Help with ants!

girasole5July 22, 2014

Hi! This year my balcony plants (especially my mint) have been literally invaded by ants, which seek the water from the automatic irrigation system...then seek more excitement, coming into my house, too! Any ideas on how to discourage their permanency (without having to kill them and pollute my plants)?

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How large are the ants? Are they the tiny brown ones. the medium sized black ones with a shiny abdomen, or the large black ones with a somewhat hairy abdomen and large jaws? (The last are carpenter ants, which chew wood.)

Also, how high up are you, and where do the ants seem to be coming from? Can you spot an "ant trail"?

Ants tend to follow their own trails by scent. If you can spot the trail, you can "erase" it from a smooth surface by wahing it down with a detergent such as the green Palmolive dish detergent. Maybe a degreaser would work even better. You might have to do this several times to make the trail unworkable. That should at least keep them from coming into your apartment.

If they are coming from the base of your building, possibly they could be kept from climbing up to your location by leaving a water source down there--an innocently positioned watering can, etc. Leave a stick in it long enough for them to climb down to get the water. Meanwhile, do your best to wash off the portions of that trail that you can reach as well.

You might also be able to distract them with a bit of food, away from the trail to your balcony, but what kind depends on the kind of ant.

As a last resort, you could try to trap many of them in a large jar with a perforated lid and something like honey inside, placed close to their entrance to your patio, but some ant colonies have a tremendous amount of individuals so I would try the other methods first.

I don't like to poison them, either, as one never knows what would come in their place.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 5:32AM
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Thank you, Eibren!
Unfortunately, I cannot find a trail leading to my balcony... I am on the second floor of a large bldg surrounded by a garden. The ants are the small kind. They have really gotten into many of my plants; I wonder if they can hurt them? If not, I guess I should just learn to live with them, trying to keep them out of my house...maybe trying the honey jar idea. Thanks for your time and suggestions!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 2:47PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

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to your browser to see an inexpensive and effective way to rid your balcony of ants. It does kill them. Active ingredient: borax.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:10PM
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Thanks Al (Tapla),
I have tried "hotel" baits for 3 years,, changing them regularly, but they have not kept them away...And this year proves it! (I cannot get that particular kind.)
And after some thought, I would rather not kill them...

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 3:38AM
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