Help my lawn is being taken over by ants...What do I do?
What do you mean by 'taking over'? What harm are they doing? Ants are even better soil aerators than earthworms.
What I do to get rid of ants in my lawn is to use a root feeder for trees. I hook up my hose to the root feeder then insert it into the ant hill (about 3-4 inches). I open the cup where you put fertilizer and put in some malathion or other pesticide that mixes with water, close the cup, and turn on the water. This injects the pesticide into the ant hill where it will do the most good. I do this in 2-3 places in the ant hill and have never had any come back. Hope this helps.
I had a ton of ants last summer when it was so wet. I learned that you notice the ants more in wet years because they build their colonies more above ground to avoid flooding. But they were probably always there. Is your problem that the ant hills are sticking out of your lawn?
Please don't resort to poisoning the environmnet to get rid of ants unless they are a major problem an not just an eye sore or nuisance. I cringe at the posting above suggesting pumping malathion into the ground. The ants don't come back. Gee whiz. Do you ever wonder why?
Good gardeners are good environmentalists.
It's now off the shelves in many jurisdictions including Quebec. Our garden center stopped selling it quite a few years back and the community was supportive of the decision. Pesticide-free lawns and gardens signs are proudly displayed. The polluting Weed and Feed herbicides are also off the shelf.
It seems that every three feet there is another little (or big) ant hill, wherever I look there's an anthill! I realise they are good aerators but the ground feels like its heaving under my feet.
Thank you all for your suggestions
I have an ant problem in one of my raised beds - they've already killed half a dozen seed dahlias for me. I'm going to try the borax & confectioners sugar mixture (equal parts) and placed in the area to see how that works.
Ants don't like their nests disturbed with water. After running the water on them a few times they will often pick up stakes and leave. The borax solution is a good one if running water doesn't work.
I agree with the sentiment that there has to be an actual problem. Sometimes plants die or not return and jump to wrong conclusions. Folks will see shriveled leaves on a plant, see some type of beetle or larva on the plant and assume, often wrongly, that there's a connection.
Nobody's mentality should be so wrapped up in the need for artificial perfection that damaging chemical poisons are rolled out. Pave the damn lawn first or quit gardening and take up another hobby.
Tova, on these forums if you post an open ended question about pest control, you will find that people who never otherwise have anything to say will be at your throat about environmental issues. Sorry but it happens a lot.
We are all entitled to our own opinions and hopefully to respect of our opinions by others. Please keep in mind that there is a separate forum for Organic Gardening and as far as I know there is not a forum where unpleasant language such as "pave the damn lawn first" is acceptable.
And anyway don't pave the damn lawn, ants actually prefer cracked pavement to lawns.
Well said, Gil. :)
I've had ant problems before. Their tunnelling under plants takes the soil away from the plants' roots and they die. The plants, that is. I tried all the organic methods, and finally resorted to some kind of powder that worked. I really hate using chemicals and i don't, generally, but sometimes i need "artificial perfection". No, wait, who said anything about artificial flowers?? :>
I live on the top of the edge of the valley. Ants love to come out of the bush and pick a spot in my yard to live in. One place I constantly have trouble with them getting into is the retaining wall. I use diazanon to control the ants. I know it is now a banned substance but I can still use it if I have it. And I have some left yet. It works. I have tried other methods of getting rid of ants, but they have not been as effective.
Plants that are on top of an ant pile will be smaller and stunted because the ants tunnel thoughout the root systems of the plants. It is a little hard to establish a root system then.
I have no problem in using melathian, diazanon, desis, roundup, etc, etc. because they work!!! I can not imagine what my plants would look like if I was organic. Besides we live next to a farmer's field and what he puts on his crop quite often drifts onto our property...including roundup this spring on our grass of our driveway...but that is another story.
Brenda, marciaz3, northspruce THANK YOU for your advice and support.
greenstar: I ignored the ants until they started killing the grass. I would prefer flower beds but until I have the time and energy to do it myself or the money to have it done for me, I'm stuck with the grass. My neighbours, whose perfect lawns are maintained by Lawn- care companies would report me to the by-law office if the ants spread to their property. Moving is not an option.
Kuzariprincess, I'm not a big fan of chemicals, but do use them selectively. After reading all this advice, I personally would do the borax/sugar, the water thing, and try some ant traps/bait. Hopefully, this will reduce their numbers quite a bit, and then you could try to finish off the tough ones with a chemical. Hopefully that way the ants are gone, with less chemical use.
Pave the damn lawn first or quit gardening and take up another hobby.
