Ants can be a nuisance if they get out of hand, especially when they start to breed and multiply. Seeing ants in your home or garden is never a good sign. They can do a lot of damage since they usually get food in groups. With hundreds of species of ants, not all of them are destructive and can damage things in your garden or home.
What Can Ants Damage?
With thousands of species, different types of ants damage different parts of your home and garden.
Ants may not be a welcoming sight, and it may be hard to get rid of them in your garden or home, most notably when they come back. This article will discuss the different things that ants tend to damage as well as how to prevent them from damaging these things.
How Ants Damage Plants in Your Garden
There are some circumstances where ants can damage your plants. There are times where ant builds their colonies under the plants. It can harm your plants because building their colonies under the plant can disturb the roots and deprive the plant of water.
Another thing that the ants may do is bury the plant during excavation. When this happens, the most affected plants are the ones in rockeries and flower plants. Black and red ants are the ones that are responsible for doing this to your plants.
The Fire Ants are the ones that do a significant deal of damage to your plants. They destroy them by tunneling through its root system or feeding off the young buds. The Fire Ants even tend to feed off of nutritious seeds.
Now, the common garden ant that you may find in your plants is the ones that can help the plant. They are the ones who feed off of aphids, mealybugs, and scales. They can even kill caterpillars that can damage your plants.
Ants love feeding on the honeydew that is left over by insects on your plant. Honeydew is the sweet and nutritious excrement that insects produce. If aphids, mealybugs, and scales are not able to produce honeydew, ants will most likely eat them.
Checkout Can Fire Ants Kill Your Pets
When ants eat the honeydew off of the plants, it helps the plants to grow. Honeydew can promote the growth of sooty molds where it can create dark pores on the plants. This may result in the leaves turning into the color black, which can reduce photosynthesis.
Aside from honeydew, ants also feed on any sugary substances such as nectars. There are also some circumstances where they eat ants as well. Other species of ants feed on seeds, which is very troublesome in your garden.
There are a lot of factors that can attract ants to your plants. One great example is the compost pile that you nourish has a sweet aroma of rotting banana peels and cantaloupe rinds that spreads into the air.
Another factor that can attract ants to your plants is the thick layer of wood chip mulch. Now, this may help your plants by having weed suspension and moisture retention. However, this also creates a cozy habitat for ants.
Now, ants have pros and cons when it comes to the health of your plants in the garden. However, if you think that the ants are ruining your plants, there are many ways on how you can prevent them from ruining your beautiful plants.
How Ants Damage Lawns and Houses
Ants are not considered as dangerous pests. However, they can pose significant damage to your health as well as your lawns and houses. You need to know how to care for mounds on your lawn. Also, on how to prevent ants from entering your home.
The main problem that you may have in your lawn is that it can create mounds or a hill of soil, which serves as an entry point to an ant’s home. They live underground in hot, dry areas of your lawn.
They do not feed on grass but can ruin your plants in different ways. The mounds of soil that ants create can smother and kill grass plants. The land that surrounds the mound can dry out, which can also kill the plants.
Ants also feed on newly planted grass seeds, and sometimes they store seeds in their homes. Having these mounds on your lawn may be a nuisance because it can also ruin the look of your lawn. It may also be hard to mow it because of the mounds you may encounter along the way.
There are different ways on how you can control the ants that may be present in your lawn. It can be a bit tricky since you may have children and pets hanging out on your lawn every day. Applying insecticides or pesticides can be dangerous.
One home remedy that you can do is place a three percent solution of dish soap with water on the affected area on your lawn. Another treatment that you do is put borax with sugar water on the affected area.
If there are too many mounds present on your lawn, and it is hard to get rid of using home remedies, it is best to use chemicals instead. The best method that you can do in these scenarios is spot control.
Ants may enter your home because they are looking for food. When they find out that your home is an excellent place to scout food, they will leave a smell so that the other ants can follow them into your home. This is one of the reasons why they spread so quickly.
Carpenter ants are the number one ant species that can damage your home. When ants are eating away in your home, it can get gruesome as time passes by. Carpenter ants do not usually travel far from their nests to find food.
They don’t eat wood, but they burrow themselves inside the wood. When you find wood shavings, that would be a great sign that you have carpenter ants in your home. This can weaken the foundation of your home.
If you have carpenter ants in your home, this usually means that you have a moisture problem. Other than wood, they can also burrow in foam installation, as well.
Aside from the carpenter ants, sugary and Pharaoh’s ants can also enter your home. They are attracted to anything sweet. This means that they can infest any food that you may have lying around.
