Need solution to kill ants in garden

June 11, 2003

I have a perennial rock garden and the ants are enjoying it too much. Does anyone know what to use to deter them from building nests? Someone suggested cinnamon - has anyone had luck with that????? HELP!

Comments (79)

  • glenfawnmary

    Identify the ants first because this won't work on ants that don't want a protein food source.I found this info when searching for something to use where I grow food items. A lot of things..even natural..are for lawns or pastures....not food areas. Texas A & M University has a lot of information about everything!
    Texas A & M Two-Step FIRE ANT Control

    #1 Apply a fresh broadcast bait with the active ingredient spinosad while
    ants are foraging. Consider Safer Brand Fire Ant Bait and Green Light Fire
    Ant Control with Conserve.
    #2 Treat mounds around foundation and in high traffic areas with D-Limonene
    (orange oil). Commercial organic treatments include Safer Brand Fire Ant
    Mound Drench and Garden-Ville Anti-Fuego Soil Conditioner.

    Howard GarrettÂs [Dr.Dirt] Two-Step Ant Control
    #1 Use beneficial nematodes for treatment of the larger area. There are
    thousands of different species of nematodes. The nematode for fire ant
    control is sold under the name ANTidote from Gulf Coast Biolotic Technology
    (1-800-524-1958). It attacks the fire ants at the larval stage. It is very
    effective and can last for years.
    #2 Use a mound treatment that consists of compost tea, molasses, and orange
    oil. You can buy concentrates of this. Look for Garden-Ville's Auntie Fuego
    Soil Conditioner, or you can buy Garden-Ville's Garrett Juice and add the
    orange oil to it. You can also make your own by making compost tea and
    adding orange oil and molasses to your homemade tea. To this tea, add 4-6
    ounces of orange oil and 4 teaspoons of molasses, per gallon, to make your
    own mound control juice.

    Fire ants can be controlled with organics. First of all to help the soil and
    run the fire ants out of your yard you can use Liquid molasses or spread dry
    molasses over your yard. Fire ants hate molasses and will move there mounds
    over night. After this first step, you can use two ounces of orange oil to
    one gallon of water and treat all the mounds you come across. It way take
    more than one treatment to get rid of the little suckers. You can also buy
    some already mixed-up fire ant killers at most feed store's and organic
    nursery's in our area, Gardenville makes a wonderful one.
    The good thing to all of the above is, it will not hurt anything in your
    yard or lake

    Here is a link that might be useful: Natural remedies for lots of things

  • jwarner191

    NEW...........ANT CONTROL Google below

    Here is a link that might be useful: ANT CONTROL Google Group

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  • ruthieg__tx

    I live in the country and we are currently building a home on 5 acres. Fire ants are just something that we are probably going to have to learn to live with but I do appreciate all of the info you all are providing...I have enough ants around that I can certainly try different methods...I will say though that from what I have seen they just leave the nest and often come back to it later..ugh I plan to garden so hope I don't get eaten alive...

    Our daughter visited us recently for the first time and she was bitten "stung" on the hand twice...she was reacting to the sting and talking about being stung by a bee...I truly didn't have the heart to tell her that the culprit she was so franticly dodging was an ant...

  • Woodsy

    we don't have fire ants here..but living in a wooded area, we do have LOTS of ant colonies.
    If they do not come in the house, I let them be. But, I can sure understand if they become a nuisance.
    Since we live in the woods, ants are vital to the reproduction of some woodland plants..such as trillium and other spring plants...the ants take the seeds underground to store for food..and what they don't eat sometimes germinate..and for those delightful surprizes of "how did that get here?" I'll let them stay!
    Good luck

  • kendal

    You'll never fully get rid of ants, they always come back. The best you can hope for is to force them to nest some where else. I found out the hard way the more you fight them, the more plentiful they become lol. Are they eating your plants up? In the corner of my garden I have a big nest of black and red ants they are about an 1/2 an inch big, and always climbing up and down one of my conifers. I'm not sure what they are doing, but the tree does not seem to be harmed, so I leave them alone.


  • west_texas_peg

    I used human urine on a bed of red ants recently. Worked great! As soon as the urine hit them they started dying and have not seen any sign that they moved to a new location.

    DH thought I was nuts when I asked if he would provide this for the garden. I provided the liquid detergent bottle.

