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controlling Ants

 
Posts: 73
Location: United Kingdom
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How do I control ants and stop them from nibbling?
 
master pollinator
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What kind of ants and what are they nibbling?

 
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Here's a general rule for pests:

Ask: why are they where they are doing what they are doing?
Then figure out how to make it not worth their while.

So, if you have ants searching for water (because your faucet is the only source) then try sprinkling salt all around the area. They will no longer be able to quench their thirst or take water from that area.

And so on...

Good luck!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Or you could provide another water source where they won't bug you, like outdoors somewhere......

You know, that "sharing" thing............
 
steward
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The real apex predator of the jungle is ants, and they are a battle. I don't mind sharing, but they bite and leave welts, etc. My cure is boiling water poured into the anthill. I tried other treatments, nothing comes even close. Since I have wood fired kilns (rocket style), I can always boil some water anytime they appear.

Does not work with a large leaf cutter hill though, unless back up with a water truck... lol

Most things I am on a live and let live basis, but bite me and it is war!!!
 
Amit Enventres
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The problem with "sharing" is your adding an additional resource specifically for them. Which isn't really sharing - it's like feeding the raccoons table scraps. I like letting the wildlife remain as wild as possible :p
 
gardener
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I believe that good ol' Sepp has called ants the regulators of the soil... I believe that. They perform some very important functions and I would be wary of destroying their homes. Better to give them what they want and let them be in my book.
 
Wenderlynn Bagnall
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Thanks Isaac but I'd still like to know what is they actually do for us?
 
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Location: west central Florida
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Ants aerate & fertilize the soil. I generally leave them alone but if I need them to vacate an area I make a solution of compost tea, citrus oil, and molasses. It kills them without hurting plants or degrading the soil. If interested, I'll send the recipe.
 
Fred Morgan
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Isaac Hill wrote:I believe that good ol' Sepp has called ants the regulators of the soil... I believe that. They perform some very important functions and I would be wary of destroying their homes. Better to give them what they want and let them be in my book.



Good ole Sepp doesn't live in the jungle. What the ants want, is ME!

Imagine not being able to put your hands in the soil because they will swarm up you and bite you, without controlling them, it is what you get. I tend to be pretty much live and let live, the birds enjoy my figs, bananas, plantains, etc. But if you come for me, it is WAR!!!

But, purely organic. Boiling them alive just seems appropriate after having 30 bites that itch like crazy...
 
Tyler Ludens
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Nick Garbarino wrote:Ants aerate & fertilize the soil. I generally leave them alone but if I need them to vacate an area I make a solution of compost tea, citrus oil, and molasses. It kills them without hurting plants or degrading the soil. If interested, I'll send the recipe.



Could you post the recipe in this thread?

Thanks!
 
Nick Garbarino
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Location: west central Florida
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For earth-friendly ant control, add 2-3 tablespoons each of compost tea, citrus oil, and molasses to 1 gallon of unchlorinated water. Drench ant mounds or spray for squash bug control. This is a home-made version of Garden-Ville Fire Ant Control, sold commercially. In addition to controlling these pests without harming plants or soil life, it smells great for several hours.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you!

 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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You're welcome Tyler. And to clarify just a bit, that's 2-3 tablespoons of concentrated compost tea. This requires a bit of patience, (or planning) because you have to wait 2-3 days for fresh tea to brew first. The funny thing for me is that I purchased a half dozen liters of orange oil 3 years ago, but now that I am much more tolerant of ants, I'm not going through it very fast at all. There are other pest spray solutions that use it as an ingredient, but I am just amazed at how few bug problems we have here in Florida. 4 huge tomato plants loaded with big red tomatos, all right next to each other, organically grown, and not a single bug eating any of them? Never seen that before. My best guess is that it is because we are deep in the woods, and predators are so abundant here that the bad bugs don't have much of a chance.
 
Wenderlynn Bagnall
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Thanks Nick for enlightening me about what ants do. I suppose it makes sense they aerate the soil with their little burrows in the ground. How do I make compost tea?
 
Nick Garbarino
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When I lived in Texas, I could always tell where the fire ant mounds were because the grass was taller and greener. They must have lots of decomposing organic matter down in those ant hills, feeding any plant roots within reach.

