The use of traditional insecticides might kill garden ants, but those chemicals might also get rid of the good insects you want to keep.
Ants serve a useful purpose in some cases as they can keep all kinds of harmful pests under control; however, they can quickly become a nuisance.
They can kill other useful insects in your garden and be damaging to your plants . Besides, they can attract other harmful insects like aphids and take up dwelling in your house.
How to Get Rid of Ants in the Garden Naturally
Most of these remedies use natural and organic ingredients you likely have in your home.
1. Lemon juice
The acidic qualities in lemon juice will mask the natural odors ants love, which makes it hard for them to navigate their surroundings.
Spray lemon juice around your garden beds to throw them off track or leave cotton balls soaked in lemon juice in ant-infested spots.
Cinnamon powder is an easy and effective way to deter the critters from coming into your garden and house. They despise the smell and will avoid coming near it.
Sprinkle cinnamon around plant beds and nursery areas or place the sticks around your plants.
3. Peppermint Oil
Like other strong smells, peppermint interferes with their ability to communicate.
If an ant cannot communicate, it loses track of its surroundings and cannot find its way back to the colony, and will die.
Spray a peppermint oil solution around plants or plant a few peppermint trees nearby.
4. Borax and Sugar
This is a highly sought-after remedy for those seeking how to kill ants in garden soil. Borax is safe for use in the lawn, your home, and around plants but toxic to the critters.
Mix some borax with a bit of sugar or honey.
The sugary scent will attract them and the solution acts as a poison that they will carry back to the colony, wiping it out entirely.
5. Boiling Water
One of the simplest ways to destroy their colony is to pour boiling water directly onto the mound .
Boiling water will also kill the surrounding grass and plants, so try to avoid spilling the water on your crops.
6. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth acts as a natural abrasive to crawling insects. Purchase food-grade as it is safer to use.
Sprinkle it directly onto nests or wherever there is a trail.
Just be careful not to apply it to flower petals (flower beds are fine), especially where bees might land.
7. Cucumber Peels
Another cool method to remove ants from the garden is with the use of cucumber peels.
The critters are naturally averse to the taste of cucumber, especially bitter ones.
Place a few peels around your orchard, replacing them every couple of days until the army disappears.
8. Baking Soda and Powdered Sugar
This is an effective and harmless solution that you can sprinkle on ant nests.
The powdered sugar will lure them, while the baking soda will interfere with their digestive systems, eventually killing them.
The pests will happily eat cornmeal, even though their bodies cannot digest it. Their bodies will swell and they will eventually die as a result.
Sprinkle refined cornmeal in the nests if your garden is overrun with ants.
10. Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds also act as a protective barrier for plants or flower beds, as the scent of coffee prevents ants from following their own scent trail.
The next time you make coffee, sprinkle the remaining grounds around your plant beds.
11. Cream of Wheat
Cream of wheat has a similar effect that cornmeal does. Their bodies cannot digest it and they will die after ingesting it.
Place small pieces of the cereal around areas they’ll likely show up to attract and kill them.
This is not only a simple and effective natural pest control remedy for everyday nuisances, but it is also an effective method for repelling ants.
Spray vinegar directly on the hills. The critters detest the smell of vinegar and will avoid anything that is sprayed with it.
13. Cayenne Pepper
Sprinkle cayenne pepper in the areas where you see them. The strong smell interferes with the ants’ ability to communicate.
This means that they will not be able to find their way home, and that should be the goal.
14. Citrus Peels
The critters are naturally repelled by the smell of citrus.
Allow the peels of oranges, grapefruits, or lemons to dry out for a couple of days, then grind them into a fine powder in your food processor.
Sprinkle the powder around plants to act as a protective barrier.
15. Tea Tree Oil
This is another effective remedy to fix an ant problem.
Simply place a few drops of oil on the trails leading to your farm, and they will avoid that area.
16. Clove Oil
Clove oil is one of the most effective ant control remedies as it kills them on contact.
Make your own natural insecticide by mixing a few drops of clove oil with a quart of water.
Spray the solution on nests or on areas where they will have contact.
17. Bay Leaves
Will bay leaves get rid of ants? Certainly. The strong smell of bay leaves keeps them away but it will not kill them.
Crush and sprinkle a few leaves around and they will not come near.
Use garlic to drive away all kinds of pests and insects, but particularly ants. They do not like the smell and will not go near it.
Just place a couple of raw garlic cloves wherever they are most active.
19. Red Chili Powder
This spicy powder acts as a natural ant killer that will burn or suffocate them.
Sprinkle chili powder around plants or directly onto the hill.
Ants do not like anything dry and powdery.
Sprinkle flour around your vegetable beds or plants and they will keep away from that area.
21. Soap Water
Soap and water mix is one of the most effective control methods, as it suffocates them.
Make a simple solution of equal parts organic liquid soap and baking soda and spread it over any areas where they are getting in.
A sprinkle of table salt on areas frequented by the pests, or on the hills directly, is another effective home remedy.
Consuming salt will cause them to lose water and eventually die of dehydration.
23. Molasses and Orange Oil
This is another of the popular natural home remedies for ants.
While molasses does not kill them directly, it masks the insecticidal properties of other substances like borax.
Combine molasses with borax or baking soda and place a few spoonfuls of the mixture directly onto their hills or trails.
If you do not have the time to make any of the above solutions, available for purchase are organic commercial ant control products such as these:
- Monterey – Contains Spinosad and other insect-repellent ingredients.
- Garlic Barrier AG+ – Strong garlic oil spray that clogs their breathing holes.
- Essentria IC-3 – Essential oil blend that forms a potent insecticide.
- Bonide – Multi-purpose pest control spray that contains neem oil.
Types of Ants
Although there are over 13,000 species , there are three main garden types that you should know about.
Image via Ryan Hodnett | commons.wikimedia.org
Carpenter ants are common garden insects. One nest can contain thousands of them.
They are beneficial as they contribute to the composting of rotten wood.
They can feature different colors — red, black, brown, orange, yellow, or black and red coloration.
Picture via Geoff Gallice/commons.wikimedia.org
Leaf-cutters are large ants that live in crescent-shaped mounds above ground or large underground colonies.
These are bad critters as they attack shrubs, trees, and plants. They range in color from brown to red to black.
Photo via aepma.com.au
You’ll likely find these in your vegetable garden bed and lawn more often than others.
Fire ants are quite large and can inflict painful bites. In some cases, they can cause severe allergic reactions in humans.
They too will attack your crops. Their color ranges from reddish-brown to reddish-black.