Ants in the garden: how to get rid of them

Ants in the garden: how to get rid of them

Ants in the garden can be really unpleasant, there are two negative effects that we must fear and keep these insects away from our crops: they steal the seeds and carry aphids on the plants.

Ants also have some positive functions, which is why it would be better in an organic garden not to exterminate them but to keep them away.

Obviously, even ants like all insects and parasites must be fought with natural methods, without using toxic pesticides and not allowed in organic farming.

The damage caused by ants

The first problem caused by ants in the vegetable garden is that these insects often go to take away the seeds, so they can completely ruin a sowing if it is done in the open field directly at home. It is enough for an ant to notice the presence of seeds for a row of industrious ants to arrive and fill the pantries of the anthill. They are very skilled at brushing seeds completely during the night.

The second nuisance is aphids. The organization of the ants that literally raise these plant lice in order to collect the honeydew is truly incredible. During the winter the ants host the aphid colonies in the anthill and in the spring they deposit them on the plants. Therefore, if you see ants wandering on the plants, be very careful because they could colonize them by carrying aphids.

Positive sides of the presence of ants

The ants dig into the ground, ventilating it, to tell the truth given the size of the tunnels it is not a particularly significant effect but everything contributes to keeping the land to cultivate alive.

These insects eat some insects that can be harmful to our seedlings, especially when they are larvae, so they can keep the soil clean and avoid other damage to the vegetables.

Ants wandering around the vegetable garden can help pollinate the flowers by helping us in cultivation.

Before deciding to fight the ants, one must ask oneself if they are a real problem, or if their presence is limited and tolerable and the small damages they can cause are not compensated by the merits. In general, the method of judgment is quantity, a small colony of ants does not bother, while countermeasures must be taken against an invasion.

Drive the ants out of the garden

Some herbs are considered ant repellents. Let's talk about lavender, marjoram, mint and tansy. Even lettuce, to a lesser extent, seems to discourage these insects. Garlic is also very effective in this sense.

There are various substances that annoy these insects: you can spray the plants with garlic macerate or use chilli or wood ash.

An excellent natural product to ward off ants is macerated mint, which you can self-produce in a very simple and economical way.

A very simple way to keep ants away and without using any treatment is to locate the anthill and physically move it, taking care to destroy it and remove most of the insects. If you do not find the anthill or if it is in an uncomfortable place, you can also try to attract the ants in one place: for example, an overturned terracotta pot heats the earth and creates the ideal environment for an anthill.

How ants are killed

Pyrethrum powder kills ants and is an insecticide allowed in organic farming, obtained from a plant. However, care must be taken because pyrethrum could also kill beneficial insects. Since ants are not a direct damage to the plants in the garden, there is no reason to kill them, the best thing is to always dissuade them by driving them away.

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Matteo Cereda2019-01-11T11: 04: 47 + 01: 00
  1. Bricklayer Giuseppe15 September 2015 at 13:15

    My cauliflowers are all eaten by the critters underground what needs to be done

    • horticulturist15 September 2015 at 13:30

      Hello Joseph. If they eat the plant from below they are not ants, you should understand if they are mice, ferrets or other animals, look near the eaten plant (if they are mice you will find the tunnels). If instead of eaten it has rotted it can be a radical rot. Based on what the problem is, you can find a way to defend yourself.

  2. Marta6 May 2016 at 20:25

    Hi I have to plant some flowers on a flower bed but there are scissors ants under the ground what flowers can I plant that they don't eat?

    • horticulturist7 May 2016 at 13:20

      in theory the earwigs do not do much damage to plants, if they are many, however, you have to drive them away. Try the nettle macerate.

  3. Bruno22 June 2016 at 9:54

    I read with attention how ants are chased away, following your instructions I will try to remove them.

  4. fabrizo22 June 2016 at 13:50

    Hello to all. I noticed that I have overgrown eggplant plants with ants (small and black). seeing some fruit, I noticed that they pierced the green "hat" above the eggplant.
    reading around I did not understand some things very well: it seems that the ants do not spoil the fruits but they manage to "breed" aphids that (they) ruin the plant. but looking closely I didn't see aphids or lice or anything other than the ants.
    in addition to insecticides (which I'm not going to use) I have read various natural remedies, from garlic macerate or "corn balls" (which they say would swell in the ant's stomach and kill it) but I don't know if that's the way to go .
    in reality besides the still small melnzane and ruined sth I don't understand if I have a "problem" or not.
    can you clarify and / or recommend something?
    Hello and thanks to all

    • horticulturist22 June 2016 at 14:00

      The damage of ants to plants already formed is generally so small that it does not deserve intervention, apart from the bad habit of raising aphids. I can't tell you the specific case of your eggplant. If you are in doubt the garlic or nettle macerate is natural, ecological and costs nothing, you can spray it on the plant and in the surrounding 50 cm of soil to dissuade them, repeat the treatment three or four times after a few days.

