Nick Federoff's Blog
If you were to gather all the ants in world and weight them, they would weight more than the world weights – that, my friends are a lot of ants.
Have you ever noticed that people get pushed out of shape when you kill a fly, moth – even cockroaches? But, when it comes to ants they are fair game. As with all natural control methods, not all of them necessarily work for the long run. Many are designed to simply confuse ants so they go elsewhere, some will kill them off for good while others only scatter them until they come back to their normal working spots.
Ants will send off scouts to find food to forage. Once they do find food the hightail it back to the queen at their nest. On their way back to their nest they leave a sent, kind like a pheromone, so the worker ants can sniff their way to their food.
If you have ants in a citrus tree, normally that’s because of other insects problems. For instance, a citrus is susceptible to aphids. Aphids are sucking insects. The pigs they are, they don’t eat all they consume and leave behind a sticky sweet substance. Now the ants? No. That sticky sweet substance begins to mold, now you have something called Black Sooty Mold. Now the ants? Yes! Black Sooty Mold is like ant caviar. The moral of this story? Keep aphids off your citrus and the ants will never come around.
Let’s take a look at what we can do to naturally kill off ants….
- Boiling Water. Like the old days of protecting your castle from the bad guys by dumping boiling oil, leave the oil out and dump boiling water from a tea kettle right into an ant hill. You’ll need to do this several times to get the control.
- Cleanser and Talcum Powder. Sprinkle cleanser around hardscapes or areas where plants don’t grow (around tents, tires, house, etc.). Talcum powder can be sprinkled around trees and near edible food crops. The best thing to do is to make a line with it, not a spray over the whole area.
- Petroleum Jelly. I’ve used petroleum jelly on tree trunks. About a foot off the ground put a thick 2 inch band of it around the tree. They will get stuck in the goopy mess. The only problem is that some trees will react negatively to the PJ and the bark may start to flake off. That’s where the next tip comes in.
- Cup Band. Invert a paper cup, cut a slice on the side to what will be the top of the cup then cut into the top/bottom to the center. Cut a hole in the center the thickness of the branch it will be placed around. Put the inverted cup, sitting at ground level and let the fun begin. You can either smother petroleum jelly on the cup or put tape on the cup so the sticky side faces outwards. These methods will stop ants in their tracks.
- Simple Green. This is a cheap-and-shameless plug for a company that really needs to advertise on my radio show because I have used Simple Green for ant control for years. I don’t know what they put in that stuff, but, sprayed here there and everywhere I find it does ward off ants and other insects (I’ve even used it to control Giant White Fly). So, if you know the folks over at Simple Green, please, introduce me!
- Instant Grits. Instant grits can be found at any supermarket. They need to be spread an active line of ants or around an ant hill. When the notice the easy to carry treat they will harvest it, take it home then much away. The little moister that is in their bodies will explode in their bodies clogging them up.
- Peppermint or Spearmint. These strong herbs can be used a couple of different ways. If you take the leaves and crush them by hand whilst dropping them on an ant line they seem to vanish. I just did this at my folk’s house just the other day. We were about to go to church and my mommy had ants in here kitchen. I went out to her herb garden, snatched a few leaves, crushed and laid the leave out in their way and when we got back – they were gone! Another thing you can do is make a homemade concoction. Use one cup of water to ¼ cup of peppermint or spearmint. Whop it all up in a blender then strain into a handheld pump sprayer. Not only will it ward off ants, it’ll make your house smell nice, too.
- Vinegar. Be careful with equal parts vinegar to water as sprayed plants will get burned (straight vinegar is used for weed control).
- Insecticidal Soaps. The folks at Whitney Farms has a line of insecticidal soaps that are just dandy for ant control (yes, I just used the word ‘dandy’). They come premixed with easy-to-use trigger sprayers. Whitney Farms products can be found by clicking here or at independent nurseries and hardware stores (not the big box stores).
If you have any fun and creative ideas on how to get rid of ants, feel free to let me know and I’ll share them on my radio show and here on this blog.
Plants are provide my the nursery I used to work at when I was a teenager, Blue Hills Nursery. Annual Color is provided by 4M Nurseries. Filming of the CBS|KCAL 9 television segment was done at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles in Beverly Hills.
If you have any gardening questions, feel free to contact me 24/7 by calling toll free, 1-800-405-NICK(6425).