Here are some of my favorite aerobic compost tea recipes:

For trees and shrubs, I make a fungi-dominated tea using 1 liter of finished black cow manure compost (Black Kow works fine), placed in a 5 gallon bucket and filled with unchlorinated water. Add 2 tablespoons of molasses (syrup, sugar, brown sugar will all do in a pinch), a half teaspoon of epsom salt, and 1000 mg of vitamin C foor good luck. Aerate with an aquarium pump and tubing with no air stone for 24-72 hours depending on temperature until a foamy head is formed. That's the fungi. Air stones make tiny bubbles that break apart the fungi. Remove the air tubing and let stand for a minute, then decant the liquid into another 5 gallon bucket, leaving the dense solids behind in the bottom of the first bucket. You can put that on your compost pile or sheet mulch. Strain the decanted liquid with a fish net, then pour it into a 30 gallon trash can and fill it up with unchlorinated water. It is now ready for you to foliar feed using a watering can. The aerated solution is safe to get on your hands, etc. The trick to using tubing with no air stone is to put a tee on the end of the tubing and slip a nut, washer, or something heavy down the tubing until it stops on the tee. Steel nuts probably corrode a tiny bit and add a small amount of iron which is good to have. Don't use a copper nut as too much copper is toxic. Anyway, this is how you can keep the tubing on the bottom of the bucket. Any compost will do, but cow manure compost has more fungi than most others. If I want to make a really low pH solution for acid lovers, I use leaf mold instead of compost, and reduce the molasses to 1 table spoon.

For annuals, I use the recipe above but I add 1 lb of fish puree, which I produce with my bass-o-matic (that's my "special" blender that my wife says I can have all to myself). I also up the epsom salt to 2 full tablespoons to aid in the breakdown of the fish. This recipe is a bit stinky, so you may need to warn your neighbors ahead of time, if they're close. This is a really good, high nitrogen recipe for growing veggies. It will turn crappy soil into pretty good instantly. I try a little harder not to splash this recipe on myself, not because it's unsafe, it's just stinky.

I started out surfing the web for recipes, where you can find many, and I have refined my technique over time. In Austin, TX you can purchase aerobic tea starter solution that is just fungi, but I think a diverse microherd is better. Aerobic compost tea is a thousand times better than old-fashioned anaerobic compost tea. I never make anaerobic tea, and it is not nearly as safe to handle as aerobic tea.

So, let microbiology be your friend! Have fun with it!

 
Posts: 3
Location: Dallas, TX
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You can make a barrier by dusting a perimeter with food grade diatomaceous earth. That should keep a lot of them away.

www.brgreenlawncare.com
 
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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DE works for little ants, for a little while, until they find a route around it.

For big ants, it works for less than a day, and by then they've spread it so thin, they can walk right over it. It does slow the big ants down a bit if you can do a ring of DE around their nest, but again, this works about a day or 2.

In my area, the ant beds are devoid of life. Big barren wastelands. I am sure they serve a role somewhere, but not up my pant leg...
 
steward
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I have read that if you sprinkle corn meal around their nest, they will gladly carry it back to the nest to share with the colony. When they consume it, their stomach fluids make it swells up inside them. Death by constipation!
 
Posts: 147
Location: Zone Five, B.C., Western Canada.
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Help! I have tiny sugar ants coming into my kitchen.
Deterrents? Vinegar? Bay leaves? Cayenne?

What actually works?
 
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I try to live and let live when i can. Black ants are useful and aren't really much of a pest, so I leave them alone as long as they don't move in too close to the garden.

Fire ants like to bite me, so they get the Diatomaceous Earth treatment, usually dispensed when I'm cutting grass. I carry a container of it on the lawnmower. Take a stick to stir up the hill a bit and expose the egg chambers just under the surface. Then BAM! Dump on the DE and be generous! Ants will feel compelled to save the eggs and end up getting sliced up by the DE. It doesn't kill them all, but it makes a pretty good dent and disrupts their life cycle.
 
