While ants do serve some benefit to your garden by controlling the population of other pests and improving plant pollination by marching from flower to flower while searching for food, they’re also a major nuisance pest. If you’re tired of finding ants in your plants, keep reading to learn natural, pet-safe ways to get rid of ants from your garden.
Natural, Pet-Safe Ways To Get Rid of Ants
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a non-toxic, eco-friendly, and very inexpensive product that works wonders against ants and other common household pests. Diatomaceous earth is a fine powder made from the remains of fossilized algae, called diatoms. The powder contains tiny microscopic pieces that are razor-sharp. These particles work by cutting the exoskeleton of ants and other insects that walk through them. Once the insect’s exoskeleton has been pierced by the diatomaceous earth, it will eventually dehydrate and die. While this is deadly to ants, to humans and pets, diatomaceous earth just feels like a soft, fine powder.
Note: If you’re planning to use diatomaceous earth in places where your pet frequents often – opt for food grade diatomaceous earth! This type of DE is safe for both human and animal consumption.
How to apply Diatomaceous Earth to your garden to get rid of ants:
- Water your plants then dust them generously with the diatomaceous earth. The moisture from watering will help the powder stick to your plants.
- Lift up potted plants and sprinkle DE under each planter. As an extra measure you can sprinkle the powder over the soil of the plant, too.
- If you notice ant hills or trails, sprinkle DE along the trails and on and around the hills.
- Keep some extra DE on hand to reapply for when it’s washed away by watering, sprinklers, and rainfall.
Dilute vinegar with water (50/50) in a spray bottle. Test your solution on your plants by spraying a small spot of the vinegar mixture and waiting a day or two to note any burn marks on the plants. If your plant doesn’t react to the vinegar, spray the solution generously over the rest of the plant. Vinegar works by killing ants immediately on contact.
An less harsh but also less effective alternative to the vinegar spray is to use lemon juice. Dilute the lemon juice with water (50/50) in a spray bottle and spray over your plants. The lemon juice works by destroying the scent trails of ants, deterring them from crawling all over your plants.
Ants don’t like cinnamon so while it won’t kill them, they will stay away from it. Sprinkle cinnamon around your garden and under your flower pots to keep ants away. As a bonus, other garden pests like rabbits, squirrels, and even moles are deterred by cinnamon, too.
While not a very effective solution, there are many essential oils that may help repel ants off your plants that are relatively pet-safe. These include
- clove bud
- tea tree
These oils should be diluted appropriately per the directions on the bottle of the product and applied directly onto plants and soil, away from pets. Keep pets away from the plants until the essential oil solution of your choosing has completely dried!
Mix together a teaspoon of borax and about 5 ounces of syrup or sugar water in a small cup. Place this mixture outside, where ants will find it but where it is well away from the reach of curious pets – this is a natural solution but still toxic if ingested! Once consumed by ants, the borax will work as a slow-acting poison, damaging the ants digestive systems resulting in death.
If you’re a frequent coffee drinker, get into the habit of sprinkling your leftover grounds into and around your garden! Ants are repelled by the scent given off by coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are also full of minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium – so they provide a benefit to the soil in your garden, too!
Draw a line of chalk around your garden or flower pots to create a barrier that ants aren’t likely to cross. It’s not well-known whether ants don’t like chalk because of the calcium carbonate in it or because it interrupts their scent trails but it does seem to work. As a bonus, you can put your kids in charge of pest control by having them ensure your plants are protected by their creative sidewalk doodles.
Is the ant problem in your garden out of control?
If you’ve tried multiple methods of ant control and are finding ants are taking over your garden and possibly even your home, it may be time to call in the pros. Give go2-pros extermination a call. Our ant experts can help you get rid of ants for good.