Really now, somebody needs to get outdoors more!
I'm pretty much ready to go do the Borax/sugar trick myself. The ants don't usually bother me too much but this year it's gotten insane. I'm not too keen on chemicals either, but sometimes ya just gotta do what ya gotta do.
So between the ants and mushrooms this year I am waging war to reclaim MY lawn! Hah! Who said pavement??? Nah. I'll just have to keep winning these battles!
I didn't declare war on ants until they decided to attack me and invaded the house. Only then did I fight back seriously. I mixed up the sugar and borax and sprinkled it all around the perimeter of the house. I don't know if that killed them or just repelled them, but they are no longer coming in.
Yeah, and who said gardening was a hobby? It's a way of life!
Ang, you notice i didn't advocate eating the ants, eh? :>
Marcia, I would have passed anyways! Somehow "Ants a la carte" doesn't appeal! LOL
You could serve them with mushrooms. :D
(I'll still pass, thanks!)
I'm on my way to get groceries and must remember to buy borax. I heard its good for roses too...
See ya all later
When you said 'eating ants' it reminded me of a story my maid of honor/best friend mentioned to me. For about 20 years she and her family were missionaries in Nigeria. It was a rare treat...once in a long while the flying ants would be so numerous...in swarms. They would do what the local people did and fry them up. Their kids just loved it. Somehow...just not so appealing to me. Then again, their kids did not grow up with apples and when they came back to Canada on a furlough their kids ate apples, seeds and all, and loved them.
Tova, did you happen to notice this:
"From June 19th to the 23rd, Trey Rogers, Ph.D., one of America's top lawn care experts will answer questions from members on a new forum called Ask The Yard Doctor. He and his staff will answer questions and respond to posts each morning from 7am to 9am ET. So get your questions ready and add some to the forum over the weekend of the 17th. Click here to go to the forum."
It's at the top of the main page. Never noticed it there until last night. Maybe the "Yard Doctor" can give you some suggestions to get rid of the ants. Good Luck!
I'm confused by your remark about borax being good for roses.
What did you mean?
I do know that it will kill the grass along with the ants if you're not careful how you use it.
I was confusing borax with epsom salts, good thing I never used any!
I must have been having a 'Senior Moment'.
Kuzari princess, my son mentioned diatomaceous earth last night, as we were sitting around the fire pit with ants crawling up our legs. I checked on the net, and it can be used for ant control. I know you can buy big bags of it at UFA or feed stores, I'm not sure if garden centres carry smaller bags. Just sprinkle it on the lawn. It'll kill insects, but doesn't hurt plants or animals.
We have had a huge increase in ants these last few years in Minneapolis. I have pretty much ignored them elsewhere until now. Even had huge mounds pop up in the grass. I am cleaning rock and lifting weed barrier from the foundation of my house because of ants making such a mess. They brought up soil from under the old barrier and it mixed into the landscape rock enough that weeds grow in the rocks and huge hills are along the foundation. I do not have them in the house. Before I put new barrier and rock, what could I use to make this area less desireable to ants. I have read about diatomeceous earth, borax & sugar? What is the purpose of sugar? Does the borax need to be watered in. Any other suggestions? This is not in a plant area.
You do have the ideal area. The rock will be warm and the ants will love that.
Sugar is sweet and will draw the ants to the solution you make up.
Borax... I found this quote in a site on the internet...
'It works because when the bugs walk though it, it sticks to their bodies. Then when they return to their nest they eat it off each other to clean each other. Then it turns into gas in their stomach. They can't pass gas like mammals can, so the gas builds up and "pop!" '
Someone in the Home Disasters forum in Garden Web had this to say...
'I use Borax that you can get in the laundry section of the super market. It has all the right stuff in it. Mix it 50/50 with your sugar. Just be very careful where you spread it as it will kill your lawn.'
Other suggestions from the same thread...
'Here are several solutions that work:
1. Sprinkle the area with Morton Salt and they'll be gone.
2. Cinnamon gets rid of ants.
3. Baking soda is a poison to them. Dust baking soda in cracks, corners and crevices.
4. Lysol kills ants faster than Raid.
5. Spray 'n Wash kills them.
6. Windex is better than any bug spray (suggestion from a pest control person)
7. Sprinkle raw Minute Rice where ants are a problem, they take the rice to the nest, eat it and the rice swells in their stomaches killing the whole next. Same thing happens with dry grits.'
