Ask a Question forum: Question about ants

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Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
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pirl
Aug 23, 2014 1:53 PM CST
At a nursery today I lifted a plastic pot of purple salvia that I had the ideal place for in the garden. Within seconds ants covered my hands and arms so I quickly put the plant back and brushed off the ants. What do the endless amount of ants signify? They weren't on the blooms, just in the pot and all over the pot.
Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
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JuneOntario
Aug 23, 2014 2:47 PM CST
I bet if you emptied out that pot, you'd find a complete ant nest in it - queen, workers, soldiers, eggs, and all. The pot must have been sitting in one place for a while for the nest to have that many ants in it! I hope you didn't get bitten, Arlene.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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pirl
Aug 23, 2014 2:49 PM CST
Thanks for the reply. I didn't get bitten but was shocked by the huge number of ants.
Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
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Moonhowl
Aug 23, 2014 2:54 PM CST
They have built a nest in the pot, Pirl. We have a problem with fire ants doing that here. When it rains, the ants climb in the drain holes and make new nests for the queen and eggs. They use the drain holes as doors. The big problem is that potted plants are usually killed by the ants. They tunnel around and leave roots exposed to air.
Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
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JuneOntario
Aug 23, 2014 3:02 PM CST
I'm not sure how many ants you can fit into a flowerpot, but it's a lot. They all came out to see why their home was being moved. You're lucky none of them nipped you. I disturbed a nest while I was weeding a flowerbed a few days ago, and got a nasty pinch from one of the ants. Unfortunately, it died for its bravery. I mistook the pain for a deerfly bite and swatted it.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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pirl
Aug 23, 2014 3:05 PM CST
It was an alarming site and the ants moved so fast. I'm glad none of them remained on my arms.
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Aug 23, 2014 4:06 PM CST
Here is what I do for ants that nest in my pots.

If you're organic, sit the pot on some diatomaceous earth and sprinkle some on the top. The idea is to make sure that foraging ants have to step on it. Will take awhile but if you are diligent about keeping up the DE it will eventually kill them.

If not organic then sprinkle some granular insecticide underneath the pot and some on top of the soil and water. That should take care of them in about a week.

For future reference I mix up about a quarter cup of DE to a half gallon of potting mix. I use the DE laced potting mix on the bottom of whatever pot I'm using, about 2 - 3 inches worth then fill the rest with untreated potting mix. It seems to do a most excellent job out of keeping them from making nests in pots.
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[Last edited by Xeramtheum - Aug 23, 2014 4:07 PM (+)]
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Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
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RoseBlush1
Aug 23, 2014 4:14 PM CST
I've always used cinamon sticks on the surface of my containers and a few under the pots and have never had an another ant problem.

Smiles,
Lyn

Edited for typo
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
[Last edited by RoseBlush1 - Aug 23, 2014 4:19 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #685822 (8)
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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pirl
Aug 23, 2014 5:46 PM CST
Good idea. Thanks. I have lots of cinnamon sticks so I think I'll use them if I ever face the problem.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Aug 24, 2014 12:21 PM CST
You can also use ground cinnamon, it's repellent to insects, and also somewhat antiseptic and fungicidal. I use it for potting up orchids too.

A whole stick of cinnamon seems like a lot for one pot. Do you break them up?
Elaine

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Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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pirl
Aug 24, 2014 12:24 PM CST
Good to know. Thanks.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
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RoseBlush1
Aug 24, 2014 2:41 PM CST
Re: breaking them up ... it depends on the size of the pot. I was growing about 50 roses in containers in the San Diego area. Yes, I broke them up for the smaller pots with mini roses, but with the HTs, floribundas and shrub roses, I did not break them up because those roses were planted in much larger containers.

Ants will actually bring aphids to a rose so that they can harvest the honeydew. Before I started using the cinnamon sticks, I had to wash the aphids off daily. Afterwards, that was no longer an issue.

I've used cinnamon sticks on my sliders, inside my window screens, etc and have never had an ant inside the house either. Why they work ? I really don't know. I just know it works.

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Aug 25, 2014 11:08 AM CST
If I see a conga line of ants, I make a cinnamon line to break it up...or..I spray windex multi vinegar around my container. Instant kill. But I do not spray in the pot itself. I can water the pot to coax those ants to scatter out, then I spray windex outside the pot. There is this organic spray that works too...just very strong eucalyptus smell though. Good for spraying outdoors. My ultimate last resort is Diatomaceous earth too.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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pirl
Aug 25, 2014 12:04 PM CST
Sounds like cinnamon is the easy fix for the problem. Thanks!
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Aug 29, 2014 3:40 PM CST
Coffee grounds seem to work well for us. It doesn't kill them but they don't like it and they leave. Sprinkle on the top and on the surface outside where the pot is sitting.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Aug 29, 2014 6:45 PM CST
Thanks. I have ants in a very large window box outside so I'll give them a try there.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Sep 5, 2014 1:11 PM CST
Anne, do you also use diatomaceous earth for flowerbeds? I have a bunch of ants in where my roses are growing, so I picked up some DE, but I'm not sure how to use it over a large open area. Suggestions?
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