Pharaoh’s ants are another ant species that is hard to get rid of. Aside from food, they can build their home in your cabinet, voids, walls, and refrigerator insulation. If you try to get rid of them with substances, they tend to scatter and cause multiple problems.
There are a couple of home remedies that you can do to prevent the ants from entering your home. Placing dried herbal plants on the entry points of your home will help. For the sugary ants, it is best to keep your home clean and keep your food stored properly.
If you think that the infestation is too much to handle, it is best to call the professionals to handle the extermination.
How to Control Ants in Your Garden
There are a lot of ways on how you can prevent ants from ruining your plants.
One example is using inorganic mulch such as crushed rocks, ground-up tires, or synthetic landscape fabric to avoid attracting ants to your plants.
You can also create your insect repellent at home. Ants are sensitive when it comes to odors. Just like they are attracted to sweet, certain smells can repel them. They hate the smell of mint, camphor, and clove oil.
Ant Repellant Plants
You can test these smells in a small cotton ball and see which one is the most effective. Another great way is to plant ant repellant plants in your garden, which will be mentioned below. You can also blend some hot peppers and place them on a towel and wipe the affected areas.
Cover the Mound
Fire Ants are probably the most destructive species. They do not only hurt your plants, but their bites can be very painful. To destroy a Fire Ant mound, cover the mound with a container and pour boiling water around the container.
- Once you have done that, wait one minute. Turn over the container with a stick and pour another gallon of boiling water into the ants seeking refuge. Repeat this process until all of the ants are completely removed.
Another plant that ants are attracted to are flowers that are rich with nectar as well as sweet fruits. Although ants do not hurt plants, gardeners would not want a lot of ants swarming on their plants.
One thing that you can do to repel ants on your flowers and fruits is to use sticky traps. This would prevent the ants from climbing on the plants. You buy these sticky products in the market such as Tanglefoot or create them yourself.
Ant colonies are another significant problem that you would need to face when you have a garden. Baits laden with insecticides are more likely to target ants instead of your plants. You can mix a cup of borax and a cup of honey near the ant activity.
- The ants will feed on this toxic and will bring it back to the queen ant. Thus, this will result in the death of the colony. This method may take a lot of patience for you to see the results. It takes time for the ants to distribute the toxic in their homes.
Now, if the homemade solution is too much work or a bit too messy for you, it is always a great idea to purchase a ready-made boric acid ant bait.
For more information on how borax works with read Using Borax Powder To Kill Ants – A Complete Guide
Plants That Ants Avoid
As mentioned above, ants are very attracted to anything sweet. However, there are also those plants that ants avoid. This is because of the smell that these plants have. The ant’s least favorite scent is mint.
Here are a couple of plants that you can place in your garden so that you do not have to worry about ants infesting your flowers or fruits.
This herbal plant is part of the mint herb family and can grow up to three feet high. You should place dried catnip on the location where you think ants can enter, such as windows and doors. Putting dried catnip works like a charm, and you do not need to worry about your ants ruining your plants or entering your home.
On your plants, however, it is excellent to plant catnip with your flowers, vegetables, and fruits. This will prevent the ants from climbing your crops.
Pennyroyal has leaves that are slightly hairy and narrow, while mauve or white flowers grow in tiers of clusters. It has a strong peppermint scent and does best in moist soils. This plant is known to deter mosquitoes and fleas, which is why it is best to grow in damp places.
Just like catnip, it is best to place dried pennyroyal inside your home where you think ants can get in. Due to its strong mint smell, it can repel any ant species that may get in your home or your plants.
If you already used all of the insecticides and pesticides available, and the ants keep coming, sage is your answer. The strong smell that sage possesses repels the ants that may be a harm to your plants. You can grow sage in your garden to protect your other plants.
Unlike the pennyroyal and catnip, it is best to place fresh sage in your home instead of it dried up. You can place this herbal plant in different places in your home as well.
Ants can be a curse and a blessing at the same time. They can be a great help to your plants by getting rid of any insects that may ruin them.
However, there are other species where they can destroy your plants by building their colony near them. Mounds on your lawn can kill the grass by having dried soil around the entrance of the ant’s home. This would prevent the grass from growing. Some ants feed on seeds, or they will bring the seeds in their nests. Using home remedies and planting plants that repel ants are the best solution in case of infestation. Ants can damage your plants, homes, and lawns, but this is a part of their daily lives. Knowing the right prevention and solution is the best way to avoid any infestations that you may face.
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