ants invading big planters

alexandraroseJuly 19, 2006

Hi everyone, I have a question, I have wine barrels as planters and a colony of ants have moved into one of them. I want to prevent this from happening to any more of my containers and I do not use chemicals. So I was wondering does anyone know of a way to keep ants from moving into containers?

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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I have a coworker who uses ammonia - about a cap per gallon and waters well once with that. I tried it on some indoor ficus and it didn't hurt the trees. It also didn't totally fix the ant problem, but they were repeatedly coming inside from outdoors.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 8:08AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Boric acid laced baits are very effective at ridding a whole colony of ants. Boric acid powder could be sprinkled outside of your container, but it is not good for the soil (or plants growing in the soil). That's why the pre-mixed baits might do the trick for you.

I don't have any good ideas about how to PREVENT ants from colonizing your large containers...but I am sure that others will! ;-)

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 1:03PM
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Find the place they enter the container and wash the area with boiling water, let it dry for about 2 min. then more boiling water, let it dry and then more water but be careful dont get the water in the pot or on the plant, after 3 times the ants usualy move on. If not get some amdro and sprinkle it on the ground around the pots.that wont get on your plants.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 2:03PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I've never heard of the boiling water concept. Wonder why that is purported to work? I ditto the use of Amdro as a very good (outdoor) ant bait, but it is a chemical pesticide used as a bait. Alexandrarose prefers not to use chemicals, but I think she might be encouraged to place one boric acid bait container inside her wine barrels. Maybe?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 3:20PM
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The way the boiling water works is disturb the ants as they run out in the open use the water, about 2 min. later more ants run out so more water and this soon gets them looking for a safer place to live, works for me.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 10:58AM
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Ann_in_Houston(z9 Houston)

It isn't cheap, but the silica gel that is used for drying flowers is good to sprinkle on the ground around the barrels. If you sprinkle it fairly thickly, the ants are dessicated as they try to cross the line. We use it just inside the doorway from our patio. I have not tried letting it dry out after a rain, so I don't know if that ruins it or not. Ours didn't get wet, being just inside the door.
If it gets scattered you have to replace it, but it does work.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 7:09PM
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Ann_in_Houston(z9 Houston)

another thought - Alexandrarose, would you object to insecticides that are contained so that they don't come into contact with you or your plants and animals? If you wouldn't mind contained baits, the Combat ant traps are fantastic. They come in an outdoor version, that will withstand the weather, and are very effective. I think that any ants that are attracted to them will take the 'food' back to the queen, which will then kill the colony and head them off from your barrels.
If containment of the chemicals in the baits doesn't address your concerns, then maybe you will get good use of the silica idea and someone else will like this one.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 7:21PM
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what is the problem with ants? dont they aerate the soil for free and eliminate certain pests? not to mention free ferts

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 8:19PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Ants, when they set up housekeeping in containers, can create air pockets around the roots. They can do this in the soil, too. They can also make tending to the plants difficult, depending on what kind of ant. I have no idea what you mean about 'free fertilizer', perhaps you could elaborate on that interesting concept, lol. I'm sure that you don't mean 'ant manure'.

They tend to protect some of the most troublesome of plants pests such as aphids and scale. Some ant species will also harm the plants, damaging fruit especially.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 3:46AM
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depending on soil type the added air pockets could be a blessing.

and while yes they do tend to facilitate aphids and scale some also kill large insects for their meat such as catepillar,grasshopper, and other crop damaging insects.

others are also great pollinators and seed dispersers. my greenhouse was pollinated by the fans and little ants alone.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 11:20AM
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I don't like ants just for the fact that they do harbor and nuture pests... they like the honeydew that is secreted from many pets. Anyway, Alexandrarose, one of the things that I do when I have an ant problem is mix some plain table salt with some cinnamon(I don't like to use chemicals either) and sprinkle it around the container(if the container is in grass or a flowerbed, you will want to move it to keep the salt from killing anything). I don't think this actually kills the ants, but they DO NOT like the smell and most will not want crawl over it. After a couple of applications(from being washed away), the ants seemed to move on elsewhere. Sometimes, you have to have some patients with this method, but it has always worked for me. I also use this method when I find them trying to make their way into our home since I have a cat and I know this will not harm her! Just makes her sneeze! LOL!!!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 3:53PM
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I use a couple of methods, When planting, I put 2 inches of DE in the bottom of the pot. Then, I use rocks, or the stoneware legs sold at nurseries, to prevent contact between the bottom of the pot and the soil. This has stopped them so far, and I have 8 large pots out in the yard.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 1:23PM
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    Bookmark   August 3, 2006 at 10:20PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Capslock is anoying

You could try some diatomaceous earth, it does tend to get in the joints and cut them all up.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 7:47PM
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