      • maximum27 June 2016 at 4:17

        I have the exact same problem they are literally devouring my eggplant seedlings ... what to do?

        • horticulturist28 June 2016 at 7:12

  5. Luca9 July 2016 at 14:08

    Taken by despair and a sleepless night, they ate at least 70 80 eggplants, my future boccacci in oil ... I started trying them all, in the end, the only emergency method found, and was, to put a little silver paper at the base of the trunk, fold it a little, putting jelly for the hair, the poor one, jars that do not cost more than one euro per pack, be careful that there are no leaves resting on the ground or other plants touching each other, on one, these inteligentone, have laid stone on stone to make a bridge, therefore, observing once a day, you can always find some leaks to fill ... if I had had a 3D printer I would have built some rings to fit on the base, and then fill them with a little oil but always with a bit of silver paper wrapped on the trunk, sometimes, they go up right from the base of the trunk, they sprout from the roots ... non-poisonous method, I hope I have been of help ...

    • horticulturist10 July 2016 at 11:51

      Good method but beware that the hair gel is not a very natural product ... In case of rain it ends up in the ground and goodbye organic cultivation. One could look for some similar but biodegradable substance.

  6. without6 August 2016 at 10:15

    in my garden the ants have invaded the ivy, covering the branches with black sticky substance and black insects and have dug many anthills under the plants. Is ivy sick?

    • horticulturist6 August 2016 at 12:44

      hello Enza. The ants probably brought the aphids to the ivy, the aphids make the honeydew (the sticky substance) that can make the plant sick. So better drive away the ants and wash the aphids with Marseille soap.

      • Nicoletta21 August 2016 at 12:34

        Hi I have a small chicory crop, the stems are infested with tiny black aphids, what do I do to exterminate them? I also have many ants, now I'm also finding them at home but they are microscopic, what do I do? Thanks hello everyone Nicoletta

        • horticulturist22 August 2016 at 12:51

  7. Federica17 May 2017 at 8:42

    how nice to have discovered this site! I will try your advice to resize an anthill of almost 2 square meters in the middle of my small garden

  8. He knows5 June 2017 at 10:07

    I have a small apple tree, laden with fruit. The fight against ants and aphids is truly unequal. I've tried them all. without appreciable results. The tree is 3 years old and does not grow due to this torment. It occurred to me to try to smear a section at the base of the trunk with mouse glue. Apparently this method works. The hustle and bustle of this insect highway has finally stopped. We'll see if time will prove me right.

    • Matteo Cereda5 June 2017 at 10:15

      The glue for mice is a chemical substance, I do not recommend its use. If you really have to do it, choose a non-poisonous one, otherwise you risk reaping victims among birds and pets, maybe don't spread it directly on the trunk but use a cloth or something else to avoid having the glue directly on the bark.

  9. He knows5 June 2017 at 12:13

    Thanks for your advice. I omitted to say that I had actually thought about it. So I first wrapped the log with a plastic bandage. Greetings and good work

  10. He knows11 June 2017 at 7:53

    Good morning, I'm updating on the mouse glue experiment used to prevent ants from massively attacking my apple tree.
    To date, I have noticed that by now the ants have definitively abandoned it. Even if at the base they continue to keep their nest. They are few and disoriented because I took care to press the log with a layer of ash and coffee grounds. The glue did not damage other insects, just a few flies, wasps and a couple of moths. However, I have noticed that since the ants have abandoned their aphid farm, the seedling has attracted some interest from the wasps. Is it possible that they have the same function as ants? That of moving aphids from one leaf to another? The fact is that the fight against aphids this year is truly unequal. The nebulized nettle macerate only enters the crumpled leaves to a small extent. Meanwhile, most of the ants have moved on to parsley and celery. It had never happened to me that parsley was infested with aphids. But here it is easier to eradicate them since they are at the base of the plants and not on the leaves. The cunning of these industrious insects is remarkable. In this case they try to hide their breeding by pressing the seedlings and covering the heart with a thin layer of light soil.
    Returning to my apple tree, I'm thinking that perhaps the only solution is to cut off all the tips that bear new leaves infested with aphids. Although I'm sorry because despite being the plant full of fruit, it is rather skimpy not being able to create new branches. Do you have any advice for me? Thanks Luisa

    • Matteo Cereda12 June 2017 at 7:58

      Rather than cutting, are you unable to wash off aphids with Marseille soap?

      • He knows12 June 2017 at 16:46

        It might be a great idea. I try immediately. Thanks for your advice

  11. Luca11 June 2017 at 16:41

    My vineyard is invaded by ants, especially some plants; I am afraid that their action could lead to the death of the plants and the reduction of the yield when the clusters begin to be ripe. Currently the vineyard is full of ripening grapes, what treatment do you recommend to eradicate them definitively?

