If you have just discovered ants in your vegetable garden, you may be wondering if this is a good thing or it is a bad one. Or you may be wondering if you should act now to get rid of all of them or just let them be.
In this article, you will learn about ants in vegetable gardens including their benefits, their drawbacks, and so on. The information is intended to make it easier for you to quickly decide if the ants in your vegetable garden need to go right now or can continue staying.
Benefits of having ants in your vegetable garden
The two most popular ants in gardens in the western world are the red ants and black ants. The red ants have a painful bite, while the black ones don’t normally bite.
If you spot any type of ant in your garden, below are the benefits you can expect.
- Better soil aeration. Ants like digging holes and tunnels underneath the ground. These holes and tunnels improve soil aeration and, therefore, enhance the movement of water, oxygen, and nutrients.
- Improved pollination. Just like bees and other garden insects, ants are pollinators. They carry pollen from flower to flower and help pollinate plants.
- Pest control. Ants help with pest control. They do this by eating the young of many pests hence preventing them from growing out of control. Ants also eat big pests such as caterpillars by attacking them in numbers.
- Help in making organic matter. Ants play a big role in accelerating the decomposition of decaying branches, wood, shrubs, twigs, pests, and leaves by feeding on them and breaking them down.
From the information above, it is easy to conclude that ants are good. After all, they come with so many benefits. While this may be true, garden ants also come with several drawbacks.
Drawbacks of having ants in your vegetable garden
While garden ants come with several benefits, they also come with several drawbacks. Below are the most common ones.
- Food destruction. Generally, ants are great for vegetable gardens. However, they can also eat and destroy your fruits and vegetables.
- Rapid multiplication. Ants multiple rapidly. Therefore, while they may not be a menace when you notice one or two of them here and there, they probably will be within a couple of days.
- They can bite. Ants can bite. They often bite when they feel they are under attack. So if you decide to leave them in your garden, make sure you are always on the lookout for them when in it to avoid getting bit.
What these drawbacks show is that having ants in your garden can be bad. Most people do not like having ants in their vegetable gardens because ants do eat fruits and vegetables when they become many. Because of this, most people usually take measures to control ants before they become a problem. In the section below, you will learn how to control ants naturally without using any pesticides / harmful chemicals. After all, using pesticides on your vegetables will most likely make them unsafe for consumption.
How to control ants naturally
As mentioned above, most people avoid using pesticides on their vegetable gardens to avoid making their food unsafe for consumption. This is because spraying ants with pesticides almost always results in the pesticides being absorbed by the plants, and consumption of such food will result in the chemicals being accumulated in your body. And as it has been recently established, many pesticide chemicals are known or suspected carcinogens.
So to avoid using pesticides or insecticides, people normally use natural means to control ants in their gardens. Below are the most popular natural means of controlling ants in vegetable gardens.
- Citrus peels. Citrus peels have d-Limonene. This chemical is not harmful to humans but it is dangerous to ants. It kills them by suffocating them. Apart from killing ants, the citrusy scent of citrus peels also acts as an ant repellent because ants hate it. So get citrus peels and spread through around the base of your vegetable plants and near ant hideouts.
- Aspartame. This chemical sweetener is used as a substitute for sugar in food and beverages. This should tell you that it is not harmful to humans. While it causes humans no harm, it is a poison for some ants and it can eliminate them within a day. So if you have this sweetener in your home, do not hesitate to try it on your ants.
- Cinnamon. Cinnamon has a scent that is too strong for ants. They get repelled by it. They also cannot move and communicate normally in the presence of the scent. Therefore, it is something you can use in your vegetable garden to repel ants. Drop cinnamons on your garden floor to control ants.
- Diatomaceous earth. This is a naturally occurring white powder. It is sold online on sites like Amazon and eBay. This powder is not harmful to humans, birds, or pets. However, it destroys ants, bugs, fleas, ticks, and slugs. It does this by sticking to them when they go over it and then getting into their systems causing havoc.
- Borax. This compound is one of the best for killing ants. This is because it does not affect humans or people. However, when ants consume it, it gets into their digestive system and destroys them from the inside. The fact that it does not kill ants instantly allows them to carry it and share it generously in their colonies leading to their elimination within hours or days.
- Vinegar. Many people use vinegar to cook. Therefore, it is a compound that many have in their kitchens. The compound is not harmful to humans, pets, or animals but it is an ant repellent. You can use it as a spray to repel ants from your vegetable garden.
- Cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper or any other pepper including chili powder can be used to repel ants. Ants find the scent of pepper/chili to be very irritating. Therefore, they avoid whichever location they find the scent. So you can place pepper around the base of your vegetable plants or pour chili powder onto anthills and other hideouts to get rid of them.
- Fresh garlic. Garlic has a strong scent that even some humans do not like. It can not only help you cook great meals but also help you to get rid of ants naturally. This is because ants do not like its strong scent and aroma. So they avoid it whenever they smell it. To use fresh garlic to eliminate ants in your garden, you should cut several cloves and leave them around the base of your vegetable plants.
- Coffee grounds. If you are an avid coffee drinker, this is a solution you will love. This is because it involves using your used coffee grounds. Coffee grounds have a strong scent that ants do not like. Therefore, you can use them to repel ants from your vegetable garden. Simply sprinkle the grounds around your vegetable garden and they will do the trick. The best thing about using coffee grounds for ant control is that they also have minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium that can improve the soil in your garden with time.
- Lemon eucalyptus oil. This natural oil has citronella in it. This compound is a known insect repellent. To use it to repel ants and other insects in your garden, you should soak cotton balls in it and place them where ants are many in your garden. You should also place them around the base of your vegetable plants. If you do this, they will eliminate ants and protect your plants. You should place new soaked cotton balls weekly.