They say to mix the Borax and sugar with a little water to make a sugary solution that they will in turn walk through and bring back to the nest. Apparently it takes a few days for it to work. You may want to set out shallow containers every few weeks/each month in case of other colonies of ants that may show up to take the place of the dead ant colony. Beware though, keep it out of reach of dogs and cats.
I still have some Diazonon so that is what I have been using on my acreage to kill the ants as they make their way out of the valley below us, into my yard. I sprinkle this where my cat and the dogs can not get at it. Here it is still too early for the ants to be out. The snow just left last week.
Instead of borax you can also use a bait made of baking soda, dry active yeast and sugar in equal parts, with similar effect.
I can deal with the ants in my yard but they are also taking over my potted plants. I water and they swarm my patio and porchy
My lawn had a lot of ants in it and here is how I got rid of them. It was pretty easy and they are all gone now.
Here is a link that might be useful: Kill the Queen Ant
So as much as I love all of the hippy 'dont poison our earth' junk... I have two children with a third on the way. The children cannot play in their own yard due to the major ant infestation. Anything that allows them to get back outside whenever they wish is A.O.K. with me. They love playing outside, and killing the ants is a better alternative to them being stuck inside playing video games like the fat kids with bad parents.
Sorry regulars, but I can't resist this.
I'm not a hippy but I don't poison this earth as I want my grandchildren to be able to live here, my kids played outside and I have ants, my kids play video games, they're not fat, and I'm not a bad parent.
You're welcome to join this forum, but please don't start by bashing us all.
Buy those round ant bait things. They're just Borax with some yummy stuff.
The ant traps don't seem to work in the house, not for us, anyway, but we put out borax and icing sugar in lids and they eventually worked (until next spring).
I also have loads of ants. Anyone want them? I have tried diamataceous? earth and it doesn't work, they just walk right over it and they're still here. I read on another forum that using dried soap powder works. I guess it has to do with the phosphorous. Anyway, I'm going to try it. If it doesn't work, at least I'll end up with a clean garden. LOL Marg
Sorry Nutsaboutflowers, but I think you're taking Leah's comment a little too personally. Ordinarily, ants in a garden aren't a problem, but I think I've got the same problem as Leah. Our yard is covered in little ant hills, every couple feet, and the ants are extremely aggressive. If you step on or near a hill, they swarm up your feet and legs, biting painfully. My kids absolutely refuse to go in the yard, and even the dog doesn't seem to spend any time outdoors anymore. I've decided it's time to do something about them, up until now I had just let them be, but they're just too nasty!
I too am over run with ants in my yard, and plz no rude comments saying get used to outdoors, my grandaughter was bit bad by the ants on the weekend and i need help
I had to go nuclear and went with the foam pyrethrin spray. I had two anthills next to each other that were so big you could actually tell they were anthills from a distance.
An interesting discussion about my most unfavorite insect. Time to try some more natural remedies since I really want to keep my beautiful plants and not poison the animlas including my pets and the ones belonging to my neighbours that sometimes come to visit.
Tobacco tea is something I haven't tried. I wonder what is would do to the grass?
Nicotine was a very popular insecticide back in the day. It's rather poisonous to even large mammals in large quantities.
You might as well use something pyrethrin based then. It's a hell of a lot less harmful.
I use a hot pepper tea or cayenne pepper. Ant's hate hot peppers. Go buy some hot peppers, puree and add boiling water. pour on ant hills. This works.
Sometimes I just sprinkle ant hills with cayene pepper.
Safe. Side effect? Dogs & cats seems to get upset when they wash thier paws if they've walk through the pepper.
I also have an ant infestation, but to complicate matters they are in my two 8x8 raised vegetable garden boxes. Ordinarily I wouldn't care that we have ants as they seem to ignore the veggies for the most part. What they don't ignore is the aphids. Because I have ants, my vegetables have been overrun with aphids every year. To the point where there is no saving them. I can't keep up. I would be spraying insecticidal spray (soap) on them every day to try and control the aphids which not only killed most of the veggies but also made them not very desirable for eating.
So I need to get rid of aphids, and in order to do this I need to get rid of the ants, who farm aphids for their sticky sap. Clearly anything that would make my garden inhospitable for veggie plants is a no go (such as poison!).
What about stapling fly paper around the top of your raised beds or if the ants are living in the wood of your raised beds change it for new wood or brick.
Apparently garlic repels aphids. Bonus - no vampires!
If you mix borax with sugar (50/50) the ants will pack it to the colony eat it and expire. This has worked on any infestation I have had and is environmentally friendly, especially when you have kids and animals.
