we live on a small farm, and as a rule don't kill anything just because it is here. That includes bugs, unless they are eating the vegetable garden. But over the last couple years, the ants have been multiplying. We ignored it until it couldn't be ignored anymore. We are also organic, obviously or I probably wouldn't be here in this forum. This year it has come to the point of having to do something about it. AT any one place in most of the yrard and the horse pastures, you can lean down and be within reach of twenty ant hills. All the ants are not the same. We even have some fire ants, although we scooped out dirt and burned places we found them.
Thsi year we have had ants in the house three times already, as opposed to never before I can really recall. The garden is infested and they are happily farming aphids all over my plants. I tried weeding in a flower bed and was covered by ants.
I bought twenty pounds of D earth and have been spreading it around. In the house, great,around the house, great too. garden and yard, not so great. I spread it over the mounds and the next day they are happily building more. I realize the morning dew deactivates it, but how can I get this to work. There are hundreds, at least of mounds. I can't cover them all every day. I have been working in groups but don't seem to be making ground. Am I doing something wrong, or do I need to be doing it a different way. Knowing ants have more biomass on the earth than people, this is getting kind of creepy.
Hi Lilacgirl I like to use boric acid when ants invade the greenhouse or the biology building. I first put out some sugar water bait or use karo syrup. Put short containers of the sugar water near the ant trails, let them get use to feeding over a couple of days. Add boric acid powder to the sugar solution and replace to the orginal site. They will continue to feed and will bring it back to the nest to feed the queen. You will need to keep an eye on the containers, animals enjoy eatting the solution also, but shouldn't harm them. You will see the number of ants decress pretty quickly.
Thanks you Bill, but with the horses grazing in the pastures and the dog in the yard who eats and/or licks anything, I can't go the route of boric acid, although I did a lot of reading about it. it is not something I want any of the animals to ingest, even in small amounts.
I am sure the plants are stressed, since it semi-flooded already and then went to unseasonably hot dry weather. But as long as the ants are protecting the aphids, the ladybugs can't even do their job. I am not going to let the ants run the garden in an effort to not kill them.
I agree to a point about killing ants, until they are invading the house, whether threatening or not, and when I can't even lean down in the flower bed and weed without being crawled all over. It has gotten ridiculous this year in the amount of ant hills, they are LITERALLY everywhere, and the population needs to be brought back under control. We have already decided that.
My question is how to get the DE to work, or another organic method.
If you plant tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) around where they are entering the house, it will repel them. The DE will not work unless you can keep it dry. Another safe/sane way to cut the populations is to sprinkle corn meal around their holes. The workers will take it home, where everybody will feast out on their last meal. It will swell up inside their guts. Like DE, this must also be kept dry.
OK, two directions to try! Thank you!! SInce realizingt his was going to be this much of an issue, I have been looking into what to plant in the garden and around the house next year. I will add Tansy to the list.
My last post does not really make much sense, except that I was replying to a post that the poster must have deleted afterwards. Sorry.
I will certainly try maybe both of these in different areas and see how they work. We don't want to kill every last ant either, but reduce the population.
Hi Lilac, Just checking in to see how your ant challenge goes. As I read the post I was thinking of what--besides anteaters--are natural predators for ants. Being overrun by ants like you are means something's out of balance in the system.
Here are a few natural predators of ants. Are any of these animals conspicuously MIA at your place? Jumping spiders, lizards, snakes, birds--especially flickers, wrens, and sparrows.
Just a huge FYI...tansy will kill your livestock...it is highly poisonous. Here is some info from ghorganics.com:
TANSY: Plant with fruittrees, roses and raspberries keeping in mind that it can be invasive and is not the most attractive of plants. Tansy which is often recommended as an ant repellant may only work on sugar type ants. These are the ones that you see on peonies and marching into the kitchen. At least for us placing tansy clippings by the greenhouse door has kept them out. Deters flying insects, Japanese beetles, striped cucumber beetles, squash bugs, ants and mice! Tie up and hang a bunch of tansy leaves indoors as a fly repellent. Use clippings as a mulch as needed. Don't be afraid to cut the plant up as tansy will bounce back from any abuse heaped on it! It is also a helpful addition to the compost pile with its' high potassium content.
Tansy Warning: You do not want to plant Tansy anywhere that livestock can feed on it as it is toxic to many animals. Do not let it go to seed either as it may germinate in livestock fields.
Hope this helps. We have been having quite an ant issue as well, and have found that boiling water helps...but it needs to be done everyday until there are no more.
Small pigeon sized bantam hens are 95% insectivoreous according to mother Earth news. And regular sized chickens are also fond of bugs. Letting chickens eat the bugs would be much simpler than figuring out how to poison them. If natural predators are a problem for the chickens you could also include some guinea fowl as they are very belligerent and aggressive toward intruders. They will also dig and scratch to a greater depth than the small chickens will. We used to graze chickens in the garden with them only occasionally sampling the vegetables. They were more interested in slugs and other pests.
The Greenhouse of the Future ebook by Francis Gendron