Discussion in 'Recipes & Remedies' started by garnede, May 1, 2011.
What is a method or series of methods to deal with ants in an urban permaculture garden? Thanks
Where are they and what are they doing exactly? Ants are part of the background fauna of our world, so is there a reason that they SHOULDN'T be in your garden???
Native ant species should be part of the background, but not invasive species like Argentinean brown ants and African fire ants. They are farming aphids and eating my fresh strawberries.
I read a few things recomending cornmeal
they eat it,but cant digest it, then drink and it expands and kills them works on fire ants too
The fire ants are canibals and will eat dead ants and die when they drink water.
I did try cornmeal, and it wiped out our native ants and left it open for the invasive ants.
Here is an article by Paul Wheaton, called Ants and Aphids on my Apple Tree. He talks about using diatomaceous earth as an organic solution to ant overload, and then at the bottom of the article, (in blue) he talks about how he would change his approach as a permaculturalist, such as by creating a polyculture and utilizing plants like catnip. Here is the link: https://www.richsoil.com/antsandaphids/
What eats the invasive ants?
The question lends itself to another - for me.
Why would you come to a permaculture forum for suggestions on killings things. Surely we work with nature.
Even in organics there seems to be a divide between people with an organic ethic and those that want to replace chemicals with other forms of "control"
Give the ants some purpose by feeding them where you can use them - perhaps to look after termites or maybe where you plan to put a tennis court one day.
Good one PP.
I heard of some interesting research recently about ants and their role in putting organic matter into the soil. In some cases it seemed they were as effective as earthworms. I'm not sure who conducted but it was an Australian study.
P.S. I like your signature Purplepear
I could't find anything at that link on ants
"Deal with" ants?
The very phrase suggests a mindset that doesn't allow one to work with nature instead of taking up arms against it.
Mostly the sprays we use to "deal with' insects are more toxic and more of a problem to us than the insects themselves (including the dreaded cockroach).
Stop being brainwashed by companies that want to sell you 'cides' (bactericides. pesticides etc). They are not necessary for us to live. Whereas the insects and bacteria are.
Since I live in the city a normal balance can not be achieved. In the wild some animals will eat ants, but they generally get run over before they can get to my house. I have given up on pesticides, and other chemicals, but what benefit am I getting from letting the ants thrive? Maybe leaf cutter ants add organic matter to the soil, but do the rest?
Without trying to catch an armadillo and putting it into my back yard what else eats them? I can tolerate some ants, but 50+ hills in a 1/4 acre yard is too many. I prefer to not have pets, children or myself get bitten on a regular basis. By "deal with" I meant is there a natural way to bring them into balance, not poison every last one.
Thanks for the help.
What harm are the ants doing?
Have you seriously got that many?
What sort, and what do they eat?
Most hate peppermint oil
You could try controlling the aphids with horticultural oil (cooking oil and liquid detergent diluted in water and sprayed on to the plants the aphid calls home). Then there'll be no nice yummy aphid juice to keep the ants there.
I don't have any experience with the nastier varieties that you have, but ants like it dry at my place. Keeping moisture in the soil with ground covers and mulches might help.
Spiders and birds would be my guess about what keeps them in check. Are you knocking down spider habitats? Do you have water and food to attract birds to your garden?
If the anthills are close enough then find 2 hills near one another then knock the crown over where both crowns cross. the ants will go to war with the other ant colony thinking they are to blame for their hills destruction. Another possible way is the use of snails. I read somewhere that ants contract a parasitic fungus when eating the slim from snails. The parasite causes a mushroom of types to grow from their head which in turns matures and explodes sending spores that infect other ants.
I have sprayed a onion, garlic, pepper, and soap liquid for the aphids. I have trimmed some azaleas, but I have planted plumb, quince, apple, pear, peach, ect. I don't have a bird bath, my 2 cats won't leave them alone, but my neighbors have feeders, baths, and all of us have bird houses and mature trees.
I stumbled across this thread doing some research and found many of the responses in this thread very unhelpful. There's a few helpful solutions, but the comments chiding OP for asking about constructive methods to deal with ants (sort of a no true permaculture fallacy) come across as snide and pretentious. Ants can be invasive, and 'dealing' with them can be an important thing for a small gardener.
talk about snide and pretentious. "Dealing"with things is not really in the relms of Permaculture bob. We tend to work with a situation to get an outcome modeled on natures laws and not the law of the west.
May I suggest looking at the health of your soil?
Plants under stress from potential nutrient deficiency exude sugars which attract pests such as aphids and ants.
By increasing the health of your soil to ensure there are no nutrient deficiencies and also the amount of humus in your soil, you are increasing the health of your plants which minimizes food sources for unwanted pests.
I have observed this in relation to my broad beans which were just decimated with aphids and ants and also with my lemon tree. By fixing the health of the plant I fixed my pest problem.
As an added deterrent, especially if they are getting into your fruit trees, you can place a grease band around the trunk to stop them from entering the tree. Also the herbs pennyroyal and spearmint are meant to act as deterrents if you have specific areas you would like to deter them from eg the house.
Your particular situation may not be as simple as this but may be worth a shot Best of luck
I believe you are right about soil health. I have a compost bin that was over run with ants for quite a while. I have not added any more "greens" to that "Pile" for four months and upon seeing it today, I thought I'd do a little digging and found not a trace of an ant (or worm for that matter). They will go to material that needs breaking down for the plants, but my only plants that they like to gang up on are some stressed okra. I'm not going to worry myself with them right now, as the season is just about over for okra. When I take them out I will put in some extra "Organic fertilizer" and compost for the next crop. Willie says it will "draw" the ants in greater numbers. We'll see how this turns out. By the Bye. They are Fire Ants.
Live today as if it is your last?
There are other things I'd rather do than pull weeds on my last day on earth.
Start with empathy, people care.
It's NO easy to see our crops and efforts failing while we think the ants are the cause, loosing time and food is deeply sad and can cause trouble in our livelihood, people seek solutions and when they think of killing ants, hold lightly their heart to save both people and ants.
It happened to me loosing small crops, but I did want to loose Ants too, I guess about Ants, just keep it simple, follow nature, follow the purpose or function of it's ants, nature seek balance, do the work with them, otherwise you both are not in accordance on how you will garden together.
Avoid tilling as they will need to restore the harm, add compost and mulch fertilization as this completely changes the temperature, moisture and their work needs and direction, feed healthy Food to them if that makes sense for both of you, or try planting plants that are ok with Ants even if we keeped poor ecosystem practices on smaller scales, make their life easier and fulfill your intention to bond with nature.
Healthy soil is key, that's right. Notice the patterns of behavior from Ants, appreciation is key to relate to wisdom, everything tends to gardens towards life sustaining ecosystem.
NO healthy soil = Heavy duty workers like Ants to restore life at scale we often dismiss it's impact.
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