How to Get Rid of Ants in Vegetable Garden | Are Ants Bad for Plants?

If you are a home gardener trying to cultivate organic fruits and vegetables at home to avoid the ones available in supermarkets, you must be tormented by pests and insects that invade your beloved garden.

Ants are among such insects, seen frequenting vegetable gardens causing more harm than good. If your garden is infested by ants and you are wondering how to get rid of ants in vegetable garden, read on. We have brought some of the most effective solutions for you.

In the stressful and mechanical world that we live in, nothing compares to the freshness that gardening can bring into your life. In addition to being a huge stressbuster and helping you to remain mentally healthy, gardening at home also gives you the opportunity of consuming plenty of organic fruits and vegetables.

Having your own backyard, lawn, or roof garden means being able to say no to vegetables available in local groceries and supermarkets, which are usually bred for their firmness, larger size, or shinier appearance.

However, gardening has its cons. A home gardener, especially a new one, is always preoccupied with trying to troubleshoot the seemingly endless problems that come with a backyard or lawn garden.

Also Read: How to Keep birds Away from Tomatoes?

Whether it is some unknown disease driving your crops towards an untimely death, or some notorious insect, pest, or rodent eating up on your desired harvest, gardening problems do not seem to end.

The appearance of ants in your garden is a tricky problem. At times, ants help you in more ways than they can cause trouble. Acting as a blessing in disguise, they eat up the more harmful pests and protect your crops.

However, when too many in number, these ants become a really serious threat. From spreading out of the garden to invade your house, and giving you painful stings, to feasting on the nectar-filled flowers and eating garden fruits and vegetables before you, ants can be really annoying when their colonies start to spread out.

In such cases getting rid of the ants becomes imperative. Most gardeners fail to find an effective solution to this annoying problem and often, the matter goes out of hand.

Everyone has something to say regarding how to kill ants and suggest their own little hacks, but most of them do not work. However, your days of confusion and frustration are about to end. In this article, we have arranged the most effective solutions to your problem for your benefit.

Ant Infestation: Curse or Boon?

Before heading on to the ways of getting rid of ants and suggesting ways of assassinating their whole colonies, let us first discuss a more primary question: are ants bad for plants? It isn’t an easy question to answer.

Ants do not necessarily have to be harbingers of everything bad for your garden. At times ants help us in protecting our gardens against more harmful pests by enjoying them for meals.

They can also act as pollinating agents and thereby increase your harvest. On the other hand, ants can be dangerous, too. They can act as promoting agents for pests that seriously damage crops.

Ants can also invade your house, spreading out from your garden, especially if you have a garden on your balcony or roof. Living with these tiny arthropods can be dangerous as they do not have any sense of privacy.

From invading your kitchen, bedroom, and practically every other room of your house, they can also encroach upon your snacks and any other food left out in the open. Keeping them away from any section of your house can be really difficult if they have once come inside.

Apart from this, ants are also dangerous because of their painful sting. Just like us, they too find the sweet blossoms and juicy fruits hanging from garden vines attractive and might try to feed on them.

The sweet sap of plants is also a favourite delicacy for these tiny insects. A colony of ants sucking on the stem of your plant for its sweet sap can girdle the plant and eventually kill it.

Also Read: Why Are My Carrots Not Growing?

It can therefore be said that ants are neither your friends nor your foes. In fact, they are both. While protecting your gardens against some dangers, they pose some other threats. In some cases, ants are not harmful at all.

All they do is maintain a good ecological balance and help your plants thrive and fruit. However, in other cases, they harbor dangerous pests and crowd your homes and gardens, encroaching upon your property, and causing health problems to you.

Whether to kill them or not is therefore a matter that has to be decided keeping your specific situation in mind, and the impact the ants are having on your garden.

Check this out: How to Pollinate Eggplants?

Why Should You Get Rid Of Ants?

Now that you know how ants can impact your garden, you might be in a dilemma regarding whether or not to drive them out. The solution to this dilemma is right here. Here is a list of reasons explaining why are ants bad for vegetable garden.

