So far, we’ve provided gardeners with humane tips to clear their vegetable gardens of unwanted rabbits, squirrels, and cats. Methods ranged from ultrasonic devices to physical barriers. However, ant infestations are a different beast of a problem. Common garden ants are too small to be restrained by fences and too numerous to be relocated, we’ll help you tackle your ant problem by providing non-toxic, natural methods used successfully by other gardeners.
If you can see the ant hills or ant mounds, pouring boiling water over them several days in a row is a great way to reduce or eliminate ant colonies or ant nests. If you can’t see their hills, read on.
While not the cheapest method, sprinkling ground cinnamon along the perimeter of your garden (or any surface area, for that matter) will repel ants, but not kill them. Create a thick line that will force ants to climb over and watch both red ants and black garden ants refuse to do so. Cinnamon is one of the natural solutions that will also reduce the amount of ants in your compost pile if they are bothersome.
If you scout for deals, you can find 1-lb bulk bags that are inexpensive.
Created from the crushed shells of fossilized diatoms to form a fine powder, this substance actually consists of incredibly sharp edges that will penetrate an ant’s body causing structural damage that leads to death by dehydration within two weeks.
Although incredibly lethal to insects, diatomaceous earth will not harm humans or family pets. Be sure to use 100% food grade diatomaceous earth in your vegetable garden. Prices are reasonable on Amazon.com, with a 5-lb bag at a low price.
Mixture of cornmeal, borax, and honey
Cornmeal is an inexpensive method to reduce (read: not eliminate) these small insects, but will take some time to work. It’s also completely safe for your vegetable crops. You can make a homemade solution of cornmeal and borax (a household chemical compound found in toothpaste or soap) and you’ll see results much more quickly. Borax is extremely lethal to ants when ingested and also harms their outsides.
Add a touch of honey to mask the taste of borax and to attract ants, as they love sweet things. Place the mixture where there is a heavy concentration of ants: you can even leave it in the mixing bowl. Ideally, the sticky substance will be taken back to the ant colony by the worker ants and kill the queen as well as the entire colony.
Use beneficial nematodes
These worms can repel many garden pests including ants, beetles, moths, flies, and fleas. How can a worm do all of this? These microscopic, beneficial insects enter host bodies and excrete bacteria from their digestive tract that prove lethal within 24-48 hours.
However, nematodes can only be applied to garden soil that is between 42-90 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, you should make sure the air temperature is at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Beneficial nematodes can be purchased at nurseries or online. You can find them here.
If you can’t find the source of the colony, you can at least target the ants themselves. Orange Guard is a liquid spray that is a natural ant repellent with no toxic chemicals. It includes only natural ingredients (the main ingredient is orange peel extract, otherwise known as d-Limonene). This product is not harmful to garden soil or the surrounding environment and is EPA-registered. Since all ingredients are food grade, it also won’t damage your crops.
A majority of consumers attest that this product (32 oz) does what it claims, and is one of the most effective methods of dealing with an ant population. Of note, one customer warns that the essential orange oil in d-Limonene is not completely safe for cats, so bear this in mind if you decide to purchase.
Provide strategically placed trap or repellent crops
Scented marigolds typically repel ants, although some gardeners have actually experienced ant attraction. Either way, ants may leave your vegetable crops alone. Other plants that have been suggested to repel ants? Artemisia, catnip, pachypodiums, adeniums, optunias, chrysanthemums, garlic, spearmint/peppermint, and tansy. Plant these around or in your garden to help reduce crop destruction from ants.
What methods do you use?