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El_Cadejo's avatar

I've got ants in my pants! garden.... What, if anything, should I do?

Asked by El_Cadejo (33633 points ) 1 month ago

Today I was taking a bit of soil out of my raised bed to fill up a pot and came across a massive ants nest. I’ve seen ants in my garden before and never really bothered with them because it was only a few here and there and I figured they would kill some of the bad bugs in my garden. This however is an insane amount. Like “holy crap the ground is moving!” level of ants. I haven’t noticed any negative effects yet but I don’t want to risk anything down the road as their next is rather close to a lot of my plants roots.

Here are some pictures to give everyone an idea of what I’m dealing with.

If I do have to remove the ants what is the best way to go about this without using pesticides?

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29 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Get an aardvark.

Seriously though, they won’t harm anything, You just turned up their nest. But ants out in the wild are pretty hard to get rid of.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I tend to agree. Fighting ants is hard work, and they always come back… yet never actually do any damage to things humans care about. Unless they’re in your home, I’d let them be. If you’d decided to fill your pot from a foot to the right or left, you’d probably still be unaware of their presence.

El_Cadejo's avatar

That’s good to hear. I really didn’t want to wage war on the ants but I didn’t want to lose my plants either.

I love when things work out like this. I get to be lazy and everything will be ok :)

DWW25921's avatar

Unless your house is made entirely of block and steel I would remove them with haste. I don’t like using poison because of the cats. Here’s an article you may find helpful…

http://smallnotebook.org/2010/04/21/5-simple-natural-ant-control-remedies/

ragingloli's avatar

Find the entrance to their nest and pour molten aluminium inside.
Not only will you get rid of the ants, but you also get a great sculpture when you dig the aluminium out afterwards.

DWW25921's avatar

@ragingloli Evil genius…

El_Cadejo's avatar

@DWW25921 Have you personally tried any of those remedies? I have both mint and peppers growing in my garden so I suppose I can give that a shot as well as the cinnamon or garlic.

@ragingloli Unfortunately these ants don’t make such nice colonies, so I’d come out with a weird blob lol

ragingloli's avatar

a blob is fine, too

Coloma's avatar

Ants won’t hurt your plants, they might be attracted to water sources in the garden area, Marigolds help deter a lot of insects too. Why not feed them, make a pet ant colony. A little sugar in the garden maybe. lol

DWW25921's avatar

I haven’t tried them because I have lots of spiders. So, I’m not worried about ants! (nervous smile…)

Seek's avatar

Unless they are the evil biting sort, I’d leave them be. They probably keep away caterpillars and other plant-eating bugs.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Alright, it’s decided then, the ants stay lol.

While we’re on my garden, anyone have any sort of idea what may be doing this ? I’ve inspected all around the plant for any trace of critters but I’m not seeing much aside from the ants(and they’re at the other end of the garden). The odd thing is that I have more bak choy on either side of this plant and they both look fine .

majorrich's avatar

Sprinkle Borax detergent liberally around the garden. The ants carry the boric acid to the colony and eat it. It prevents their little bodies from absorbing energy from the food they eat and they all die. It is harmless to humans and small animals. It’s also good for cleaning radiators.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

They also make a liquid boric acid you can use to kill the ants. Ants sometime “farm” aphids, so if you can get rid of them do it.

gailcalled's avatar

@El_Cadejo: Slugs eat holes like those you showed us of your plant.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@gailcalled Should I put out some beer traps?

sweet_star's avatar

I have an ant war every year in my house (they actually do like to come inside though) and the only solution that always works are ant baits.

I use: AMDRO 24 oz. Ant Block Home Perimeter Ant Bait, that I buy from The Home Depot. And besides being affordable (less than $12) I am ant free within a few hours!

I HATE insects, so I suggest that you get them out and far from your home. However, if you really want to keep them, it is totally up to you.

cazzie's avatar

I had huge nest last year and my neighbours were going apeshit, sure they would get in their house. They made me take out my compost bin and I used several jugs of boiling water. The ants weren’t in my compost bin, she was just moaning about it.

Bagardbilla's avatar

If they’re not hurting the plants, let them be. They belong there just as much as you do. :)

dappled_leaves's avatar

The bok choy problem could be snails, slugs, or just about any type of caterpillar. You’ll probably have to determine what’s eating them before researching a solution.

gailcalled's avatar

Coexisting with most ants (we’ll skip the issues with carpenter and fire ants for now) is easy. They do a lot more good than harm. They aerate the soil, help in pollination and act as decomposers.

If you leave crumbs and food traces out in your kiktchen or patio during the warm weather, the ants will come and can be considered pests then.

Now, slugs are another matter. They are easy to spot…little brown slimy guys, inching their way along the leaves of green vegetables. Google for homeopathic remedies. Beer is one.

majorrich's avatar

Earwigs are the ones that creep me out the most.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Alrighty, so, I found the culprits responsible for eating the bak choy . I found these caterpillars living in the plant. I obviously removed all that I could but I’m sure there are still eggs or something that I don’t see.

Most of what I’ve read online says to remove them by hand and spray a soap mixture on the plants. I really don’t want to do that since I plan on obviously eating the bak choy. I was thinking maybe a pepper solution would work though.

Now that we’ve determined that the ants are actually a garden ally, do you guys think I should maybe try and transplant part of the colony to that area of the garden?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Some Bt should take care of them and it’s nontoxic to humans.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Thanks, I’ll give it a shot.

gailcalled's avatar

@El_Cadejo: Stop micromanaging the ants. They will take care of any necessary redistribution, I bet. (And if any of them are eavesdropping, you may find them micromanaging you. There are enough of them, certainly.)

El_Cadejo's avatar

@gailcalled Fair enough. Still quite new to gardening and such. It’s funny, I have no problem maintaining a coral reef tank but gardening still confuses the hell out of me :P

gailcalled's avatar

It will continue to be a love-hate relationship for the rest of your life. Every spring is a mystery. What will come back? What has died during the winter? What did you think was dead that suddenly and mysteriously showed up after two years?

How did those (choose one) daffodils, columbines, squill, leucojum, peonies, irises, bee balm show up there where I didn’t plant them?

How can the deer suddenly be eating those when they never did before? What’s this four-inch bright green worm with horns doing on my tomato plants? He’s doing what?

Really” Poison ivy can look like that too?

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