‘Very effective’ DIY methods to get rid of ants in your garden

Aphids: RHS gardening expert gives tips for dealing with pests

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Gardens provide perfect habitats for ants with numerous gaps, nooks and crannies for them to nest within. Modern gardens are typically scarce in the small amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds which prey upon them. This gives them free rein to grow in number and become a noticeable presence in gardens. This is typically the moment you want to know how to get rid of ants from your garden.

When seeking an effective way of getting rid of ants from the garden, it is typically best to use chemicals-free methods. Paul Nicolaides, gardening expert at Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners have shared some of the best to get the job done.

White vinegar 

This cheap kitchen staple is a great method for getting rid of ants in the garden, but also works to get rid of the pests in the home.

Paul explained: “When white vinegar makes contact with ants it kills them instantly. Buy an industrial bottle and pour it into the nest. 

“It is best to try and get as close to the nesting chambers as possible. White vinegar will slowly be reabsorbed by the ground and will not kill plants or contaminate the soil.”

Lemon juice

Lemons contain oil called d-lemonene which is toxic to ants and “can kill them on contact”, according to the expert. 

Lemon juice can be diluted in water to create a repellent spray or soaked into a nest. 

The d-lemonene oil can disrupt the pheromone trails ants use to locate food. Over time this can lead to disorientation and starvation of the colony.  

Boric acid substitute and sugar

The sugar and boric acid method of killing ants will not work for all ant species.

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However, Paul explained: “Most sugar eating species will succumb to the method and is probably the most effective natural method out there.”

Add one part boric acid substitute powder to seven parts sugar, mix thoroughly and then slowly dissolve in a teacup of water. Mix it up until it forms a firm paste. 

It is important to make sure the mixture is well mixed so the sweet taste and aroma of sugar hides the acid.

Place small amounts of the mixture next to nest openings. Keep up this process until the ants stop emerging from the nest. 

The expert added: “This process can take a few weeks. Ants will ingest the mixture and take it back to the queen. Over time this will slowly kill the colony.”

Boiling water 

Boiling water can be used to “dramatically weaken” a colony but rarely eradicates them completely. 

The excavation method will allow gardeners to get as close to the queen as possible. Pour boiling water into the nest as many times as possible until the ground is scorched. With any luck they will reach the queen. 

Chalk powder

According to Paul, chalk can repel ants to an extent but it will not repel ants from your garden. 

Traditionally chalk has been used to alter the pheromone trails they travel but chalk powder is not strong enough to kill an ant nest.

Artificial sweeteners 

Artificial sweeteners containing aspartame during scientific tests in China were found to be toxic to fire ants. 

Fire ants are an invasive species of ant from tropical regions. Many claim that these sweeteners are also perfect natural poisons for many other ant species.

The expert said: “The toxic effect takes time to take effect meaning ants will take quantities back to the nest. 

“This results in the rest of the colony including the Queen to slowly die.” If the ants in your garden take the sweeteners make sure to keep leaving more out. 

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