Ants and how to rid my garden of them?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by southrngardngal, Apr 2, 2006.

  1. southrngardngal

    southrngardngal Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,185
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Location:
    Philadelphia, Mississippi
    I don't think I have ever seen so many ants. They are getting all in my raised beds. Some are building hills in the bed where I have the onions planted. Is there any way to get rid of them using something beside poison. I have tried grits and I think they liked them. Then I poured boiling water on some (not where the onions were but in my compost) and all they did was move over a little bit.

    Help! Help! I don't want poisoned onions or any other veggie. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

    Jan
     
  2. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    24,572
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    MS
    I am having the exact same problem up here in NW MS. Ants EVERYWHERE, especially in my raised beds! I was going to try the boiling water too. Sure hope someone has a good, organic way of getting rid of them.
     

  3. swamp man

    swamp man Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,354
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2005
    Location:
    Fairfield, Iowa
    Howdy,fellow Mississippians.I have posted the same question at least twice,and have not found anything that is garden safe,and will eradicate fireants.Boiling water will kill a few ants,but doesn't begin to take care of a fireant colony.The only thing that I have found that helps a little,is to use chemical warfare to kill as many colonies as possible outside your garden.I think diaznon(sp?)claimed to be garden safe(can't remember),but it's no longer available to the public.I'd really love to get a good solution to this awful problem. Nick
     
  4. Kee Wan

    Kee Wan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    317
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2005
    When I was overrun by ants - someone told me to plant spearmint and/or peppermint....ants do not seem to like it.

    I tried this - and it did seem to work....the problem is that the mints run - they take over anything that they get into adn if you dont' have a good way to contain them - they just go and go and go.

    I found that creating a place that they cannot just run out of works - you still hav eto do some keeping - but it slows it all down - and mint is SO good in teas and salads adn such.....dry it and it makes a sachet that smells SO good....Many crittres don't like it.

    Not sure how it would work with fireants.....
     
  5. dcross

    dcross Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,002
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2005
    Location:
    East central WI
    I've always heard cinnamon will repel them, and I've been planning to use 5% borax in sugar water(do fire ants go for sugar?) whenever I run out of the liquid ant bait. The previous people here put diazanon granules all around the house each spring, I just use the liquid whenever I see them in the house.
     
  6. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Location:
    Bristol, ny
    Ants can't stand the smell of cloves at all. It interferes with their ability to follow each others scent trail. Diazanon is very effective on ants. It is very toxic to birds. It is not banned from use except in certain locales or states. Boiling water does work well but it won't reach many fire ant central chambers. They can be ten feet down and ten feet away fro the entrance. Ant larvae is very susceptible to temperature fluctuations
     
  7. jane2256

    jane2256 lurking in the shadows

    Messages:
    293
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    North FL
    When I find a new ant hill here in Georgia, I pour about a quarter cup of cornmeal (grits) on the hill and then water the spot the next day and they die. Also, DE works well.
     
  8. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    Good baits work the best on ants. Things like cinnamon, cloves, and mint that are intended to repel them, rarely work for very long. If ants want to go somewhere, they will sacrifice workers to get across any repellant. Organic and non-toxic are meaningless terms. Consider that nicotine is organic. Just because something is an herb doesn't make it non-toxic. Mint oil at 9% has killed people, just as pepper spray has.

    Diazanon was removed from the market because the toxin builds up in your body. It only lasted 2 weeks, anyway. Contact poisons often have a quick knockdown effect, but after a few weeks, the ants are back.

    Baits are a good choice for those concerned about contaminating their garden because the ants eat the toxin, therefore it is not available to your plants. Also, very little bait is required. It is also very much cheaper than scattering herbs around your garden. .

    There are several baits that are commercially available, and you can make your own. Amdro is made of corn grits with a small percentage of hydromethylnon and has a good reputation for working well on fire ants. Hydromethylnon has a good safety record and is less toxic than boric acid.

    To make your own bait, find a food product the ants like by setting out some samples. Within minutes they will be harvesting the food they prefer. Use this as the base for the bait. Peanut butter or jelly are commonly used by the commercial baits and they work well for homemade because the boric can be mixed in. Ants food preferences change often depending on what the colony needs. If you use something like grits or cat food, you'll need to grind it up so the boric acid gets mixed well. Don't use too much boric acid. If you have a sensitive scale, a little less than 5% of the weight of the food is ideal. Too much boric acid will kill some workers, but not get to the queen.

    Don't scatter bait all over your garden. Don't place it directly on the ant hill either. You can put a tablespoon or two in a jar lid near the mound and they will find it. After an hour or so they will have collected enough to kill the colony, and you can pick up the left overs.
     
