An infestation of ants can make spending time in and around your garden a less-than-pleasant experience. These pests can also damage your plants by disturbing their roots and protecting other insect pests like aphids, which feed on the plants. Instead of spraying your plants with potentially toxic insecticides, use natural remedies to rid your garden of them. Most of these natural pesticides contain ingredients you probably already have in your home.
Citrus oil, including orange and lemon oil, is toxic to ants and won’t harm your garden plants. Many natural insecticides contain orange oil, but you can make your own using 3/4 cup of orange essential oil, 1 tablespoon of molasses, 1 tablespoon of dish soap and 1 gallon of water, recommends the Urban Harvest website. Spray the mixture on and around garden plants to get rid of the ants in your garden and in your home. If you don’t have orange oil, simply boil the rinds of five or six oranges in water for 15 minutes until soft. Place the rinds in a food processor along with the liquid used to boil them, to create a slurry that you can pour around your garden plants.
While you can purchase insecticidal soaps to kill ants in your garden, make your own instead, using simple dish soap. Add 1 teaspoon of dish soap to 1 pint of warm water and stir. Spray the soapy water directly on plants and around your garden to eliminate ants. Because ants don’t like peppermint oil, you can also use a liquid soap, such as castile soap, containing peppermint oil and mix it with water in the same ratio to rid the garden of ants. If ants persist, you can increase the amount of detergent in your mixture, but too much detergent may harm your plants because it is phytotoxic in large amounts.
Create homemade ant bait using borax, which is toxic to ants. Combine 1/2 teaspoon of borax with equal parts honey and a sugar substitute, recommends the Sonora Environmental Research Institute. Spoon the mixture into open bottles or jars and place the containers on their sides around your garden plants. The ants will crawl into the containers, carrying the toxic bait back to their queen, and the colony will die. You can also mix 3 cups of water with 1 cup of sugar and 4 teaspoons of borax. Dip bread in the mixture and cover it with peanut butter. Leave several of the bread pieces out in the garden, which work the same way as the honey bait containers, recommends McGill University Urban Nature Information Service.
While you can make a nontoxic solution of equal parts white vinegar and water, along with a squirt of dish soap, to kill ants on your plants, vinegar can harm vegetation because it’s very acidic. Instead, use such a mixture away from your plants and soil. Instead, sprinkle spices like cinnamon and cloves or other dry ingredients such as mint tea leaves, chili powder and used coffee grounds around your plants to rid your garden of ants. Concentrate such ingredients directly over any ant mounds that you find. These dry ingredients help kill and repel ants without harming your plants and soil; you can even combine them together for further ant protection.
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