Ants ants everywhere...

wildie(z3 Alberta)June 9, 2007


They are in all 3 flowerbeds and in a few planters. How do I get rid of them, without harming my flowers???

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halaeva(z6 Toronto)

Hi Wildie:

Ants do not like a wet and moist environment.
I water frequently the places where they are and this way I get rid of them successfully.Tey move.
I hope it helps a little.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 7:31PM
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Ditto what Hala said.

I have to be wary of ants - we have a log home and that's one of the things you don't want. I also have a container of Diatomaceous Earth on hand at all times. This product is environmentally friendly and will not harm earthworms, birds, cats, dogs, etc. Use it on the ground or where beneficials and butterflies will not be. It is made of fossilized materials found deep in the earth. Once the ant contacts it, this powder will act as glass and any movement it makes will cut it and begin to dehydrate it. Some ants make it back to the nest where other ants clean them, so they eventually die as well. It can clear a whole colony in a matter of days. I use it along the foundation of the house.

I also create places to attract ants or discover their favourite places. Along some gardens I have rocks. Some gardens are along the side of the house, so if I notice more activity than normal, I take my DE and start lifting the rocks to see where they are. Once I spot the 'nest rock', I powder the area and then place the rock back. In a couple of days, there's nothing.

If I find them in an area where they are not harming anything, I leave them be. Such was the case when I discovered a huge ants' nest in a bag of fall leaves next to the compost pile. Being a good distance away from the house, I left them to chew away and bring those leaves down to little bits. They are wonderful at doing this!

For your pots/planters, try using chalk. They will not, for some reason, cross a chalk line.

They also do not like mint, but be wary about this plant since many mints are invasive.

Ummm, I'm starting to think I know too much about these creatures...

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 8:49PM
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wildie(z3 Alberta)

Thanx for the tips. I have no clue where they are coming from, they are just completely invading all 3 of my flowerbeds this spring. It's even getting to the point I can see the tunnel entry holes in my main flowerbed!
I will head to my local garden nursery and see what kind of ant "repelant" they have, and I'll borrow a piece of my toddlers sidewalk chalk and do some writing around my containers!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 10:21PM
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bonniepunch(USDAz4 AgCanz5a)

Ants in the flowerbeds are not going to harm your flowers - on the contrary, they'll benefit them. (Ants eating the wood of your house, are of course a different story!). They do 'farm' aphids for their honeydew, but that's a relatively minor problem compared to the benefits they provide.

Ants are a for the most part a beneficial insect. Their tunnels help to aerate the soil, and they break down other dead insects and plant matter into organic matter that directly benefits your plants. Ants are nature's garbage men and are a necessary part of any healthy garden. If you want to get rid of them because you have a phobia of them, perhaps you can do some reading about them and learn how they work - I had a horrible phobia of spiders (I have actually been known to faint from seeing them!) and I got over it (mostly) by reading and reading and reading. I still don't like them, but I can now leave them in peace to do their job. Ants are really quite neat once you get to know them, and can provide some entertainment for your children. You can teach your kid(s) how they live and work and maybe he/she will enjoy spending a few lazy afternoons following ant trails :-)

In planters it's possible for ants to damage the finer roots as they excavate tunnels and to remove too much soil, however this is rarely a problem. I garden exclusively in containers and I have done so for 16 years. I currently have over a couple of hundred pots and over the years I must have cared for thousands upon thousands of pots - only twice have I had ants damage a plant's roots to such an extent that I had to evict them from the pot. And I have lots of ants.

Diatomaceous earth, as tiffy suggested, is a safe and fairly effective way to keep them out of areas that you want to protect. In my area, Canadian Tire and Home Depot don't tend to carry it. I can find it at dedicated nurseries and at pool supply stores (it's part of the filtration system). The sidewalk chalk remedy is unfortunately mostly an urban legend. There was/is special pesticide or insect chalk that one can buy for this purpose, however it was manufactured and imported from China and it contains extremely dangerous pesticides that are banned in Canada and the US. With a toddler around you would especially want to avoid any "insect chalk" like the plague - apparently it resembles your kid's sidewalk chalk and could easily be confused. Over the past twenty years or so, it has resulted in hundreds of child poisoning cases in the US (no fatalities that I have read about - one stick has enough poison to kill a child, but it causes vomiting first). If you find it for sale, DO NOT buy it.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 11:57AM
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Those insect chalk contain arsenic - of course that can lead to illness and so avoid it. Add lots of compost to your garden bed each year. Water well and keep the beds moist. That will drive out the ants - only to drive them were? There are products out there that the ants ingest and take back to feed their colonies with which eventually kill them off. Find that product and see if it helps.

Diatomaceous earth are microfossils. Safe but do use it with a mask. You don't want to breath these in and cause lung irritations.

