We each create gardens for different reasons. For some, it’s a pure love of growing plants and flowers. For others, it’s about creating beautiful outdoor spaces live in.
If all you are about is growing plants and flower then let’s be clear. Ants are your friends. They work hard tunneling through the soil and redistribute nutrients. They kill aphids and generally ants are a real positive force in your garden.
Yet, your garden is an outdoor space where you like to sit and enjoy the fruits of your creation. And, if you’re anything like me, nothing kills your enjoyment more than ants crawling over you!
So you want to find a way to get rid of ants. And, of course, natural methods are always best where possible. This post is all about how you can eliminate ants from your garden or home or at the very least get them to go where you want.
Ants In The Garden
I don’t recommend seeking to eradicate ants from your garden altogether. There are enough real pests in the garden to contend with. Ants bring lots of benefits and it’s not worth waging war on your friends.
But you can reduce their numbers by pouring boiling hot water on their nests. This technique will help you control population numbers.
The following section teaches you how to stop ants going to places where you don’t want them. There are techniques you can use to stop them crawling on patio areas or into your home.
This way you can have it both ways. You have the benefits of ants working in your garden to improve the ecosystem. And yet limit their ability to go places where you don’t want them to go!
Controlling Ant Movements
Ants don’t pose the health hazard that other pests can. But using toxic pesticides to eradicate them can cause serious health issues.
According to the EPA, a startling 80% of a person’s exposure to pesticides happens inside the home. So the EPA recommends using nonchemical methods of pest control whenever possible. There are lots of effective natural methods for ridding your home of all manner of ants.
There are three broad categories of natural ant control — repellents, barriers, and baits.
- Repellents – Scents that smell fresh to humans, like mint, citrus, and clove, are downright offensive to ants. Good news for us! They make excellent repellents!
- Barriers – You can use barriers, such as caulk, to close up obvious entry areas. Barriers can also include substances that abrade an insect’s exoskeleton. Imagine something abrading your own skeleton! That’s gonna hurt! And you’re gonna think twice about going there.
- Baits – You can use both cornmeal and grits can as ant bait and can kill entire ant colonies.
Make Your Own Nontoxic Ant Repellent Spray
You can use aromatic essential oils to concoct a nontoxic ant repellent.
The three oils that seem to work best are peppermint, clove and tea tree oil.
Or you can also use lemon or orange essential oils in the same manner.
Mix 20 drops of each with a half cup of purified water in a spray bottle and shake well.
Spray baseboards, window sills, counter tops and anywhere else you see ants. Spray outdoor furniture and place you don’t want ants to venture.
You may have to repeat this treatment a few times.
For a more easily blended liquid, you can use ¼ cup purified water and ¼ cup of either white vinegar or vodka.
Or you can make a more affordable spray repellent from citrus peels, water, and white vinegar.
To make this solution:
You can use orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit peels.
Place the peels in a pan and add enough water and vinegar, 50% of each, to cover them.
Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Let the mixture steep overnight.
Voila! You made your own ant repellent!
Planting aromatic herbs around the perimeter of your home can also discourage ants. The added benefit is that other insects and vermin are also put off by the aroma. Any mint plant will do. I’ve found Tansy, Sage, and Pennyroyal to be effective repellents.
Your house is your last line of defense.
Creating a barrier to an ant army could be as simple as re-caulking a window. Or it could be repairing a crack in your home’s foundation. If ants are getting into your home you need to figure out where they are coming from.
Follow ant trails to determine where they are entering your home. And block both the inside and outside entry points if possible.
In some cases, blocking every possible ant entry point can be daunting.. You can stop ants in their tracks by sprinkling coffee grounds or diatomaceous earth. You can try this trick both inside and outside of your home or around your patio area. Both the jagged shape and the acid content of coffee grounds causes damage to an ant’s exoskeleton.
Diatomaceous earth also dehydrates ants aby absorbing the lipids on their exoskeletons. It’s crucial to use food grade diatomaceous earth. Lesser grades can cause health issues, particularly if inhaled.
As for baiting… There is some debate about the efficacy of baiting ants with cornmeal or grits, the method does seem to work. To try this leave cornmeal or grits anywhere that ants are present, indoors or outdoors. The ants eat the cornmeal but it’s it’s not something they should eat and it kills them.
Clean Up After Yourself
I knew there was a reason my mother was always complaining to me about crumbs!
Ants don’t invade our homes at random. They love the food and water that we so graciously offer them so don’t leave any lying about. Keeping the kitchen clean will help. So will taking the garbage out every day and keeping sugary foods in sealed containers. Cleanliness will go a long way in preventing an ant infestation in the first place.
If you find yourself overrun with these unwanted guests you now have some ideas. The above methods of ant eradication are safe, effective, and natural. Let us know what you have tried and how these methods worked for you.