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controlling Ants

 
Wenderlynn Bagnall
Posts: 73
Location: United Kingdom
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How do I control ants and stop them from nibbling?
 
Tyler Ludens
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What kind of ants and what are they nibbling?

 
Amit Enventres
Posts: 265
Location: Ohio, USA
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fish food preservation forest garden
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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............
 
Fred Morgan
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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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
Posts: 265
Location: Ohio, USA
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fish food preservation forest garden
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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
 
Isaac Hill
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Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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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
Posts: 73
Location: United Kingdom
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Thanks Isaac but I'd still like to know what is they actually do for us?
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
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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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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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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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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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
Posts: 239
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
Posts: 73
Location: United Kingdom
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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
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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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!

 
Brandon Kirk
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
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
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...
 
John Polk
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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!
 
Patrick Thornson
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?
 
Isabel Garrison
Posts: 4
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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.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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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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