  • jwarner191

    I improved my page showing: TOXICITIES OF SOME COMMONLY USED PESTICIDES COMPARED TO A FEW HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS. You can view it by clicking on the link below.

    John Warner, entomologist
    University of Florida


  • Rosefilly

    I was skeptical of the urine treatment, but in a last ditch effort I had my DH treat 2 hills that had responded to nothing. After treating twice no more fire ants. He is still laughing about getting to go in the yard.

  • jwarner191

    Often ants are attracted to urine because nitrogen is usually scarse in the enviornment and needed by ants to make proteins. So, the ants will thank you for uric acid and any other nitrogenous wastes you might give them.

  • Pudgy

    I simply made a massacre of the fire ants (after they
    stung me a few dozen times when I went to pick up a
    pot they had made into a mound without my knowing) by
    doing the following:

    1. Boil a nice large pan of water
    2. Pour it on top of ant pile
    3. Follow up immediately with apple cider vinegar
    4. Feel good about amount of death incurred?
    5. No, go to step 1
    6. Exit program

    Pretty simple, worked great, haven't seen ants since.


  • texaspatti

    I had to respond because someone mentioned using 'OVER N OUT.'
    This stuff is toxic, not intended for garden use and
    not approved for this purpose.
    I learned the hard way. You can't or I should say, shouldn't eat the vegetables treated with OVER N OUT.
    It takes one full year ( I was told, who knows what remains in the soil ) for this stuff to be gone. Yes it'll get rid of fire ants but at what cost?
    My entire garden was a waste!
    We live in Texas and these ants have taken over! We have tried everything to get rid of them but nothing works. They will move the mound but that's about it.

  • girlndocs

    "I have a perennial rock garden and the ants are enjoying it too much. Does anyone know what to use to deter them from building nests?"

    I understand why people would want to get rid of fire ants, or any other ant species that's actually aggressive. I can even understand objecting to a big mound-type ant nest in the middle of a flowerbed. But otherwise, why bother? You'll just end up doing yourself and your garden a disservice. Ants (except tropical leafcutter ants) don't damage healthy vegetation -- they're beneficial insects.

    We have a fairly large population of those tiny black ants. Often I find a nest when I turn over a stone and I always feel bad because I *want* those guys in my garden.


  • iliketoplayinthedirt

    one good solution to keeping ant populations down is to treat your soil with Sevin or Orthene(smelly!) or use disyston.
    As for you folks in the south, the fire ants seem to be revving up this year. My aunt lives in MS, and is fighting them. She uses over n out, tried amdro but didn't last too long.

  • birdtalker

    Kendal, I am in the PNW also and it sounds like you have carpenter ants. We had them too. They nest out in the garden and put their nursery in homes. At least that is what we were told.
    For ordinary ants, I use mint plants to protect something like my rose bush from aphids and cayenne pepper to move ants from a place where I don't want them. I buy a new bottle and sprinkle the whole thing around where they are and they move farther away from the house.

  • grammabonnie

    I have a number of ant hills at the base of trees - conifers, fruit and deciduous trees. I've been afraid to pour boiling water over them in case I injure the trees. My husband says that the ants won't injure the trees, but I have seen a number of trees die that were home to ants. So, are the ants attracted to dying trees or do the ants kill the trees?? I need to do something about these ants because we put a lot of money into planting these trees.

  • angelkate42

    After being hugely pregnant all last spring and summer, I've ventured outside this year to find huge anthills everywhere! What can I do to control this problem? It is so gross and just makes my skin crawl! They're coming out of the splits between cement panels in the driveway, surrounding the trees, and are in the flower beds. Can anybody help?


  • not_so_chey_gal

    My Grandma used to use cucumber peelings. For some reason they don't like them. I would just take a walk outside in my yard while making salad and peel them right where the pesky critters hang out. I'm sure to my neighbors I looked like a nut. Seemed to work though...

  • garden_hoe_76

    Any suggestions on how to kill ants around rasberries, blueberries and strawberries? I have red ants, big black ants and I need a safe way to get rid of them before the fruit appears.

  • Violet_Z6

    Outdoor Ant Control
    Supplies: 1 to 2 gallons water
    Stove or barbecue grill
    Instructions: Heat water to 160 to 170 degrees. Quietly sneak up to the mounds of ants and pour the boiling water down the hole.
    Note: I normally try to do this between 11am and 2 pm.

