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Beginner Gardening Questions: Killing Ants without harming plants?

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JAMIESMITH
Decatur, MS
(Zone 7b)

February 27, 2012
8:10 AM

Post #9021806

I have an ant bed that has popped right under one of my favorite rose bushes. What will kill the ants without harming my bush?

flowAjen

flowAjen
central, NJ
(Zone 6b)

February 27, 2012
8:14 AM

Post #9021820

I use Sevin on ants, but what kind of ants?
idealpeggy
Lexington, KY
(Zone 6b)

February 28, 2012
9:46 AM

Post #9023302

My flower garden is always FULL of ants. I don't know what kind they are - there are little red ones and larger black ones, and some of them bite! I just bought a spray (Scott's, I think) that specified it was good for killing ants and not harmful to flowers or plants. My garden is also full of roses, and none of them have ever been harmed by spraying for ants.

flowAjen

flowAjen
central, NJ
(Zone 6b)

February 28, 2012
10:43 AM

Post #9023346

Ants are actually good for the soil because they aerate it, but when they become bothersome they have to go! Sometimes I think our house was built on an ant farm...never seen so many in all my life!
NatureLover1950
Vicksburg, MS
(Zone 8a)

February 28, 2012
11:37 AM

Post #9023389

Hi Jamie,
Being located in MS, I'd just about bet your ants are fire ants. They love to build mounds around plants and they will kill them. I lost several trees I was trying to start because of the little devils. I finally talked to the owner of a local nursery a few years ago. She recommended:

Surrender Brand
Fire Ant Killer
Acephate 75%

She told me it's what she uses on all of her plants and flowers because it kills the ants but not the plants. It only takes a teaspoon in the middle of each mound. I've also been able to find it at our local co-op and a couple of farm stores so it's readily available.
MrsLidwell
Cresson, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 28, 2012
11:44 AM

Post #9023394

I actually just read something this morning on http://groundtoground.org/2011/09/16/12-ways-to-use-coffee-grounds-around-the-house/ this morning that sprinkling used coffee grounds around plants and the parameter of your house will repel ants! And, best of all, used coffee grounds provide lots of nutrition for a variety of plants, including roses!
JAMIESMITH
Decatur, MS
(Zone 7b)

February 29, 2012
11:56 AM

Post #9024680

Yes, NatureLover, they are fire ants! Don't you hate them? I've seen that brand at The Tractor Supply. I'll definitely try it!

Mrs. Lidwell, coffee grounds are a thought! God knows, I throw plenty of those away!
MrsLidwell
Cresson, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 29, 2012
12:05 PM

Post #9024693

And, personally, I think its a lot better for the plants than a chemical pesticide :) Prolly more nutritious for them too :)

LOL I go through tons of coffee too, and am in the process of learning how to make a compost pile, so I plan to throw at least most of my used coffee grounds in there :)
NatureLover1950
Vicksburg, MS
(Zone 8a)

February 29, 2012
12:33 PM

Post #9024758

Not trying to nitpick here but I do compost and include all of our coffee grounds. I started out just piling it all up in a heap in a corner of my garden but it quickly became absolutely full of fire ants and the coffee grounds didn't seem to bother them in the least. I know lots of folks prefer organic but I'd guess they've never gotten into a mound of these pesky little devils and walked away with dozens of bites that do indeed feel like they are on fire! The electric companies down here hate them too--they do thousands of dollars in damage to electrical equipment every year. The list of things these critters do is too long to put it all here--suffice it to say they are rightfully demonized down here.
Yes Jamie--I HATE fire ants. I guess most of us here in the south rue the day they were brought up on a boat from South America :-{ I forgot that I've seen it at our Tractor Supply too. They just opened one up here in Vicksburg so we're still getting used to having one. Love that store!
MrsLidwell
Cresson, PA
(Zone 6a)

February 29, 2012
1:24 PM

Post #9024828

My guess would be, if you try coffee grounds, put them directly around the plant, not so much in your compost, to have the affect on the ants. It could also be the difference in ant types too. Maybe the coffee grounds work well for the black ant kinds, but not the fire ant kinds? I know the blogger that posted about this said it works for her for black ants. So, my guess would be its cuz of the different type of ants? Or maybe because the coffee has been broken down further by decomposition for your compost for it to work properly against your ants? Dunno, sorry I couldnt be more help!
ssgardener
Silver Spring, MD
(Zone 7a)

