Organic Strategies for Ant Control
© Frances Michaels
Ants are insects in the Order Hymenoptera, and it should be recognised that they can be beneficial as well as
pests. They will kill and eat any insect they find, including fleas, fly larvae and termites. In some areas
they are an important part of the natural processes of soil aeration and organic matter breakdown. Management
programs should aim to keep them out of the house without eliminating them from all other environments.
Ants are social insects and live in colonies. Usually there are 3 distinct castes: workers, queens and males.
Some species also have a soldier caste. Eggs are laid by the queen, then develop into larvae, pupate and
Ants invade houses searching for food and are more of a nuisance than a danger, and they certainly do not
warrant the use of highly toxic insecticides. Use soapy water sprays to kill invading ants until you can
undertake more permanent solutions.
Proper Storage of Food
Food should be kept in containers that close tightly. Pet food should not be left out overnight or place it in
a bowl of soapy water to prevent ant access.
Storage of Organic Waste
Compost buckets need to have tight fitting lids. Bottles, cans and wrappings that have food particles clinging
to them should be washed out before storage for recycling.
A vacuum cleaner is useful to remove crumbs from corners and cracks in the floor, as well as inside cupboards.
Find out where the ants are entering the house and then use a silicon caulk to block their passage. If possible,
place boric acid or
in the cracks
Try to tolerate ants outdoors as they are part of the environment and control many pests such as termites,
cockroaches, fleas and flies. Increasing the humus levels and using mulch will discourage ants in the garden.
Biting ants close to the house, children's play area or gardens may need to be controlled using the Spraying
Treatment outlined below.
Flooding with water is useful to rid ants from plant pots.
Make up a spray containing 500 ml of water, 60 ml of kerosene, 60 ml of liquid detergent and
40 ml of vegetable oil, shaken together. Spray a circle about 0.5 m radius from the nest entrance.
Pour a cup of water slowly into the nest entrance, wait a few minutes and then spray all the ants on the
surface with the homemade spray or a pyrethrum
spray. Repeat this procedure every 2 - 3 days until the ant population declines. Additionally lay 3 - 6 baits
as described below, around the nest.
Use boric acid and sugar solution bait as a least-toxic control. To make the bait mix 3 cups of water, 1 cup
sugar and 4 level teaspoons of boric acid.
Half fill a small screw-topped jar with cotton wool, saturate with bait, screw the lids on tightly, seal with
adhesive tape, pierce several small holes in the lid to allow the ants access but prevent removal by larger
animals. Keep away from children and pets. This takes a few weeks to wipe out a colony but is more effective
than using highly toxic pesticides that only kill the foraging ants, not the colony. Some ants will prefer a
mint jelly or peanut butter bait.
Use horticultural glue
, such as
Tree Guard Glue
around tree trunks
to aid in the biological
control of scales, aphids and mealybugs, as ants patrol trees defending these pests from attack by their natural
enemies, in order to maintain their supply of honeydew.
It is highly recommended to band the tree prior to applying the glue especially for young, thin-barked trees and
smaller fruit trees. By banding you protect the tree and lengthen the life of the glue application. In addition,
re-application or removal is far easier. You can use
, cling wrap, duct
tape, or masking tape to band the tree.
Amgrow Tomato and Vegetable Dust