Controlling Ants in the Vegetable Garden

Sometimes ants can be beneficial in your garden, but if they are destroying the plants or veggies, you will want to find a safe way to control them. This is a guide about controlling ants in the vegetable garden.

May 26, 2011 Flag
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I have a problem with ant hills in my lawn. The ants can be found on my deck and on my front porch and now have even gotten into the house. I have heard that borax can be used to control them. What do I have to do?

By Ann B. from Basking Ridge, NJ

May 26, 20110 found this helpful

Since I wrote my last post I came across this in my local paper in a handyman column. A fella wrote in to the handyman column to say "he had being listening to a garden show on the radio and the commentator recommended using Borax soap and granulated sugar mixed in equal amounts to get rid of ants".The ants take the mixure back to the nest and consum both products. The Borax is deadly to them. The Borax and sugar mixture is non toxic and is biodegradable.

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May 28, 20110 found this helpful

There is a recipe for the boric acid and sugar on this website somewhere. You have to mix it with water and put it out carefully. Depending on the ants you are having issues with, that recipe is for the little black ants that invade your kitchen. If you have fire ants, just lightly sprinkle corn meal around the outside of the ant hill. They will eat it and burst when it rehydrates. Fire ants are protein eaters. I used this after spending tons of money on store bought remedies that didn't work. I've been fire ant free for two years. If they come back, I'll just sprinkle some more corn meal on 'em.

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May 28, 20110 found this helpful

I hope I don't sound cranky about this. I think 20 Mule Team Borax is a great, natural cleaner but it is toxic. Ask the ants and roaches. Dial's website and box say to not use it around children or pets. Box says Caution. Eye irritant. May be harmful if swallowed.

It's also not recommended for baby's skin. It is not described as biodegradable. It's a mineral compound mined from the earth. It's described as natural, harmless to washing machines, plumbing and septic systems, contains no phosphates or chlorine. All great stuff, but not biodegradable. I think it goes back into our water supply as 20 Mule Team Borax.

Oh dear, I do sound cranky, don't I.

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May 28, 20110 found this helpful

When I see anthills outside I boil a 2 quart pot of water and pour it on them. Inside the house ant traps may work.

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May 28, 20110 found this helpful

I have a book about using natural substances for just about anything. When I had ants in my pantry, it said to take lemon juice on a rag and wipe down the shelves. The ants are gone and haven't come back. It also said you can put lemon juice in a spray bottle and spray areas where you don't want them to come. Also, take those lemon peels and slice them up and sprinkly around the ant beds. I know you can take a orange peel and squeeze the oil out of it and rub it on your dogs and the fleas will go away. The cat hates it. He licks his fur and the orange oil is bitter so I don't' use it on him. Good luck.

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May 28, 20110 found this helpful

You can also use cornstarch. That is one of the ingredients in ant traps. They ingest it, it bloats up their systems and they die. Sprinkle it around the areas that you see them. A less toxic thing to try, at least at first.

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August 7, 2010 Flag
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How can I get rid of ants and their mounds?

By blemom from Orlando, FL

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August 7, 20100 found this helpful

This spring we were really disturbed to see a fire ant mound next to our grandbaby's headstone. I did not want to use any type of chemical on our baby, so we would pour an entire bottle of carbonated water on the mound each time we visited, so far so good!

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Anonymous Flag
August 9, 20100 found this helpful

I have tried this and it works. Sprinkle salt on the cut side of cucumber peelings, place the peelings on top of the ant mound.

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August 10, 20100 found this helpful

Strange as it may sound, I have used plain old regular grits (the kind in a bag, like flour) sprinkled on the mounds. The ants eat them and swell and die. Don't let people poo-poo this, as I have seen it work anytime its been used.

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June 3, 2011 Flag
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I started noticing the fine residue created by ants in my entire yard 3 years ago; it is also in planted areas. I used to have a gorgeous lawn, but the ants are killing the grass and plants. Last year I had the lawn aerated and seeded thinking it would come back this year, but again I notice ants and their telltale fine, granular mix everywhere. I have been reading the suggestions and may try the cornmeal or borax solution. Has anyone used a professional lawn service? If so, what was their advice.


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June 4, 20110 found this helpful

I have been told to pour 2 cups of club soda on the mound. Not sure why, but it works.

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June 17, 20110 found this helpful

About 10% dry 20 mule team Borax in corn syrup. Warm just a little to dissolve. Place solution in cracks and areas pets and wildlife cannot eat it, The worker ants carry it back to nest and whole nest dies. Queen ants live for up to 20 years and produce many new queens.

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June 4, 2012 Flag
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Does anyone know a way to get rid of them in my vegetable garden? They are killing my tomato and cucumber plants. I would prefer using things I have around the house than spending money I don't have :)

By MrsJim from Ontario

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July 23, 20140 found this helpful

I was told to sprinkle grits wherever you see ants - that they eat it and when they drink it explodes in their stomachs. Tried it on an ant nest in the crack of my cement and no more ants.

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August 7, 2010 Flag
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How can I get rid of ants in the yard?