I refuse to use chemicals in the garden so any ant issues I have in the garden I use DE (diatomaceous earth) for. It does work but it needs to be reapplied often.
Don't waste your money on the stuff you can buy in garden stores, go to a Live Stock Feed Store (UFA) and buy a big bag. Farmers feed it to their cattle so its readily available. A few years ago we bought a 50 lb bag for $26 at UFA while a garden store wanted $23 for 1 kg.
My husband doesn't have the patience to use DE on larger hills in the grass so he sprays them with Grub Be Gone - anything that has carbaryl in it will work.
If you have time, lots of water and don't mind having a dead spot in your grass for a while boiling water works extremely well. We had an massive ant hill once and the only thing that killed it was boiling water. One dose isn't enough though. You have to put pot after pot of boiling water into the hill so that it saturates deep down. Its a bit time consuming but its 100% environmentally friend and works!!!
I feel your pain...I have the same industrious ants farming away in my yard. As ashamed as I am of saying this, I ended up resorting to chemical warfare. It worked. By spraying all the aphids and killing them, they ants went back to being ants and now for 3 years I'm aphid-free(?) well, no but aphid-free-er.
Actually ants are great insectivores, as long as they remember that themselves. But if they forget and develope sweet teeth, their farming habits can ruin your crop.
This will sound cruel, but it works.....late at dusk,(after ants turn in for the night) ram a hollow pipe down the center of the ant hill. Squirt some lighter fluid down the pipe, and drop a match. Whooof! No more ant hill. Of the ants that do survive...they almost always look for a new apartment. Not sure if there is a society that you could be turned in to for this procedure or not.
I tried the powder sugar and borax. It really works. This year the one area of ants spread to 3 more in the lawn and one in the vegetable garden, Killing many carrots and beets. One application and they are gone.
I haven't read all the posts but 50/50 borax and sugar works well.
I live in arizona and my grass is pretty much one big ant hill, they are everywhere. They have been feeding off of the dog poo. My dogs wont step in the grass now because they keep getting bit, and we have the grass so the dogs can play in it.
What can I do to get rid of the ants safely for both dogs and the grass, but also that does not kill the ants? Is there something I can spray that will repel them like an essential oil? Spearmint, peppermint, etc. I do not know where the ant hills are, although I speculate there are many. Will flooding the grass with water and keeping it short help?
They are small and angry ants. Mowing the lawn today, I was bit several times and my ankles are now swollen :-(
Well, transgenesis, it sounds like you have Fire Ants. There are pesticides that quickly dissolve that you can spread over your entire yard and then you just water the grass. If you find an actual anthill, you can concentrate a bit more (3 or 4 tablespoons worth) right there and water it down really good to get it down the hole. I have fire ants all around my house, and got tired of the ant bites as well. I went to the local Wal-Mart and grabbed a bag of Spectricide for around 12 dollars.
Alternatively, you can do what this guy did in his youtube video ... I think he just doesn't like ants at all, but the art does look pretty interesting!
Here is a link that might be useful: Casting an Ant Hill in Aluminum
Thank you for the reply. I am looking for a more natural approach that will deter the ants and make them relocate somewhere. Something I can plant perhaps that will grow in the grass in the arizona heat, etc.
Fire ants are the hardest ones to get rid of ... they are nearly immune to things that drive away other ants. :( If you have them in your yard, your best resort is to kill them off. They may aerate your soil, but they'll kill plants and harm you and your family and pets with their poison. Fight fire with fire, I say.
I have used diatomaceous earth for years with good success to keep the ant population at a reasonable level here. I don't care if they live beyond my immediate garden and driveway on my large acreage but they cannot be within 50' of my house. I get the food grade diatomaceous earth and liberally sprinkle it where the ants are most active and where I see holes. Usually one treatment works but the current hill in my lawn must be deep as I've done it 4 times now but I didn't see any signs of life yesterday so perhaps that's it. There is no grass in that area as the ant activity has killed it.
I have not used synthetic chemicals in my garden for 14 years since I became a Grandmother. I want my Grandchildren to be able to play in an area that is healthy for them. There are many choices one can make in gardening without resorting to toxic carcinogenic chemicals. You may never know the harm you do to your loved ones as you will no longer be here when the effect of them takes place.
Choices, always choices.
I use D.E. as well since I have dogs and borax is toxic. I buy food grade from a feed store and sprinkle on the paving stones and grass. I had a huge ant hill in the grass and I sprinkled heavily and all the ants disappeared by the next day.