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Ant Hill in a Flower Bed?

Q: We have an ant hill in the center of a perennial flower bed. I tried boiling water (friend's recommendation) but it only resulted in killing a foot of Phlox, the ants still thriving! I would like to dig it out and plant tall perennials in center while keeping the mature phlox. Any suggestions?
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Hardiness Zone: 5a

Leah Meyer from Ottawa, Ontario

A: Leah,

Your objective is to kill the queen and change the ant's environment into one that is less hospitable. Since you only have one ant hill, it shouldn't be too difficult to either get rid of the queen, or convince the colony to relocate. Boiling water can be effective in some cases, but ants can tunnel deep, so if the water didn't come into direct contact with the queen the ants you killed will simply be replaced with new ones. To make a bait fit for a queen, mix 1 cup of sugar, 4 teaspoons of boric acid and 24 ounces of water in a glass jar. Shake the mixture thoroughly until all the crystals dissolve. Pour 1 cup of this mixture into a smaller jar filled half way up with cotton balls. Screw the lid back on, seal around the band with weatherproof tape and punch a few small holes in the center of the lid. Draw a skull and cross bones on the jar and keep pets a children away from the jars!

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Put one of these near the entrance of the mound. The ants will enter the jar, eat the sugar and return to the nest and pass it on to the rest of the colony-including the queen. A less toxic recipe includes mixing 2 parts molasses, with 1 part sugar and 1 part dry yeast. Use this to bait the jars in the same way.

If you want to try a different kind of physical treatment, spread diatomaceous earth around the mound. To ants, these tiny ground up bones are sharp and deadly to cross. It may eventually convince them to pack up and move to a new location, and it will work its way into your soil and help with aeration at the same time. You can also try mixing up a slurry of orange juice and orange peels. Pour this directly into the ant hill. A chemical in citrus fruit is supposedly toxic to ants.

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Good luck!

Ellen

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 http://www.sustainable-media.com

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May 9, 20060 found this helpful

Cayenne, or Tabasco is supposed to repel them....maybe get a big bottle and pour it down? It shouldn't hurt the plants.

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May 10, 20060 found this helpful

We have problems with fire ants down here in Mississippi, USA. We sprinkle grits on and around any ant hills. The ants eat them and carry them to the queen ant to eat. After the grits are eaten, when the ants drink water, the grits swell up enough to kill them.

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We put out grits a few days before it rains to ensure they'll have water to drink after their feast. This is the only non-toxic method I know of. P.S.-Grits are dried, ground hominy corn. They are a bit bigger than cornmeal.

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May 10, 20060 found this helpful

If you go to <www.whyy.org/.../boricacid.html>, you'll see a recipe for ant killer that's wonderful. It's all natural. The key is that once you put it out, YOU CAN'T KILL ANY ANTS. You want them to take the poison into the nest. It usually takes about 2 weeks for the ants to disappear.

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May 11, 20060 found this helpful

Used coffee grounds are helpful with ants, they hate them.

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By Hannah Wilson (Guest Post)
May 11, 20060 found this helpful

As Reba Gayle said grits do work, so does cornmeal. I will often use a package of jiffy cornbread mix. The grain expands and the ants die. Take care, Hannah

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By Judie (Guest Post)
May 6, 20070 found this helpful

I have the same problem and also live in Ottawa - did you try any of these solutions and did they work???

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By sherry (Guest Post)
July 18, 20070 found this helpful

I sprinkled cinnamon on an ant hill where I wanted to plant flowers and they moved. Now I have morning glories there.

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June 15, 2006
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