  1. Ants can feed on the sweet fruits and vegetables in your garden, reducing your harvest greatly. When an entire colony of ants decides to feast on the delicious sweet fruits of your garden, saving your desired harvest from these notorious insects can be very difficult.
  2. They form colonies and spread out in large numbers all across the garden. This encroachment can be painful as it would signify frequent bites and stings during the harvesting season. Harvesting your labored-after produce would therefore become a painful experience.
  3. Ants from your garden can easily encroach your living space when their numbers increase. Once they have started to claim your home, they would attack every morsel of food left in the open. Saving your precious sweets and delicious snacks from ants would become impossible.
  4. Certain varieties of ants, especially the fire ants are infamous for their stings. These ants are quick to sting whenever they find anything threatening. Their stings are really painful and can take several days to heal. The bites of carpenter ants, though not equally dangerous, produce a burning sensation because of the citric acid that they pour into the wound.
  5. Ants are extremely industrious creatures. They feed on insect deposits on plants which is a sweet treat for them. To keep enjoying this treat, ants often ‘farm’ these insects, moving them from place to place in the garden, and protecting them from other predators. Needless to say, these insects are much more harmful for your plants and would destroy your garden in no time.

How to Stop Ants Eating Plants?

Although some ants can do some good for your garden, it is better to get rid of them before they become nuances. After you have spotted a line of worker ants covering your little plants it is natural to get panicked.

There are several organic methods to get rid of ants without actually harming the environment by using chemicals that are harmful for your health. It is always advisable to avoid the use of insecticides, as along with killing the ants, they would also kill the other bugs and helpful pests that help in protecting your garden.

Keeping ants away from your plants, especially the delicate ones, or the ones on raised beds is a really difficult task, as you would also have to make sure that the quality of the produce is not hampered.

To make sure that your organic garden does remain completely organic till the end, do not use chemical based insecticides found in the markets. Wondering how to keep ants out of raised garden beds using only organic products? Do not fret.

There might be a lot of ways by which you can kill ants but all are not reliable. In a war with the ants, you have to choose the battles. Killing the ants that walked on the garden and surface or your trees won’t help you. They are just workers.

The root of the problem is the Queen and the larvaé. As long as the Queen keeps making new ants, no matter how many workers die they will keep attacking your plants. You have to kill the nest that houses the queen, larvaé, and cocoons. By using the following methods you can try to get rid of ants from your garden:

#1 Using Water:

Yes, ants can be killed by just using water. If you see new ant colonies starting to form in your garden just boil some water in a container and pour the whole thing over their hills and kill them. But this process will only work if the ants are less in number.

If ants are larger in number that means that the mound is deep. It may take several applications of boiling water to eradicate a deep ant colony. Some may not even fully drown. This method is very effective and least time-consuming.

If you are not sure that the water is getting through the nest, try digging up the nest before applying boiling water. Keep repeating this method until you are completely sure that you have got ridden of all the ants.

#2 Apply citrus essence:

Collect peelings of citrus fruits such as lemon, orange, lime, etc. Make a smooth paste of the peels and mix them with water. Discard the liquid concoction and keep the rest of the water. Spray the water over the ant nest. This is a very effective method against carpenter ants and other small ants.

#3 Spraying borax and bait:

You can kill ants by using a mixture of sugar and borax. The sugar easily attracts them and they eat the mixture. That is when the borax kills them. This is also an easy step that requires very little labor.

Make the mixture and place it near the populated areas of your garden or near the nests. When ants ingest borax they start to get affected from outside. Add a little cornmeal to make it sticky. It ensures that the borax will get carried to the queen by the workers, eventually killing the whole colony.

#4 Dishwasher gel mixed with oil:

Dishwashing gel and oil mix together can kill ants efficiently. They get soaked up by the exoskeletons of the ants eventually suffocating them. Take any brand of tissue and mix it with half a teaspoon of olive oil or canola oil.

Mix some water to make the liquid fluid enough for the spray machine. Pour it in a spray machine and spray it on the ant-infested portions of your garden. Then pour the whole thing on the nest of the ants. The best thing to do is repeat this process until ants are completely eradicated.

#5 Sugar and boric acid:

You can kill ants also by using boric acid. Mix boric acid with sugar and create a paste. Apply the paste near ant nest entrances. The sugar will attract the worker ants. The worker ants will then carry the sugar mixed with boric acid to the queen and the larvaé. In time, it will kill the whole colony.

#6 Using pepper powder:

You can also drive ants away by using a different type of pepper that releases a very hot smell. This hot pepper called cayenne messes with the signals of the ants. It drives them crazy and makes them go away.

#7 Hot cereals:

Buy any brand of hot cereals that increases in size when mixed with water. Leave them near your garden to be eaten by the ants. After ingesting the hot cereals the ants die when it expands in their stomach.

These completely organic methods are just what you need to make your garden completely ant-free. These are extremely effective and require no chemical pesticides that are harmful for your health. Use these to rid your garden of these annoying pests and make sure that you can bag a healthy and bountiful harvest at the end of the season.

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