Ants in your pants!

A friend of mine asked how to get rid of ants in the garden organically. There are quite a few ways to do this and it really depends on what you are seeing and what you want to accomplish. The first rule, though, is don’t stomp on them. They send out a warning to the others and the other ants rush to the site. 

Have you ever wondered why they can climb on you calmly then you squish one and the others start biting? I don’t know the science of it, but they are able to communicate with one another. 

A few gardeners will argue that ants are good for your garden because they till the soil. My raised beds don’t need tilling. 🙂 You will have to decide for yourself whether the ants are a beneficial pest or a harmful one in your garden. If you want to get rid of them, the following are a few techniques.  

  • Sometimes I will find a trail of ants climbing my raised garden walls and into my garden. First of all, they love the soft soil, but that isn’t why they are there. The first thing I look for are aphids and white flies. Check on the underside of the leaves. Both create a sticky substance and the ants love it. In fact, they will go for anything sticky on plants. So your first action is to spray off your plants gently. Make sure you get the undersides of the leaves. You should do this every couple of days to prevent a new infestation. Just don’t soak the plants because you are changing the controlled amount of water you give your plants each day.
  • You can kill them with a tried-and-true garden friend: a little Dawn dish soap mixed with a spray bottle filled with water. Spray this directly on them and it will suffocate them. This works for most pests in the garden. Make sure it is Dawn soap because it will not harm plants or humans.
  • A stronger response to all pests in your garden is Neem Oil. It is organic but more and more organic gardeners are becoming cautious about its use. It kills good and bad pests.
  • So those darn guys still keep climbing out of that anthill toward your plants? This is where I declare war. I will mix one part white vinegar to three parts water and pour it down the opening of the ant hill. There is one warning here. If the ant hill rests beside or on top of plant or tree roots, you can’t do this. Vinegar kills plants. It is the organic version of Roundup for killing weeds. It will burn a plant at its roots. If you won’t hurt a plant where the anthill is, go for it. They will move out.

Jknapp

I am a certified agriscape designer and Maricopa County Master Gardener. I have been gardening since I was six years old and worked in my grandfather's garden. I believe that the only way to be a responsible gardener is to garden organically. It improves our soil, is safer for us to eat, sustainable and it protects our pollinators and soil from chemical poisoning.