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June 2010
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Kitchen Garden – Damage ants can do, and steps to remove ants from your garden – tips and techniques

A lot of people will argue that ants really don’t do any direct damage to plants, and they would be right; but, when you consider the overall structure that ants build up in a garden, they can really cause damage in an indirect way. Ants build nests, and these nests cause damage to anything in the soil at that location, which means roots, underground tubers, soil structure, all of these can be damaged due to the nests created by ants. And if you have fruits on the trees and plants in your garden, you would always be apprehensive about the damage that these ants can cause to the fruits hanging on the plants. Further, if your kitchen garden is very closely attached to your house, the ants can cause damage inside the house as well, especially if you have some large colonies in your garden. At the same time, when ants are not tunneling near your roots, they can actually turn the soil and improve it to some extent, so don’t reach for a pest control as soon as you see ants in your garden (take a deep breath, and then consider whether they are indeed causing some damage, and then only decide whether you want to take some measures). Some of the ant species such as red ants, fire ants, black ants are indeed counted as pests.
Now, if you have decided that you do want to get ants out of your garden, then there are many steps you can take to get rid of your ‘ant menace’.
– For ant nests, you can treat them with the appropriate spray (after reading the precautions carefully)
– For more organic and natural ways of getting rid of ants:
a) Use a small amount of clove oil with water, and spray this over an ant nest. They will escape from that area
b) Use coffee grounds around plants that have a lot of ants on them, this deters them
c) Rotting wood can increase the amount of ants in the garden, so try and remove wood as much as possible from the garden area
d) When worried about ants crossing into the house, use chalk to draw a line. Ants will not cross the line
e) Dead insects in the garden can attract ants, but the same ants also carry away these dead creatures, so they perform a beneficial function
f) Creating a mixture of less than a teaspoon of borax with sugar or honey gets rid of ants (however, large amounts of borax can also cause damage to smaller animals, so you do need to be careful)
g) Use listerine spray for stopping ants
h) Your garden should not have insects such as aphids, whiteflies and mealybugs, since their excretions are attractive to ants
i) Use a mixture of citrus peelings with water in a blender and then pour this over anthills in your garden
j) Apparently sprinkling dry grits near the ants works, since they eat it, and then when water is consumed, the grit expands killing them

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