The Q&A Archives: Ants Are Killing Plants

Question: I'm trying to have a chemical free garden in the city. This <br>year I had a problem with ants making their homes at the<br>base of my plants (basil, coreopsis etc) and killing the <br>plants by stripping the base of the plant (eating away at<br>thestem). They climb all over the plants as well. Any idea<br>what it is and what I can do about it? I tried diatomaceous<br>earth with really limited results.

Answer: I aspire for a chemical free garden myself having a toddler all about. I have used two things successfully when dealing with ants. The first is a homemade bug spray: 1 gallon water, 1/2 tsp. eucalyptus oil, 1 tbsp. vegetable oil, 1 tbsp. dishwashing liquid. Combine all ingredients and shake well. Pour liquid into a spray bottle. When applying shake often to keep components evenly distributed. This "potion" works well on ants and aphids in particular (cats don't like it much either). <br><br>The other ant remedy should be kept out of the accessibility of children. Make a paste out of boric acid powder and sweetened condensed milk. Add powder and condensed milk until you have a consistency somewhat like fudge. Roll into small balls and place balls where ants are a problem. Resist the urge to kill the ants when they come to feed...they will carry the bait back to their nest where they will share it, ingest it and die. When using this remedy outside I place the balls in a sheltered area where the rain won't melt the bait and in such a way that my children/pets can't get to them.

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