Posts: 1947
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In the kitchen I fill a spray bottle with vinegar, a few drops of soap, a half teaspoon of clove oil and a half teaspoon of peppermint oil. I spray the areas where they come in and where they walk around, wipe it thoroughly, and spray it again without wiping. This works for me.

If I get into an ant nest as I'm gardening I move to another area quickly. They swarm right up arms and legs and bite like crazy.

In the soil ants one of the things ants do is to move soil bits around as they make their tunnels, aerating it as they go.
 
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Thanks, Ants are very tiny insect they like to live in the colony and attracted by sugar and scent so you to clean your house. keep dry your house it also attracts ants. Either you could use the typical ants spray, the spray will only kill a few and scatter the colony. Actually, ants seeking food in your house they attract to smell.
 
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Barriers made from used coffee grounds work plus they're free and safe. I had a friend that would always say she needed to gives the ants an "offering" of food so that they would leave her food alone and this works too. Of course its sounds silly and isn't a real solution but it works. When you're outdoors in an area with ants that are quick on the take for food, by throwing a bit somewhere close by you can often distract them long enough for you to enjoy your food in peace without having to kill them. I do this every bbq session now out of habit.  
 
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What do people think about borax and honey? It works really well, but I'm not sure if it could cause any problems.

As mentioned ants are good in most situations, however they should not be trusted with electricity and nobody wants a bull ant nest where they need to walk everyday.
 
pollinator
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Chris Wang wrote:What do people think about borax and honey? It works really well, but I'm not sure if it could cause any problems.


I use borax in my house every few years when the ants get a bit too brash. I put it in the lid of a plastic bottle and put it under the sink, etc, far from where the dog can get. (toxic to pets, he generally doesn't eat things like this but better safe than sorry). Within 24h generally all the ants are gone. I don't do this near my food storage, only on the floor.
I know it's not an innocuous substance but considering my other alternatives it's the best option.
Outside, I will dump boiling water on an anthill to make leafcutters move on. You need to keep a good eye on them after though, to make sure they go where you want them to be and not someplace even worse (i.e. they stopped eating my asparagus beans and then decided to go for my citrus).
 
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Chris Wang wrote:What do people think about borax and honey? It works really well, but I'm not sure if it could cause any problems.



What do I think?  Sparingly.  

Borax is a biocide and is mildly toxic to human health.  It's a darn sight better than many of our household chemicals, but I keep it for emergencies.  I use it (no need for honey, just sprinkle some on the floor where the ant path is and they will take it back home) for extreme cases - usually the first year I live in a house.  

I also put a teaspoon of borax in the kitchen floor washing water once a year.  

A box of borax lasts me 8 to 10 years (I use it for ants, moth repellant on stored clothes and carpets, and improving the soil in specific circumstances)

The best solution for ants is to stop them from coming in the house.  Find out what kind of ants they are and remove what's attracting them.  It takes about two summers before the ants get the idea and don't bother my home anymore.  
 
pollinator
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I am in Florida, and there are ant unions here, the ants don't fight other ants and they invade with a vengence.

My solution has been with the boric acid powder,  I get a plastic container and drill holes in the side of it and then put the mix inside.    It helps protect the mix from pets  and from decay the ants adore it.     Since I have been doing this the ant population has come down dramatically and I don't have the aphid problems as before.

Links for Boric acid pwd  mix ->


http://naturalfarminghawaii.net/2016/07/kill-little-red-fire-ants-on-contact-homebrew-pesticides/

http://thegardeningcook.com/testing-borax-ant-killer-remedies/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEljeerJ0lw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dLyJJxbEV8
http://www.shtfpreparedness.com/10-ways-to-kill-ants-organically/
http://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-control-ants-in-your-garden-naturally-and-safely/
http://thegardeningcook.com/testing-borax-ant-killer-remedies/
https://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play?p=youtube+video+orange+oil+fire+ants&vid=0a3007381286099dcedbf32d6bd50e72&l=2:25&turl=http://ts3.mm.bing.net/th%3Fid%3DVN.607992774902942330%26pid%3D15.1&rurl= http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DMP7wa7C81jg&tit=Org
http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=rocj2RntFrg&u=/watch%3Fv%3DSyg8zBeu7Gw%26feature%3Dshare
http://www.gardenstew.com/threads/killing-fire-ants-the-experiment-corn-meal-corn-starch.25532/

https://www.facebook.com/lists/1423211134601742
http://www.stacymakescents.com/homemade-ant-bait
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=AVCp40rb94I&u=/watch%3Fv%3DJ_lUArCkkDM%26feature%3Dshare[/youtube]
http://www.dollopsofdiane.com/2012/03/homemade-ant-killer.html