Ants don't like chives - although it's not a complete deterrant.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 11:04AM
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wildie(z3 Alberta)

thanx for all the tips, a friend just asked me yesterday if they had some red on their backs and I said yes. She said to get rid of them b/c they bite and my toddler reacts so badly to any bite I really want to!
I thought about it we had a fence put up a couple wks ago so more likely than not we disturbed the nest and they found my beds the easiest places to go. I will look for the food they carry back to the nest and kills everyone. Anyone know the actual name of it so I don't look completely stupid when I go into the garden center? LOL

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 12:04PM
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I use power tide detergent . just sprinkle on the ant hills works like a charm.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 11:12PM
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wildie(z3 Alberta)

There doesn't seem to be any noticable hills yet?
The lady I spoke to from our local nursery said that they are terrible right now, everyone's flowerbeds are being invaded. She recommended putting compost in, and watering the bed atleast twice a day. So on Friday I'll pick up 4 more bags (I've used 2 already this year but only in the back...) of compost and this wknd I'll work it in!
She also told me that if I find a hill, go out when it's raining with a kettle of boiling water and pour it over. Said those that don't get burnt to death will leave, and not stay within a 2 day march of the last hill.
I got bit by these nasty things on my elbow 2 nights ago, and a few times on my ankles (crawling around digging out dandilions) and they still hurt. Thankgoodness for benydril cream!!!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 6:05PM
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One thing I know about ants. They can survive under water for prolonged periods but they do hate moisture.

Just out of curiosity - what has been your weather like in the past couple of months. Was it drier or wetter than usual? Certain conditions encourages insect population explosion and I'm very curious as to what triggered this one.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 9:58AM
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wildie(z3 Alberta)

It was moist in March/April, with cooler than normal temps, May was HOT and minimal rain, I was watering my beds/containers atleast twice a day. Plus the last wk we had a fence built along the side of the house and the backyard.
June so far has been hot some of the time but in the last wk we've had some rain, Mostly afternoon/evening thunderstorms. Plus a huge dump of rain where we got almost the entire mths worth of rain in about 4-6hrs just over a wk & 1/2 ago.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 11:28AM
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The reason I inquired is because ants are observed to gathering in huge numbers when they expect rain. They are tiny enough that they can sense more humidity in the air. And so they are in food gathering mode - preparing for a deluge?

On another note, climate changes will affect insect population. Perhaps in the case of good rainfall, more plants come up and produce more food for the ants, hence the explosion. -- Just a theory.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 10:34AM
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wildie(z3 Alberta)

It is raining up a flood here, with no hint of stopping b4 Thursday next wk. Yesterday we got some hail while we were out so when I got home I did a check of my beds, and everywhere I'd seen the ant holes going down was a puddle b/c they picked lower spots in the garden, Fingers crossed they are all gone!
Now that you say that about the food gathering, where they were digging the holes was also beside my early blooming plants that were already dropping their spent petals...

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 11:07AM
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I was wondering if you are still fighting with your ants.
I am; there must be something that will make them go away.
I still keep researching and trying different methods.
So far the only way I can get in my garden is early,early morning, or in the rain.
I hope you are having more luck than me.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 11:03AM
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wildie(z3 Alberta)

Nope no luck here, they are still bad, it's been too wet to try any of the methods I've looked into... They say rain starting this morning turning to thunderstorms by early afternoon, but then clear for the rest of the wk, we'll see if the weatherguy is right! Then I'll be able to do something, though we are putting our house up for sale and moving so I might not bother!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 7:53AM
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Here in Ontario, I just spotted some ants gather in the garden. Looks like there will be some rain sometime this week.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 9:06AM
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Well; I refuse to let these buggers win! I was out in another bed in the afternoon and much to my dismay while I was edging the bed; I discovered MORE ants! These ones are the little red guys, all under the brick work about 4' long they have made their home. I was tempted to bring some of the big nasty ants over to take care of them LOL. I would but... do not want to have the nasty ants in another bed.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 11:44AM
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Any kind of mint plant will deter ants. I planted peppermint.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 9:29PM
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I sprinkle black pepper on the ant hills in flower beds. They don't like the smell of it and move on.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 8:33AM
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madtripper(5/6 Guelph)

Ants are good for the garden, and unless they are getting into the house it would be best to leave them alone.

I would be surprised if boiling water will do much. It will cool quickly once it hits the soil and ants are not bothered too much by water in their nest.

The ant poison they sell is made from borax. Instead of buying this rediculously expensive product, just get some borax from a grocery store or harware store - it is used for cleaning. Mix it 1/2 - 1/2 with sugar. The ants will eat the sugar and borax at the same time and die. Before that happens they will take some back to the queen.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 8:07PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

Someone told me to use crushed egg shells on the ant hill. It worked for me.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 11:07PM
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