    • Matteo Cereda12 June 2017 at 7:56

      Hi Luca, as a self-produced natural method you can use mint macerate.

  12. Emilio14 June 2017 at 15:19

    I also used non-toxic mouse glue (as it says on the box) for my lemon tree. I put cling film around the trunk and, at the top of the film, I put a string of glue to prevent the passage of the ants. The method seems to work, but I poured a little glue on the trunk, I hope I haven't done any damage to the plant !!!!

  13. renato pani6 July 2017 at 13:28

    Flowering snake green bean seedlings are ravaged by ants. I tried to use insecticide on plants (brand removed, bio insecticide based on neem oil) and allowed in organic farming. Result: when you get wet you kill the ants in action, but after a short time everything returns to the same as before. What to do?

    • Matteo Cereda6 July 2017 at 13:48

      Hi Renato. I deleted the name of the insecticide you used. Do not be offended, I do it because unfortunately if I allowed the mention of commercial products in the comments many companies would make piloted comments just to get visibility, so I adopt this policy.
      However, the product used is correct, organic and effective. Obviously, as you yourself have pointed out, it serves to kill but the ants return. You can try to discourage them with a macerated mint and destroying the nearby anthills, keep in mind that it will take a while for the colony to move with natural methods.

  14. Stefania11 May 2018 at 13:30

    Good morning Matteo I always follow you with a lot of interest. Good boy! I have strawberry seedlings and the ants make their nests under the roots making a pile of earth that reaches halfway up the plant. Do I leave them alone or do I try to push them away? Is it true that they eat the roots? thanks a lot

    • Matteo Cereda11 May 2018 at 15:38

      Hi Stefania, the ants do not eat the roots but they can be very annoying if they decide to make the anthill right on the seedlings, so I advise you to remove them.

  15. giusi passardi18 May 2018 at 17:31

    I sowed chicory and spinach herbs, but nothing comes up and I noticed the ants walking happily in the flowerbed, scattering crushed lavender can you really remove them? Thanks, giusi

    • Matteo Cereda19 May 2018 at 17:52

      Hi Giusi, lavender is repellent, but it is not necessarily enough to drive them away, usually a stinking mint macerate works better.

  16. Riccardo22 May 2018 at 11:36

    Hello, I read your article and followed the advice but the ants are always there, tenacious. They have invaded a corner of the garden where I keep the herbs, including those listed as repellent :)
    It seems that the anthill is under a rather large bush of sage, which in fact is dying. I tried the garlic and nettle macerates but they didn't work. I am thinking about eradicating the sage (I fear this operation will kill it but if I leave it there it will not last long since every two days I find a new wilted section), can it be a good solution? Once the anthill is uncovered, what can I do? The boiling water trick is not practicable because the garden is far from home.
    Last thing: I have several mint plants in that corner ... are they enough or do you say that I should try the mint macerate?

    • Matteo Cereda22 May 2018 at 22:28

      The macerate is much more fetid and repellent than the plant. However, it is not guaranteed to drive away the ants, sage is a hardy plant, it would probably withstand the transplant even out of season.

  17. Mattia18 May 2020 at 23:14

    Hi, I wanted to ask you for help and advice to eliminate ants from my garden. Especially how to get them away from zucchini. This morning I had a beautiful flower open on the courgette plant, in the evening the flower was invaded inside and out by hundreds of these cursed insects. They're driving me out of my mind. I find them everywhere, even on other vegetables and on lemon. Do you have any advice for me?

    • Matteo Cereda19 May 2020 at 0:04

      I can't tell you more than what you read in the article. Unfortunately, ants are difficult to remove with natural methods and it is certainly not worth introducing poisons into the environment.

  18. joseph21 July 2020 at 9:06

    attention from my personal experience, I don't know if it is part of organic farming, but wash the ants with lemon dish soap and you will see ... !! Active species for citrus fruits :.

    • Matteo Cereda22 July 2020 at 16:38

      You need to check the soap, to understand if it is a remedy that is harmful to the soil, but it certainly does not fall within organic farming.

  19. Grace27 August 2020 at 10:20

    The ants have made a nest in the pot of my Chinese arancino and are sprinkling it with aphids, the plant loses handfuls of leaves every day how can I get rid of them? Thanks

    • Matteo Cereda30 August 2020 at 21:49

      It is not easy to drive away the ants, I advise you to repot the plant, in order to move the anthill, including any eggs and queen. There would also be sticky traps but it's not worth it. In the meantime, you have various remedies for aphids and you can block the climb to the crown with an adhesive strip on the trunk.

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