View Full Version : Need a natural way to keep ants away

11-08-2004, 06:34
I recently discovered that my bonsai - which is large for a bonsai has tons of ants living in it. I moved it to my upper balcony about 2 weeks ago. When it was on a lower one it was fine. But now everytime I water it swarms of ants pour out! I'm talking about hundreds start crawling up the tree, on to the rocks, onto the floor. IT'S CRAZY! How did they make a home so fast?
Anyway, I need to get them out of there and I don't want to damage my tree or my other herbs that are around it. I have had the tree for about 15 years now so I can't take any chances with it. And since there is such little room and dirt in the pot...I have no idea.....

11-08-2004, 07:29
You might try some mint oil , since ants don't like that scent. I wonder if it would be possible for you to get rid of all the dirt in the pot and start with new stuff? Then you could surround the pot on the outside with a ring of comet kitchen cleanser, which has bleach in it. Ants don't like to walk across it.

You might also try baiting the ants with a commercial product- one of those little plastic things that has a poison in it they like. It will take a little while , but eventually they will get it back to the nest and poison themselves with it. There are also recipes for baits to make out of natural ingredients.


11-08-2004, 08:29

I have personally used red pepper...and baking soda.

11-08-2004, 13:19
I just finished reading the provided links. I think I am going to use grits. I can sprinkle them on my planys without a problem. Cool. Thanks so much!

11-08-2004, 20:28
If a good soaking of your plant will not hurt it, do that to remove all the ants from the soil.
Once they have 'moved out' then find some tray container to put under your pot- Most bonsi plants I have seen are in ceramic containers and have no drain holes, for if they did then the roots would grow out the hole and defeat the bonsi purpose....so with a holeless container, you can fill the tray with water....that will keep the ants out. If your container is unglazed, then you will also have a self watering system, for the water in the tray will slowly soak through the container and keep your plant watered.

12-08-2004, 02:15
Another thing that is good to kill bugs, but is harmless to plants & other animals, is Diatomacious Earth. It's the shells of microscopic ocean things, which cut the exoskeltons of insects, so the bugs die. I would think it's even good for plants. I would think you could get it at garden supply stores or natural food stores.

12-08-2004, 09:20
I have also heard that lemon essential oil will keep away ants.

12-08-2004, 14:31
Lemon EO does work. Cats don't like it either ;)

12-08-2004, 14:40
I know this might sound like I am a weirdo. But have you asked them to leave?
I can't get it to work with other insects but have had success with ants in the past by just sitting down and explain that I need them to move out and that they are in the wrong place. It usually takes about a week and they sometimes move back again the next summer so I have to ask them again. But they do actually move on.
One would think a bonsai is a bad place for them, not enough space to really expand their quarters.

13-08-2004, 09:37
Cool !! Jema's an ench- ant-ress !!

I am afraid they would just laugh and curse back at me though.

(Although a bug recently did me a favor and bit a nasty real estate agent and gave him West Nile virus. But I didn't ask for that. )

13-08-2004, 10:00
still got ants??

If so, I'd suggest using boric acid/borax. Derived from the mineral sassolite. Can be bought as a powder.

I'll have to treat my parent's large potted fern that sits outside while housesitting. Moved and watered it the other day and was totally shocked to see thousands of ants pouring out! It sits on a wooden deck and I haven't seen any at all around the base ... until now!!

Red Emma
13-08-2004, 10:16
Ants do seriously avoid areas covered with mint oil. The problem is, once the oil dries they have no compunction in trudging right over the area.

Last spring I wanted to use some sage blossoms in a rose bouquet. When I brought the sage blossoms into the kitchen I discovered they were saturated with ants. I filled a smallish pail with water and poured mint oil over it, and stirred it around. I then dipped each stalk of blossoms in the pail. Wow! Those ants exploded out of the place.

Our whole block is fighting an ant infestation. Has been for several years. Every time one of us gets rid of the little critters they go next door and bide their time. Then send out a few scouts and first thing you know they're back.

I think I'll have a Jema talk with them and see if I can get them to move into the Willamette River. Or some place of the kind.

13-08-2004, 10:20
Actually, just reading what Red Emma said, reminds me that I do tell bugs in my garden not to eat certain plants. I tell them there are plenty of other plants that I don't mind them eating, and usually direct them to the weeds :)

My hubby isn't the same way inclined, so I usually try to convince them to move before he sees them.

Red Emma
13-08-2004, 13:57
Rabble's conversation with the bugs re her husband reminds me of talks Himself and I have in the kitchen. Usually he's gleefully squashing ants with his thumb. I say something like, "They're only doing what they were designed to do."

"Yeah," he keeps squashing. "And so am I."

About this time he saw a nature cable program in which some tribe considers the things a delicacy. "I'll get you a pot of chocolate, if you like! You can dip them."

I'll try talking to them. See if it does any good.

13-08-2004, 15:17
We have a horrible infestation at my work, and the Orkin guy does not seem be be able to control them.
They say our building was built on an ant hill..(whose bright idea was that???)

I talk to them, and it does not good. I always tell those little you know whats to get out of my bleep bleep area...... maybe they aren't liking what I am saying????})

13-08-2004, 23:02
Could be worse hehe.. You could have to deal with these:


14-08-2004, 08:19
If you have neighborhoods full of ants and recurring infestations, you have to bait them . You have to get them to take the poison back to the nests and kill the queens. Leaving your lights on outside may attract the flying ants that are looking to set up new colonies too.

If you have carpenter ants, they will be attracted any kind of wet or rotting wood. You will have to trim any tree branches that touch your house too. This type of ant may be immune to commerical baits, unless you buy ones specifically for them.

Boric acid might kill your greenery . But sweeping the powder into the cracks and crevices of your house is an excellent thing to do, and it will remain viable for 8 years. Works on roaches and earwigs also .


15-08-2004, 12:34
Have you tried spraying around the plant with amonia? I heard it eliminates their trail smell and they don't like the fumes.
Come to think of it, that might not be too good for your plant, but I use it undiluted in my house and it works.

15-08-2004, 16:51
My two cents :)
I have a 1year old and 2 ferrets in my house so i have to be careful about what I leave around. I have read that andts will nto cross a line, but they walk over my kitchen and bath (what they are finding interesting in the bathroom is beyond me) which is tile --full of lines -- so they say make a line with liquid soap but be careful not to slip on it, or cinimmon (it works great because it cuts the scent trail they leave) or even chalk....I use cinnamon I leave it on the ground for a week or so, then vacuum it up, then mop, they haven't come back all summer. Vineger with water used to work, but they eventually came back.
Here is the other suggestion, but it is so terrible i couldn't do it. Leave out instant grits, hey take them back to the queen who eats them, they expand in her stomach, it explodes, she dies, the colony dies. Yuck!
And try this, we once had an infenstation of Egyptian ants, they are white, we were told that is because they eat fat, and fat is white.