Studying ants is a lesson in survival. If ants encounter a substance that kills them or forms a barrier, they set to work and pile up enough of each other, dead or alive, to make a bridge to cross!There are over 14,000 ant species worldwide. Some are useful as biological control in farming; many have painful bites and some eat crops.
Controlling ants in the garden is the focus here, so whether you have brown coastal ants, bull ants or tiny black ants, most of them continually scout around searching for food and if you see one, it's probably left a scent trail and in a flash the rest of the team will be on their way.
In your vegetable garden ants 'farm' aphids, even moving aphids to put them on better plants. The ants collect the sweet honeydew that aphids secrete after sucking plant sap.
Mealy bugs and scale are other soft-bodied insects that secrete honeydew which ants collect.
The ants make tunnels and nests in your soil and undermine roots and really roughshod it over everything in your garden if they get out of hand.
You have to be crafty to totally get rid of ants. Here's some instant ant ammunition...
Borax can be used as a natural insecticide, although must be kept away from children, pets and protect yourself too. Watch your eyes, nose, use gloves and wash hands afterwards.
Borax mixed with peanut butter or something sweet, such as honey, means the ants eat it and take it back to their nest to share with other ants, hopefully poisoning all in the nest.
Diatomaceous earth sprinkled on ants' trails kills ants by dehydration when they're back in their nest.
Garlic fire spray will kill ants on contact... but unfortunately there's plenty more ants on their way!
There are lots of organic garden pest control deterrent for ants, but keep applying and changing them because they are determined little blighters indeed. When ants are under attack, some ants will gather a few eggs and move to another location, so often all you achieve is for them to move their nest somewhere else, in which case unless they become a pest again, leave them in peace.
Some more garden ant control strategies...
Jam, honey or sugar water (and borax if you wish) can be dabbed on the base of aphid infested plants. That will hold the ants back whilst you set some ladybugs on the aphids. You can spray the aphids and ants, but the ants will have a store of eggs underground and will soon move back to start farming again.
Cucumber peels on ant routes will send them away for a while.
Black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon or chilli powder—one or more of these sprinkled in or near their entrance will make them disappear... if you can find their nests.
Salt likewise also sends them into a frenzy.Boiling water can then be poured on as many ants as you can reach (as long as it's safe and away from plants). Boiling water can of course be poured down an ant nest to kill the queen—if you are lucky enough to find an easy to reach nest, but usually they are very deep and constructed to stop rain and flooded water going in.
Want to read about other garden pests? Check out Organic Garden Pest Control