By Rhonda from TX


Controlling Ants

Diatomaceous Earth. You can find it at garden supply stores or online (usually cheaper). It's a naturally occurring substance that pretty much murders bugs by cutting them open so the dehydrate to death. It's used in grain silos to keep the bugs out of feed supplies. I use it in my garden. It is more effective than pesticides, if you ask me. But, if you live in a very wet environment, this may not be a good option for you because you'll need to reapply too much.

Pets are even given small doses (food grade) of it for it's de-worming ability!
Please do not buy the stuff used for pool filters it is NOT the same, and that stuff is toxic to your pets.

By no means do I suggest this website, nor do I benefit from it, but they have the most information on what it does:

Go there and read about it, then check around local to you to find it. If you live near farm country, you can probably buy a nice bulk package of it for a lot less than the little boxes and bags. (01/09/2010)

By cowfd

Controlling Ants

Here is how I do it. You'll need a box of 20 Mule Team Borax (in the laundry section of your favorite supermarket). You'll also need some honey, syrup or jelly (something sweet and sticky). Mix two parts sticky with one part borax. Go outside and wherever you see the ants marching along, place a few drops. They will quickly find it and take it back to their den, effectively wiping out the whole bunch. You might have to repeat in a couple of weeks if some new ones hatch out or if a new colony moves in. This is extremely effective and works quickly. And it's cheap! (01/10/2010)

By amseibel

Controlling Ants

Go to Lowe's or Home Depot and purchase Amdro. In late spring we sprinkle the stuff all over the yard and no problems all summer! If an ant hill should happen spring up (there are lots of ant hills in the horse farm across the road from us), we simply put a tablespoon of Amdro on the hill and by morning the ants are gone! It's been the most effective stuff we've ever used. (01/14/2010)

By frausnow

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January 8, 2010 Flag
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By Ellen Brown

Q: We live in an area where there is a lot of white sand and acres of pine trees. We've cleared out a couple of acres to live on, but are having trouble with ants: small, large, black, and fire. How can we control them? We have ant mounds every few yards.

Hardiness Zone: 8a

Linda from Mauk, GA

A: Linda,

Anthills tend to be a seasonal problem, and unfortunately, they are most prevalent on sandy soil. Because you have so many mounds, your best bet is to treat as many of the individual mounds as you can with a broadcast bait. You will need to kill the queen to get rid of the whole colony. Realize, however, that this may only get rid of the ants temporarily, and that they may reappear elsewhere in the yard (hopefully farther out on your property) with a newly appointed queen.

In terms of a broadcast bait, you can make you own by mixing 1 cup of sugar, 4 teaspoons of boric acid and 24 ounces of water in a glass jar. Close the jar tightly and shake the mixture thoroughly until all the crystals dissolve. Pour 1 cup of this mixture into a smaller jar filled partially with cotton balls. Screw the lid back on, seal around the lid with weatherproof tape and punch a few small holes in the center of the lid. Draw a skull and cross bones on the jar as an extra precaution for passers-by and keep pets a children away from the jars!

Put one of these near the entrance to each mound. The ants will get into the jar to eat the sugar and return to the nest and pass it on to the rest of the colony. If you start to see a lot of dead ants next to the jar, the solution is too strong. Start over with a new solution containing less boric acid.

Diatomaceous earth is also said to act like a barrier if sprinkled around the mounds. To ants it's like crossing small pieces of glass and will encourage them to relocate mounds to a safer location. For fire ants, you can also try pouring half a cup of Epsom salts into the nest and all around it. Short of bulldozing the mounds and clearing more of your property, repeated flooding of the mounds can also be effective. You have to do this every few days, however, and be very persistent.

Good Luck!


About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at


Controlling Ants

I live in the south, too and it is a problem year round here. I have found that boric acid powder (sold here as "Roachpruf") mixed with powdered sugar or plain sugar is as effective as anything. Most remedies are so expensive and you have to keep putting it out over and over. I think the ants just pack up and move anyway. This powder sells for $2.00 at the dollar stores here. It is supposed to kill the queen ant. Just remember to keep it away from your kids and pets. Read the label. Good luck. (05/24/2006)

By Joyce

Controlling Ants

I use diatomaceous earth. It's natural and you can buy big quantities to use in your spreader. It's not expensive and you can get either locally at a nursery or from (05/25/2006)

By Me

Controlling Ants

Used coffee grounds are not liked by ants. (05/26/2006)

By shopping_addiction_woman

Controlling Ants

Baking Soda: They will not cross this; I have put a line of this on the outside edge of our house. Now, if they are already in the house, I heard cinnamon works; I don't have a lot of experience with the cinnamon though. I have mixed the baking soda into my childrens' sandbox to keep them out, very effective.

Diane (05/27/2006)

By wdmurray

Controlling Ants

Go to your $$ store (Family dollar or Dollar General) and look for a liquid, different names, you put a small amount on little cardboard strip that comes with it. They will drink it and take it back to the nest and destroy it. I did this two years ago and no more ants. They swarm this stuff. I think I paid $1.99 at my Family dollar.

HYH (05/27/2006)

By sassybritches

Controlling Ants

An excellent South African product is Blue Death.
The main ingredient is Permethrin. (05/31/2006)

By Willem

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