend to shy away from cinnamon. This method is best for small infestations or as a preventive measure.
Boil a big pot of water, then dump it directly on the anthill. It will instantly kill any ants in the mound.
Chemical Ways to Get Rid of Ants
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that’s widely available in grocery stores and online. Take a few packets of artificial sweetener and sprinkle it in and around the anthill. Aspartame is toxic to ants and causes confusion which will eventually lead to their death.
Dish soap and water spray
This treatment is a common one for many insect infestations and one you may have used on your houseplants. Mix dish soap and water in a spray bottle and spray it on the plants where you notice ants. Just be sure not to spray on hot, sunny days as it can damage the plant leaves.
Use chemical pesticide
If you tried other methods and were unsuccessful, try a chemical pesticide. But not just any chemical pesticide. For ants, avoid liquids and go with a gel. Sprays will kill the ants on contact, but to really get an infestation under control, you have to get the pesticide into the nest.
Gels are sweet-smelling. They attract the ants that will then take the gel back to the nest, killing all of the ants at the source.
Mix borax with sugar in a 4:1 ratio to entice the ants to eat it. Then, add hot water and apply it to the path that the ants typically take. Or, add borax to honey and put it somewhere where the ants will eat it. It may take a few days, but the borax will eventually kill any ant that eats it.
If you aren’t sure where the ants are coming from, use a piece of food to bait them, luring them to a location about a foot or so away from the garden. After a few hours, a swarm of ants should surround the food. Then, spray them with insecticide.
This method will not do anything to kill the ants in the nest, but if you repeat the process once a week, you will drastically cut down on the number of ants in your garden, eventually eliminating all of them.
You can use the same traps that you would put around your house to take care of ants in the garden. The best way to do this is to find where the ants are entering the garden and put the traps in the way to entice them.
Traps are filled with sweet-smelling attractants, luring the ants in to eat the insecticide. This method may not be the best for taking on a huge infestation, but it is a good way to prevent them from happening in the first place. Replace the traps every month or more often during the summer.
What Do You Do After Eliminating Ants?
After you clear your garden of an ant infestation, you must assess the situation to determine whether you need to replace the soil. If your garden is small or if you had a large infestation, it might be better to just go ahead and replace the soil.
With any infestation, there’s a good chance that the ants left some eggs behind that will soon hatch, starting your problems all over again. By completely replacing the soil, you get rid of any unhatched eggs, ensuring that you don’t have another infestation.
Be sure to use high-quality soil as a replacement, and if you’re worried about it being contaminated with eggs, sterilize it first. There are many ways to sterilize the soil, far too many to cover here, but if you are worried about introducing eggs to the new soil, it’s your best bet.
If you’ve ever had ants in your home, you know that they can be quite difficult to get rid of. The same is true when you have ants in your garden.
The good news is that there are many methods you can try to get rid of ants in the garden soil. Whether you’re looking for something natural or a fast and easy chemical fix, we covered some of the most effective options out there.