February 29, 2012
3:19 PM

Post #9024957

There's a Texas A&M site devoted specifically to fire ants. Their research shows that coffee grounds have absolutely no effect on fire ants. Boiling water will kill some of them, but it will also kill any vegetation near it. Since you don't want to harm the rosebush, the boiling water method will not be feasible. They recommend bait to kill the ants.

http://fireant.tamu.edu/

flowAjen

flowAjen
central, NJ
(Zone 6b)

February 29, 2012
5:23 PM

Post #9025145

Fire ant control is a whole other story
NatureLover1950
Vicksburg, MS
(Zone 8a)

March 1, 2012
5:35 AM

Post #9025538

Oh gosh MrsLidwell, never apologize for at least trying to help! That's what this forum is all about--trying to help each other. As flowAjen said so well--fire ant control is a whole other story. Soooo true! They are some of the toughest and meanest little critters I've ever had to deal with.

themoonhowl

themoonhowl
Prairieville, LA
(Zone 9a)

March 1, 2012
9:37 AM

Post #9025847

Jamie, after killing the ant nest, use the garden hose to soak the area around your rose bush...the ants create air pockets around roots and cause problems for your plant even if the ants are gone.

As we in the South all know, fire ants can be evil critters...and sneaky. Sometimes they do not have visible mounds, especially in flower beds with mulch. Too many times I have snagged a weed from a flower bed only to wind up with hands or feet covered in the nasty little biters...quite by accident we discovered that Windex helps minimize their bite. The fire ants produce Formic acid...and the ammonia in Windex helps to neutralize that acid...thus easing some of the pain and itching and also seems to prevent some of the pustules from forming. we took it a bit further and bought a bottle of sudsy ammonia...mixed 20% ammonia with 80% water in a spray bottle and use it to wash the affected area...then rinse well in cool water.
WeeNel
Ayrshire Scotland
United Kingdom

March 12, 2012
3:19 PM

Post #9039962

I have to agree there are so many gardeners now-a-days who go strictly down the route of no chemicals but, as I like to call myself chemical free too, I have had to resort to the use of them when everything else has been tried and failed, I have no qualms about people preferring to use chemicals but what I do object is the way some folks reach for them as first resort instead of last resort and they throw them everywhere like a man with no arms, but ant can eventually damage your foundations by there constant extension of their living quarters, I'm not saying in one summer your foundations will be gone, I'm saying over a long infestation, this does happen, go try the chemical cosh recommended for the fire ants, IF after several goes with it, you know to stop as it will not be working but do remember, one spray or sprinkle wont do it, you need to keep buying the stuff and constant use over a period. Remember IF your neighbours have these ants too then the possibility is they will move to your ant free plot too.
Good luck. WeeNel.
NatureLover1950
Vicksburg, MS
(Zone 8a)

March 14, 2012
12:52 PM

Post #9042671

Fire ants are one exception I have to make. I haven't found anything organic that even begins to faze them and I've lost more plants than I care to remember trying. I don't use chemicals on my flowers in order to spare my bees, butterflies, hummers, etc. Also don't care to use them on my vegetables to spare the good insects and so that hubby and I don't have to eat them!

kittriana

kittriana
Magnolia, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 22, 2012
6:27 PM

Post #9053349

In Florida there is one orange that most humans cannot even eat, causes blisters in the mouth and all the way down, but fire ants hate the stuff, I suspect if u could find that one type of orange, you could treat organically. But you still need a plan and the understanding this is a never ending war with an ant that has been found 80' underground.
darci_
Jacksonville, AR
(Zone 7b)

March 27, 2012
4:40 PM

Post #9059639

I have a natural remedy that works for ants (not fire ants). A few summers ago, we had a drought, and ants started coming into my kitchen, hundreds of them. I'm married to a clean freak, and I'm not much better, so we knew they weren't coming in for a messy kitchen. Well, we had the exterminator out several times over the course of 3 weeks, each time spraying stronger chemicals. Nothing even slowed them down. I was desperate, and I hate chemicals. I started researching for my own remedy and found it.