Staff note (Dan Boone):

Note: Here is a link that may work as a substitute for the Youtube link that appears broken in this post:

 
Posts: 201
Location: North Coast Dominican Republic
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Fred Morgan wrote:

Isaac Hill wrote:I believe that good ol' Sepp has called ants the regulators of the soil... I believe that. They perform some very important functions and I would be wary of destroying their homes. Better to give them what they want and let them be in my book.



Good ole Sepp doesn't live in the jungle. What the ants want, is ME!

Imagine not being able to put your hands in the soil because they will swarm up you and bite you, without controlling them, it is what you get.  I tend to be pretty much live and let live, the birds enjoy my figs, bananas, plantains, etc. But if you come for me, it is WAR!!!

But, purely organic. Boiling them alive just seems appropriate after having 30 bites that itch like crazy...



Why are they where they are, doing what they do? In the case of the tropical fire ant, the answer is: because they are everywhere, defending their nest. Now, the responses coming from Florida, I am inclined to take as being possibly more relevant to my situation, since Florida has the Southern fire ant. Like the tropical fire ant, it is a multiple nest species, with all the nests for acres or even miles around being one supercolony. And unless the nest happens to be in a patch of bare soil, you can't see it until you've already dug into it, by which time it's too late -- they're already swarming and biting you. Sure is tempting to get out the toxic gick... but since I want my posts actually to be published, I will instead investigate whether those Florida solutions are feasible for me. Where to get citrus oil in the Dominican Republic? I haven't seen it in any of the places I normally go. Is this something I could extract myself, from the sour oranges that grow around here? I know I'm not going to eradicate them; I just want to clear the spot where I need to work, long enough to get the work done. As of now, I have not found an effective, permaculture-approved solution.
 
Jason Hernandez
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r ranson wrote:
The best solution for ants is to stop them from coming in the house.  Find out what kind of ants they are and remove what's attracting them.  It takes about two summers before the ants get the idea and don't bother my home anymore.  



Ah, life in the tropics. Whenever there is a heavy rain at night, I see the flying termites appear out of nowhere. I think they are a subterranean species; they don't look like the ones that I have to keep from trying to eat my house. But in my pole-and-plank house, with single walls, there are ample spaces for wind, lizards, insects, etc., to come and go as they please. So, the termite swarms come in when it rains, and the fire ants have a field day with the termites that fall on the floor -- black splotches moving around are the fire ant clusters carrying off dismembered termites. It's quite a spectacular nature experience; but it does mean that setting foot on the floor is hazardous, because they would gladly swarm me the same way they swarm the termites.
 
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I didn't see what the ants are doing that is annoying, but the one thing I know that works wonders when black ants are using a tree or plant to harvest aphids, is to mulch around the plant with an inch of worm castings out to the drip line.

I learned this in a fruit tree pruning class, and I have been using worm castings around my fruit trees for a couple years now. I went from having a terrible problem with ant infestations to literally none. This doesn't kill them, but they don't like the worm castings so go elsewhere.
 
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Hej!

A somewhat related question. Does anyone have any experience with plants that ants *really* hate- hate enough that they'll abandon a mound if you plant whatever it might be around the mound? I've got a big mound in my zone 1 that I really want to get rid of, but if possible I'd like to try convincing them to go somewhere else, rather than just destroying the colony- though that is  a plan 'B'  option, if needs be.
 
Jason Hernandez
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Kali Hermitage wrote:I didn't see what the ants are doing that is annoying,



What they are doing that is annoying is biting me, en masse, if I step on, or insert my tool into, the nest that they had so well camouflaged that I couldn't see it.
 
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