How to Get Rid of Ants in a Vegetable Garden [10 Methods]

The best methods for killing ants in your garden include placing ant baits with poison or boric acid near ant mounds. Alternatively, you can spread diatomaceous earth in a ring around ant mounds to kill ants. It’s also useful to flatten ant mounds when they appear in your garden. Other options include pouring boiling water or vinegar into an ant mound, as well as spreading citrus oil and other natural repellents in your garden. It’s a good idea to use insecticidal soap to kill any aphids that may attract ants to your garden. The key is to recognize an ant infestation early and stop it before they overtake your garden.

How to get rid of ants in a vegetable garden

10 Tips to Get Rid of Ants in a Vegetable Garden

To get rid of ants permanently, you’ll have to kill the colony and destroy individual mounds. This is because lingering mounds may attract new ants to move in. Below are the most effective methods of clearing out ants in vegetable gardens.

Ant Poison

One of the best options for killing ant colonies in a garden are powder poisons and baits that ants mistake as food. A poison that can kill ants on contact may seem ideal but it’s actually less effective since it won’t kill ants deep within the colony. The key is to get the ants to carry the chosen poison into the ant nest and feed it to their queen. This granulated ant poison is an excellent solution that kills the entire ant nest.

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Boric Acid

Boric acid can make for a great poison in combination with bait stations. However, boric acid needs specific concentrations that can be hard to create on your own. Another solution is to use pre-made poison out of a material like borax. Use these borax-filled ant baits to eliminate ant infestations.

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Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is one of the safest and most effective means of killing ants. It is a fine dust made of the remains of fossilized single-celled organisms. It kills ants that walk through the powder but is harmless to you, your family, and your lawn. Spread a ring of this diatomaceous earth around an ant nest to kill ants as they attempt to forage for food.

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Boiling Water

Boiling water is a simple means of attacking ant nests that can have surprising results. If you pour 1 gallon (3.8 liters) of boiling water down an ant hill, it can make short work of the colony. This approach is not as reliable as ant poison but it is a cost-effective solution that’s worth trying.

Flatten Ant Mounds

You can kill and drive off ants from your garden by simply destroying any mounds that crop up. Use a shovel to dig up the mound to a depth of 6 inches (15 cm). Then, turn the soil and compact it back into place. By digging up and destroying the ants’ network of tunnels, you’ll kill much of the colony and drive off the survivors. 

Non-Lethal Natural Repellents 

Cayenne pepper, black pepper, and coffee grounds help to drive ants away without killing them. All three of these things are irritating to ants and so they go out of their way to avoid them. Just spread these natural deterrents on the ground in your garden to drive off ants. When they encounter these substances, ants are likely to move on to somewhere more inviting.

Citrus Oil

Citrus peel and citrus oil products work as a natural ant repellent and ant killer. Citrus oil is highly toxic to ants so they often try to avoid it. Citrus peels spread on the ground in your garden can drive off ants. Just be aware that it can wind up killing ants instead of merely diverting them like the other repellents. If you’re dealing with garden weeds and ants at the same time, try using this organic weed killer made from citrus oil to kill weeds and ants at the same time.

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You can fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray it on ants to kill them. Ants will also avoid areas and surfaces sprayed with vinegar. To further utilize vinegar, make a 50/50 mix of vinegar and boiling water then pour it into an ant mound. This makes for an effective ant mound killer. However, it’s important to note that vinegar dries and damages plant leaves and stems, so make sure not to spray it on any desirable plants in your garden.

Insect Repelling Plants

There are several varieties of plants that repel ants. Common ones include garlic, lavender, mint, pennyroyal, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, and yarrow. These plants give off smells that are pleasant to people but unbearable to ants. Planting any of these or a mixture of these can redirect ants away from your garden. So, you can ant-proof your garden without chemicals.

Insecticidal Soap

Ants are often drawn to your garden because it contains food sources. One of the favorite foods of garden ants is aphids, which are small insects that feed on your plants’ leaves. Check the underside of leaves for small, white, or light green bugs. If you spot these invaders, wash your plants with this insecticidal soap. Insecticidal soap kills common pests like aphids. Without aphids to feed one, ants are less likely to bother with your garden.

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Will Ants Ruin Your Vegetable Garden?

Black garden ants are not the biggest issue on their own but they can attract other pests. Ants farm aphids in a symbiotic relationship and aphids can do serious damage to your garden. Aphid farming is easily the most serious garden-related issue to watch out for from ants.

  • Common ants farm aphids which increases aphid activity and ruins gardens.
  • Fire ants and carpenter ants are hazardous to human health due to painful defense mechanisms.

Other types of ants can pose more serious issues. The carpenter ant bites and can spray you with formic acid. Similarly, fire ants sting with venom that lingers for days and can cause real pain. Either ant population can injure a person badly so you want to remove a colony of these ants quickly.

Why Do You Have So Many Ants in Your Garden?

More ants in gardens usually comes down to one main factor: sugar and food particles. Ants love sugar. You can bet that any active ant nest is close to something sugary. A likely culprit in gardens is the “honeydew” secreted by aphids as they digest plant sap.

  • The most likely culprit is sugary secretions from common garden pests or plant sap.
  • Sometimes the smell of flowers can attract ants as well.

The smell of flowers can also attract ants since it is naturally sweet. Keep an eye on the flower varieties in your garden. If one is especially attractive to ants, you’ll see them swarming over the petals and center of the open flower.

Tips for Removing Ants from Your Vegetable Garden

Getting a colony of ants out of your garden requires a lot of work. You have to wipe out the colony and then destroy individual mounds so no new ants can move in. Here are the most common and effective methods of removing or controlling ant populations:

  • A poison that ants mistake for food.
  • Ant baits with boric acid.
  • Spread diatomaceous earth in a ring around ant mounds.
  • Pour boiling water into ant mounds.
  • Dig up and flatten ant mounds.
  • Spread natural ant repellents like coffee grounds, cayenne pepper, black pepper, or orange peel.
  • Use citrus oil to kill and repel ants.
  • Spray ants with white vinegar.
  • Include ant-repelling plants such as lavender, mint, and rosemary in your garden.
  • Use insecticidal soap to kill aphids that ants feed on.

By using one or more of these methods, you can kill off ants or drive them away from your garden. Then, you can tend to your garden in peace.

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