I put a few drops of Oil of Cloves essential oil in a spray bottle of water and sprayed it in their trails where they were coming in around a window. Within minutes, they stopped! It took a couple of days to convince the ones who hadn't gotten the word in the nest, but soon there wasn't an ant to be found. Now I use clove oil in my cleaning water for the kitchen cabinets. Smells really good, and it treats for any ants that might want to scout us out. We also use it on the hummingbird feeder post because ants like to climb up and get into the feeders. I drench a strip of cloth in the water & cloves mixture, and it stops them cold.
JAMIESMITH
Decatur, MS
(Zone 7b)

March 29, 2012
7:32 AM

Post #9061664

I appreciate all the advice everyone! I did have some luck, not with killing the ants, but at least with relocating them! I dug up my rose bush and then moved all the dirt around where the bush had been to a different part of the yard. I put potting soil where the ant bed had been and put my rose bush back. The ants have rebuilt there bed in the other are of my yard. The rose bush has new leaves, so hopefully it will be okay :)

kittriana

kittriana
Magnolia, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 29, 2012
8:53 AM

Post #9061760

I have also been told of dried molasses you can find in feed stores-or tractor supply- works as fertilizer and against fire ants, I havent tried it yet, but passing the info along
Jenn1980
Gillette, WY

April 6, 2012
11:53 AM

Post #9072017

I have to post because I am about to try a home remedy for killing ants...I want to know what y'all think...

Half borax and half powdered sugar. Supposed to be safe for the environment but not kids.

Anyone tried or heard of this?

themoonhowl

themoonhowl
Prairieville, LA
(Zone 9a)

April 6, 2012
12:12 PM

Post #9072035

Boric acid(Borax) has long been used in the control of "sugar" ants, those attracted to sweets, and other pests (roaches). Best used in small amounts, a coke bottle cap works well, just make sure it is tucked away from small kids and pets.. Make sure you label the mix and store any left over in a labelled air tight container. Some folks use a mix of powdered sugar, Borax and corn meal or grits. This is best used outside...you can tuck a bottle cap on an outside window sill for ants.

flowAjen

flowAjen
central, NJ
(Zone 6b)

April 6, 2012
1:59 PM

Post #9072186

I put Borax around all my baseboards in the dining room by our sliding door, seems ants love to come in there, works great! Suggested the same for a friend in GA and she has had 0 ants in her house so far this year
wannadanc
Olympia, WA

April 6, 2012
7:06 PM

Post #9072566

Worst ant control story I have ever heard:

A friend has a husband who decided it was more cost effective for HIM to use ant exterminating equipment than to hire it done. He sprayed gallons of (unnamed) product into the walls of his house - from the outside.

Guess who is allergic to the product?
Guess who has not been able to spend more than 5 minutes in her home for the last month?
Pulmonary specialists are onboard, but the long range issue is where is she going to live?

Husband? As he gets a clearer and clearer picture of the hell that has been created, he wants to blame HER!!!!!

kittriana

kittriana
Magnolia, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 6, 2012
8:16 PM

Post #9072646

Usually it's the very young that react to the poisons that are soaked into the city lots to 'protect' them from bug infestations- I wonder sometimes how many of our allergies are more intense as we age because of our exposure when younger...that story reminds me of many others I have heard in the last 20 years
NatureLover1950
Vicksburg, MS
(Zone 8a)

April 7, 2012
3:55 AM

Post #9072758

All sorts of chemicals, even in perfumes, laundry detergents, etc., can cause a lot of us untold misery. I speak from experience. Hubby and I have had to ask to be relocated in restaurants and I've had to walk away from people in stores because my reaction to perfumes can be so bad. I can't even fill my own gas tank! I don't like chemicals and the only one we use is to kill fire ants--and that only because we haven't found anything else that works :-{

kittriana

kittriana
Magnolia, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 7, 2012
8:37 AM

Post #9073020

At least it's bait chems for fire ants- unless you soak in gas and burn and turn dirt til all the gas is burned out of soil, waste of gas doin that tho, I can't deal with perfumes of any kind either-and sneeze my head off at sunrise every day, and get laryngitis from smoke of all kinds and persuasions- am rather fond of the birth control baits, but it is never ending
wannadanc
Olympia, WA

April 7, 2012
11:53 AM

Post #9073191

I am blessed to have not personally suffered from allergies - with three exceptions. Fortunately, mine are not respiratory antigens. I think much of society IS getting the message about perfumes and the problems they cause. I am certain, though, that is of little comfort when even one person in your sniffing range is unaware.

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