Ants intelligent creatures capable of doing incredible things, but they’re also one of the most common garden pests in the world. With over 12,000 species in existence, they can be hard to keep on top of, even if the two most common types (pavement ants and carpenter ants) are mostly harmless. Don’t worry though, if you see a chain of these little critters tramping through your yard, there are some simple home remedies you can try to ensure they don’t come back again.
Is It Really Necessary?
The first thing to do before tackling your ant problem is to ascertain whether or not you do actually have a problem. Contrary to popular belief, small amounts of ants are actually beneficial, as they hunt other small insects that may live in your lawn. Not only that, but they aid pollenation as they hunt, thus increasing the health of your garden overall.
One of the oldest methods for getting rid of ants is to use pipe tobacco. Simply soak the tobacco in water overnight, and the resulting “tea” will take out any anthills you find. Remember to remove the wet tobacco first and wear gloves while handling the solution, then pour the liquid over any and all anthills you see.
If there are only a few ants you need to take care of, then this little recipe is something they can’t resist. Mixing one tablespoon of boric acid with a whole cup of white sugar will create a toxic paste that ants can’t get enough of, which you can leave in places they are likely to gather or outside the entrances of anthills. The first ants to see the paste will carry some back inside and to the queen, ensuring the solution reaches the whole colony.
Basic Is Best
Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the easiest, and that’s especially true when it comes to insects. If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to rid your garden of ants, then you only need one thing: water. That’s right, pouring a bucket of boiling water into an ant nest is one of the oldest and most popular ways to deal with the problem – even if sometimes it takes a few repetitions to ensure all the ants are gone.
Quick and Clean
If water alone isn’t doing the trick, there’s another approach you can try involving things you already have in your kitchen at home. A simple mixture of washing up liquid and cooking oil will take the ants out in seconds flat – simply use half a teaspoon of dish soap for every one and a half teaspoons of olive oil. Put the mixture in a spray bottle to tackle any stray ants outside the colony, or simply pour the whole thing over the nest.
The White Way
White wine vinegar is a super versatile kitchen essential, but it has some uses that not many people know about. For instance, it is a super effective tool in the struggle against ants, and pouring a litre of the stuff directly into an anthill will ensure that the insects are not a problem for long.
Not all anti-ant strategies involve a bucket load of chemicals, in fact, some approaches are downright sophisticated. If you’re looking for a way to keep your own hands clean, it might be worth introducing Nematodes into your garden. These creatures are microscopic worms that live in soil and have been the natural enemies of ants since time began. They will immediately begin to hunt and eat any ants nearby while surviving ants will flee far away in search of a new home.
The Next Level
If none of the natural remedies listed above have proved effective, it may be time to consider a stronger response. Professional ant-killing products are not always necessary, but in substantial or severe cases they can be very helpful in bringing the problem under control. These professional poisons come in gel and/or powder form, and each type has a distinct benefit. Gel, for example, poses no danger to your soil or plants but may take longer or more applications to be fully effective. Powders work much more quickly but are best kept to indoor areas like sheds or patios, as they can have an adverse effect on your garden’s soil or plants.
Okay so now that you have successfully gotten rid of your ant problem, how can you make sure things stay that way? Well, perhaps the most effective method is to refrain from using plants in your garden that attract aphids – as aphids excrete honeydew, a sugary substance that ants go mad for. Conversely, you could try and keep aphid numbers down by introducing ladybirds into your garden, as this in turn will discourage ants from making their homes there too.