Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
posted 8 years ago
mcmoose wrote: Anyone have any other methods for controlling ants? Thanks for reading!
This got so long I didn't feel right posting it in the DEthread.
If you just need to kill the ants boiling water down the nest works well. If you cannot locate the nest try the borax sugar feed, there are many recipes around for this. For the aphids which are attracting the ants a sharp stream of water a couple times a week should do them in. Once the aphids are gone the ants will move on the next easy source of food. Ants are quite beneficial so unless you really need them dead I would also point out that the ants are just doing what ants do. In this case exploiting the aphids.
An example of how permaculture can/might change the way you think about these types of problems: At first glance it appears to me like the real problem is the aphids. The over abundance of aphids attacking your plants are being exploited by the ants as a source of food. Unfortunately because this is a beneficial relationship for both; the ants actively work to increase the aphid population. So if the aphids would leave/die so would the ants solving the ant problem.
However if we dig a little deeper I think you will find your real problem comes from one of two places. Scenario 1. Your plants being eaten by the aphids are over fertilized or stressed out in some fashion: being over fertilized would cause sweet sap and lush juicy growth, perfect food for aphids. Under scenario one here I look to aphids as indicators of too much fertilizer or sick plants, either way what we need is a deeper/better understanding of what is going on with the plants.
Assuming no real problems with your plants or no noticeable problems with your plants anyway you might be in Scenario 2. Scenario 2 is that coincidence just happened to bring you all the local aphids. This is possible, I live right next to a field and as it dries up for summer and eventually gets mowed the aphids come looking for something better to eat. In my case I noticed a couple of years ago that the dandelions get the bulk of the aphids in my yard when the migration occurs so I make sure to keep some around, especially around the plants that used to get hit the worst. As more good bugs have made my back yard home I find the sudden impact from the influx greatly reduced. I have also noticed each year I have less problems with aphids at all as my plants continue to get healthier and stronger.
"Study books and observe nature. When the two don't agree, throw out the books" -William A Albrecht
"You cannot reason a man out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." - Benjamin Franklin
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