    Indoor Ant Control
    Supplies: 1 tbsp. boric acid
    1 tbsp. mint jelly or peanut butter
    1 cracker
    Small cardboard box
    Instructions: Mix the boric acid and mint jelly; spread mixture on a cracker. Punch pinholes in a cardboard box; place cracker inside. Place box in an area where ants cause problems, but away from children and pets.
    Note: The mint jelly or peanut butter lures the ants in and the boric acid kills them.

    Indoor and Outdoor Ant Control
    Supplies: Diatomaceous earth
    Instructions: Dust food-grade diatomaceous earth along the antÂs pathways.
    Note: The white powder will cut through their exoskeleton and they will dehydrate and die.

    Indoor and Outdoor Ant Control Supplies:
    1 1/2 cup Cream of Wheat
    Instructions: Place a dish of Cream of Wheat where the ants can access it.
    Note: After they eat it, the cereal expands and the ants will explode.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Getting Rid of Ants

  • jwarner191

    No, ants don't explode. But the foragers may bring the wheat back to the nest to feed their larvae. The larvae will not explode either.

    Hot water will kill ants, but it is a dangerous way to do it. A sweet aqueous solution of a borate is often used. It works.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Borates and other stuff

  • trsinc

    For fire ants:

    I don't care if what I do makes the ants move as long as they are not in my yard. I tried the granular molasses this year and I have no ants. The bag cost 4.00. I used one bag in the front and one in the back. Easy to apply with a spreader... Of course, I'll have to reapply at least once a year, but I would have to do the same with poison. Don't know if one bag would have taken care of everything, I wanted every square inch to have a granule.

    Also, soapy water will kill them and repel them. It will only kill the ones you actually spray. I used to have patio made from 2 x 2 concrete squares. In between the squares was sand and the ants (all kinds) just loved to build mounds in that sand. I drenched the patio with soapy water 4 times. The ants left and didn't come back. I lived there for two years.

    If you use soapy water be careful of the kind you use. Some types of soap will kill your plants.

    And Texas A&M has been studying fire ants for a while now. They have determined that the more bermuda grass you have = more fire ants. This is because the legless mealy bug, after it is born and still has legs, loves the roots of bermuda grass. They attach themselves to the roots and live there until they die. The mealy bug makes some sort of secretion that fire ants LOVE. In fact, once the fire ants get hooked on this stuff they can't live without it. Kind of a fire ant heroin, I guess. So, my sympathies for bermuda grass lawn owners...

  • clem_gardener

    An organic solution would be to buy a product called
    "Diotamaceous earth." It is the crushed remains of tiny organisms. It is very sharp, and when poured around an ant mound, the ants crawl over it, and are cut to pieces. Caution should be taken while applying to not inhale it, or apply it it during a breezy day.

  • alan8

    Here in Alabama, the only thing I've ever found to work well is Amdro. The secret is to apply it the way the instuctions tell you to. Do not sprinkle it directly on the bed! I treated 3 acres two years ago. I used to have 40 or more beds of fire ants. Beds so large they would choke down my riding mower. After I applied Amdro, I've only seen 2 beds since.

  • jwarner191

    Diatomaceous earth is inorganic.

  • happyday

    Jwarner, can you tell me the toxicity of Roundup?

    Do I have to wear long pants, gloves and a mask when spraying?

    Can glyphosate or other ingredients in Roundup harm humans?

    How long does it stay in the soil? Does it ever break down into harmless chemicals? Can it be taken up into food plants and ingested, causing later harm?

  • mxbarbie

    I don't know what is in Round up, but I wouldn't use it just based on the fact it is made by Monsanto. If you don't know about the atrocities that company commits against nature and seeds you should google it.

  • jwarner191

    You can read the material safety data sheets (MSDS) for Roundup products at the link below. All chemical products must have an MSDS to provide information on their dangers, even natural products. It's a good idea to read these sheets before you use any chemical product.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Roundup MSDS

  • auntieant

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone could help with our ant problem.
    Last summer, we decided to give our veggie patch a year to the replenish the nutrients in the soil. Unfortunately during the break it seems a colony of ants have decided to make the patch their home. Any idea what we can do to get rid of them but still be able to use the patch for tomates, carrots and herbs?

  • weedkiller1

    Relative to other herbicides, Roundup is not terribly toxic - still I would recommend wearing a mask and gloves when spraying it (as with all herbicides). Roundup breaks down in the soil very quickly and you will not have problems with residual, or with uptake into plants and subsequent ingestion - also because plants that absorb glyphosate tend to die....