  9. VALENT

    VALENT Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,569
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    Location:
    just west of Houston Texas
    If you are worried about keeping it organic, there are products out there that are made of bacterium and supposedly very effective. The active ingredient is "spinsosad" and some retail names are Come and Get It and Fire Ant Control with Conserve. I do not know how effective these are but they can be used on Certified Organic land.
     
  10. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    Valent

    I searched for "spinsosad". It appears to be an excellent product, but not for ants.

    On the other hand, Conserve is labeled for ants and appears to also be an excellent bait. The low concentration and the OMRI approval are great.

    Thanks for the lead, I've never used either, but will in the future.
    GO
     
  11. VALENT

    VALENT Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,569
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    Location:
    just west of Houston Texas
    gobug, I have no experience with these. The information I have is from a garden nursery. I was under the impression that spinosad was the active in Conserve. Sorry about that. I will see if I can find more about spinosad and ants. I know that it was mentioned very specifically for fire ants but this was not the label talking.
     
  12. VALENT

    VALENT Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,569
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    Location:
    just west of Houston Texas
    ok I looked some more because I find this possibility intriguing as I really dislike fire ants. http://agnews.tamu.edu/fireants/stories/organic.htm
    I am looking more and more at this but it does not seem to belong in vegetable gardens(even though I dont know if anything is.)
     
  13. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    It seems to be very active against leaf eating insects. After I responded I began to wonder whether it could work on leaf eating ants, which are one of the few ants not susceptable to any baits. They use the leaves they harvest to grow mold that they eat.
     
  14. BaronsMom

    BaronsMom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,274
    Joined:
    May 22, 2005
    Guess I'm lucky to live in area without "nasty ants". I welcome ants in my garden - nature's garbage collectors.
     
  15. ladycat

    ladycat Chicken Mafioso Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,715
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Location:
    N. TX/ S. OK
  16. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    Ladycat said:
    This is totally false. "Non-toxic" is an oxymoron. Everything is toxic. Toxicity is a measure, just like the temperature. If you breathe DE you can get silicosis. Does that sound non-toxic?

    DE is a contact poison, meaning that the ants cross it, it abrades their exoskeletons causing them to dry up and die. Unfortunately, only 5% of the ants come out of the ant hill. The factory is inside and still in operation. Eventually, they will wear a path through the DE and return to normal population. You must also reapply DE everytime it rains or if you water.
     
  17. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    24,572
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    MS
    Which is it? Cornmeal or grits? :p

    I do think I'll set some mint out around the edges of my raised beds. If it spreads out into my pathways I'll consider it a bonus...lovely mint to smell while I'm walking around the garden!
     
  18. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Location:
    Bristol, ny
    I rather like the smell of mint and cloves too. As for the fire ants....who knows. We are lucky not to have them. Concerning organics, yes even gasoline is organic.
     
  19. MsPacMan

    MsPacMan Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    273
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2004
    Location:
    Tennessee

    Thing is, BaronsMom, where there are ants, there will be aphids, and besides sucking up plant juices, aphids are known for passing many plant diseases from one plant to another.


    Did you know that ant colonies are so sophisticated, that the ants actually "farm" aphids during the winter (that is, they collect the aphid eggs, bring them into their ant hills, and protect the eggs for hatching in the winter)?


    You see, ants eat aphids. So they farm the aphids, so that they will have something ready to eat. Meantime, the aphids invade our garden produce, sucking out the life juices and passing disease viruses.
     
  20. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    Some ants protect the aphids, and do not eat them. There is an interesting reason. The aphids produce a sweet juice that the ants can eat without having passed through the larvae in the nest. Solid food cannot be eaten by worker ants. Most food is taken back to the nest and given to the larvae who have the mouth parts and digestive juices to convert it to edible food for the rest of the colony. The larvae regurgitate the food and feed the worker ants, mouth to mouth. Then the workers feed each other. The queen gets fed food that has passed through several ants. This process is call trophalaxis. (It is the reason why ant baits work so well) Another interesting tidbit is that the ants mouth and front end bear a striking resemblance to the aphids rear end (where the sweet juice is excreted). Ants that leave the nest have a short period of time before they use up their energy. It differs by ant species and can be less than an hour. So aphid juice provides an on the trail snack.

    I was working in my garden a couple years ago and witnessed a lady bug landing on a leaf. Immediately upon landing, 6 ants rushed out and harassed her until she left. So she didn't have time to lay her eggs. It is the larval lady bug that does most of the aphid eating.

    Yellow jackets are also very attracted to aphid juice. I have seen them cleaning tree leaves of the juice, but never taking the aphids.