Organic control of ants

canadianplantJuly 16, 2013

This year is a bad year for aphids all over town. That also means the ant population goes up, which in turn bakes the aphid infestation worse. I am trying my hardest not to use chemicals, or at least harsh chemicals in my yard.

I know worse comes to worse, you can get the food traps that kill the nests, but again, i dont like the though of using any poison around my food, or yard in general. I also dont want to harm any beneficials or animals that would come into contact with the traps, soil or ants that may be lying around.

I have so far used soapy water on the trees that have the aphids and ants, and it seems to be stoping them from getting worse but they are also starting to spread. Even worse, i have not seen a single lady bug this year at all.

Anyone have any advice?


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If It is the tree you are trying to protect, a simple solution is a band paper around the trunk smeared with tanglefoot.

So long as they have no other route into the tree it works quite well.

I have heard duct tape inside out works too but have not tried it.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 11:39AM
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Lots of ants and aphids around my area this year also, and no lady's, not sure where they all are. I had a lot of lacewings last year that helped I think but again, none this year. The city sprays for mosquitoes and I think it kills a lot of the beneficials also, like bees. Anyway you can take cheap masking/paper tape and wrap your trunk with the sticky side out and it will slow them down, when tree grows it will break, if you use plastic tape it can eventually girdle the tree. Got to replace the tape occasionally as the stickiness goes away.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 11:39AM
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Thederek - I thought the same thing too. We had a wet spring so I would have to assume they would spray more this year then average.

i didnt think about using tape or tanglefoot. wouldnt both of these also trap beneficials?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 11:50AM
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Yes some, but most of your beneficials are flying not crawling into the tree

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 11:52AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

If you go the tanglefoot route make sure there is no alternate path to the tree, e.g. from neighboring tree or fence etc - if there is any small bridge the ants will find it.

The one beneficial I can think of that doesn't fly are spiders, but they can often get from tree to tree by doing that spiderman thing.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 12:14PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Why not use the any traps? They have borax as the chemical that kills the ants, you know the stuff we wash our clothes with? Borax is even used in some toothpastes. It's a natural mineral. So is organic no doubt!
You can buy 20 Mule Team Borax (pure borax) and add sugar or oil, depending on the type of ant. A 5% solution is good, it takes time to kill the ant, and they return to the nest with the substance.
The amount of ignorance in this world never ceases to amaze me.

"The most abundant element in the universe is not hydrogen, it's stupidity" - Frank Zappa

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 4:32PM
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The product I had in mind was the raid ant baits. I cant see borax as the active ingredient in either or. What trap are you thinking of that contain borax?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 5:05PM
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HeyJude2012(10b/24 San Diego)

I just have to say, it's not very nice to throw sarcasm at someone who doesn't know the answer to a problem they have. This person was innocently asking a question.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 5:13PM
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-the loss of civility and the sarcasm of the self righteous is what never ceases to amaze me.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 5:34PM
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I wish I could be as bright as you are, Drew. I certainly am not.

Canadianplant - check out this YouTube. The guy sprayed his banana trees with it, too. I only know about the 50/50 sugar/borax dry mix. The spray mix looks interesting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Borax spray - ant killer

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 7:41PM
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Avocado101(9A Southern California)

Borax may kill ants, but they will come back too soon. An application of Tanglefoot will last several months in deterring ants from climbing up the tree.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 9:44PM
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Borax or else boric acid is often used in bait (mainly for roaches I thought) but it is easy to get toxic amounts of boron in the soil if you are spreading it around more generally Toxic to plants, that is. Of no particular danger to you. There is a fine line between enough and too much for soil boron.

Also, is there a reason not to spray or paint the Tanglefoot right on the bark?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 7:24PM
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alan haigh

Tangle foot directly on young bark can be damaging to the tissue I have found that paper bark rap is a good intermediary. I use vinyl electric tape to hold it tightly to the bark.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 7:53PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

It comes to a point where we should give up on fruit and start using it to attract ants and Japanese beetles. Make a stir fry! Dipped in chocolate if you have a sweet tooth.
Heck they're probably good! Just tell your kids we're having Japanese cusine tonight!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 12:59PM
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I have used tanglefoot applied to a paper wrap around the trunks of my 6 dwarf citrus. It stopped the ant trails going up the tree in a flash. At the end of the fruit season, I remove the paper. It works well.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 1:52AM
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alan haigh

Drew, ants and JB;s are just a small part of the battle to get fruit where I live- ants are rarely a big issue and JB's just a problem on a few sites. JB's usually only require a couple of extra sprays in worse case scenarios.

Every site has it's own set of problems and being a fruit grower is about solving them for the ultimate reward in gardening- tree ripe fruit.

I get better bang for the buck from my orchard than from my "organic" vegetable garden- just not every year.

Got a woodchuck problem in my garden right now- but I'll get it. It hasn't bothered climbing any trees for ripe peaches, apricots or plums, but I think its eating some drops. It's my kale I'll be slaving for when I'm trying to trap this pest.

All gardeners are slaves for their plants until payday.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 9:16AM
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exacty HM

I never saw 3/4 of the bugs i saw until I planted the yard. Found out that my Jostaberry and gooseberry shrubs attract and host a specie of catterpillar each. I have to assume its because they are close to the native Ribes species. The best part is, catterpillars in the 4 years ive been doing things do not touch anything else at all.

This year is the year of the aphid though. They are all over everything, like i stated. I do think the ladybugs are waking up, but it may be too late to put things into balance.

A friend told me about a "yellow tube of antbait that looks like a tube of glue" that you can dab all over the place. Has anyone heard of this? He emulated pretty much the same thing this thread has stated...

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 10:37AM
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