    And yes, I have a graduate degree in killing weeds and residual herbicides.

  • aqharednecks

    I have a more complicated issue that I don't know if you can help with. We are in the south and fireants are taking over. We have horses and goats so pretty much most of the yard is for growing vegetables or being grazed by livestock. Due to this, we can't put any chemicals down. Just recently, after a big storm, the ants moved indoors.... into my 3 year old's bed. He had 53 fire ant bies all over him, and it caused him to have a seizure. We need a method to control these things, this is not a situation where we can go on the "live and let live" thought process.

  • jwarner191

    You might consider that the venom in fireant stings is made up of:

    1- chemicals (natural and organic chemicals and highly toxic)
    2- much much more toxic than stuff that will kill fireants
    3- besides your son, fireants can also kill livestock, if you put out some fireant bait, such as Amdro or Advion, or other product... what will happen:

    1- you won't poison anything except the fireants (if you use the product according to label directions)
    2- you might save your son's life. Many people die each year from fireant stings! Animals die also.

    Think about it.


    Here is a link that might be useful: toxicity of ant stings and other fun stuff

  • miamirene

    I just recently tried this solution and ants are gone, I had fire ants In my garden. I sprinkled a mix of cinnamon,black pepper and ground coffee over my garden, not on the plants but on the soil, edges of my garden and on the ant mounds. The ants scattered and are gone moved away but they are not in my garden which is great! It worked for me might for others, Be Generous when sprinkling.

  • stan85in

    i have a list of different ways i used to kill ants, i believe that its better to understand some facts about ants first, so that whatever method you use to kill will be based upon some facts about ants. By understanding facts about ants, you will know their weakness and strength, and you will know what will work and what won't. Here are the various methods to kill ants,

    Here is a link that might be useful: understand and kill ants the smart way...

  • blueberrier1

    Use a food processor to grind up any citrus peels and scatter in your "anty" areas. This has worked for me two non-successive years when, for unknown reasons, ants decided to set up a subdivision and dine on the ripening blueberries. The ants were clever and pierced the berries, ate the innards and then went to another berry. Amazing how the hollowed skin of the berry was usually not shriveled. These ants never bothered the red raspberries that were only a few yards away. I never took the time to determine which species of ant these were.

    A handful of ground peels in a 2.5' diameter circle at the base of each bush resolved the issue. During the year, I try to keep a gallon or two of peels or processed peels in the freezer-for the ants. If you do not have freezer space, simply dry the peels as they accumulate, soak a few hours, process, etc. Sometimes, I use these peels scattered about the cole plants to reduce the cabbage moths. The citrus oils are believed to alter the coles' attractive odors.

  • oldpea

    Cornmeal does not make fireants explode but it does something to occupy them, move them, until your corn seeds can start growing. Also helps to keep them off the ears of corn until you can harvest. Yes, they do damage crops!
    I sprinkle cornmeal all over the garden.

    I would wage chemical war on them if they were to endanger my child's life. Best source for info is Texas A&M University.

  • raisingcain

    I have been having problems in my veg garden with the ants burrowing into my zucchini plant's stems and eating them from the inside out. Half the time I dont even know they are there. I have planted 6 zucchini plants each year for the last 4 years and they have only produced 3 zucchini in those conbined years because of the ants. 3 zucchini! If anyone who grows these will know they will grow like weeds but not mine. The ants dont bother my tomato, bell peppers, or eggplant though. I have tried a lot of things with no success. Any ideas that wont poison my family in the end product?

  • megmaine

    Not sure if this is urban legend but someone said sprinkle Equal around, that the Aspartame kills them. Considering what it did to my hubby, I can believe it might poison ants. He used to be a Diet Coke addict, and then got "meniere's syndrome" with dizzyness, nausea, fluctuating hearing loss, and ringing in the ears. We're pretty sure it's the asparatame that did it not only because so many other people have had that and other problems with aspartame, but because if he accidently ingests aspartame (like he did once by taking Theraflu without reading the label) he gets an attack, pretty quickly.

    He's mostly ok the rest of the time unless he eats too much salt,but even the tiniest amount of aspartame sets it off.

  • cataway

    I use aspartame on ant hills and without exception every hill has been dead in two days. 2 packets of equal for a large hill 1 packet for small hills misting the aspartame slightly with water makes it easier for the larger sized ants to take away, this is not necessary for the smaller ants. Enjoy the carnage oh and it is my opinion that people should not eat this stuff.

  • Xtal in Central TX, zone 8b

    I bought a bag of Diotamaceous earth to kill all the snails around here. Didn't realize it would take so little. Since I've got the entire bag left, I'll use it on the fire ants. Thanks for the suggestion. If any of ya'll lived near me, I'd have enough to kill all your mounds, too.


  • norvell84_yahoo_com

    get a 5 gallon bucket fill slightly with water then pour liquid detergent in and mix well, finish filling with water and have fun.... (hot or cold does not matter)
    note: more detergent than water is a must as you don't want to dilute your weapon, and make sure you add plenty of it :)

    I have noticed that the actual bubbles on top do a better job, as they probably have something more to take oxygen away and/or the oils that keep ants from drying out.


  • Phildeez

    I grew up on a ranch on a hillside, the ants were absolutely nuts, like leave your food out for more than an hour and they got it.

    We finally discovered boric acid traps.

    The easiest way we found was to use cocacola! Drink about half the can (or dump it out for you health nuts), refill with some boric acid, and leave out for the ants. They are extremely attracted to the sugar and can eat it for days, it really seemed to get rid of them in, but be prepared to mix some up every season.

  • couponmagic_live_com

    I'm watching the ants crawl through my Safer brand diatomaceous earth to eat my Okra...

    It's my very first garden, and so far out of 8 strawberry plants, 2 tomato plants, 4 okra plants and 2 eggplants... I've had 2 tomatoes. Basically making gardening a complete waste of time due to ants. I've tried Sevin... garlic powder and now this.

  • ghostmom01_gmail_com

    HELP! I am desperate to find a way to get rid of the ants in my flower beds. They are small black/dk brown ants that prefer greasy foods over sweets. (Discovered when my daughter dropped a french fry in the kitchen and didn't pick it up.)

    They are in my flower beds. I have found them in two potted plants already this year (one of them a hibiscus). They were in my mailbox without dirt at one time after it had rained for a while.

    Luckily, they do not bite but they are walking around my house all the time and I'm concerned they will be a bigger problem when I bring my tropical plants back in the house in the fall.

    Does anyone know if these methods safe for houseplants and herbs?

  • dont_e_mailme_yahoo_com

    I promise the syrupy theraflu works (not the mixed kind) I used
    The cherry kind... Put it next to the mound , watch them go crazy for it,
    I guess because it's sweet..... Then guess what? THEY DIE! Promise!

  • The_Village_Idiot

    Hmm... we're having an issue with ants. Not sure where my wife got a vineagar and water mixure idea from (we put int in a spray bottle and sprayed), but it did not work. They just moved and the smell just made me have to buy vinegar and salt chips.

    I will have to try some of these ideas. I must admit, I kinda want to pee on something... ants hopefully, but my aim isn't that good. Don't tell my wife, I'm heading to the garden now.

  • CPTK

    Praying Mantis?

  • LullabyF360

    I use a product called Hi-Yeild. There is a pamphlet on the bottle with the "recipes" for different problems. It is safe to use around fruit & vegetable bearing plants. It is even safe for large breeds of dogs & lives stock. DO NOT USE ON OR AROUND CATS, SMALL DOG BREEDS, RODENTS, ETC. When it comes to ants, it works miracles. Kills the bed by the following day. I also spray my entire yard with it to keep them away. Doing that also keeps the ticks, fleas, & other pests at bay.

  • xiangirl zone 4/5 Nebraska

    If you're serious you have to eliminate the source, not just make the ants move. That's the hard part. Finding bail they'll take back that will detonate them all. Wish I had some sage advice. I've had ants everywhere in my house. Better now, but not perfect.

  • lexie1397

    I see diatomaceous earth suggested here numerous times... you should know that it is not selective. It kills beneficials just as effectively as pests. I LOVE using it indoors where I dont really want any creepy-crawlies, but my family knows that it is NOT allowed outside. Its also not great to breathe so you should wear a mask and keep kids/pets out of the area until the dust settles.

  • hopeforthefuture3

    I just applied DE over my vegetable garden due to ant infestation, then wouldn't you know it, we had a sprinkle of rain. The sun is out now. Do you think the DE would regain its potency after drying in the rain? It came from the water in the first place, right?

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