Ants. You might not associated ants as pests to your garden; after all, they don’t chew or suck the juice out of leaves. So, why is it important to remove ants from your garden?

Ants have a symbiotic relationship with pests such as aphids and whiteflies. They love the honeydew that is excreted by these pests and will protect their food source from other insects, including beneficial insects. So before you introduce any beneficial insects into your garden, you must first remove the ants.

As with other pests, it is best to use an organic method of removing ants ans you will inadvertently kill off any beneficial insects that are also in your garden. Ant traps, although concealed, are not preferable as the ants will take some of the poisonous bait back to their home, dropping some along the way. This is especially a problem when your garden is in an aquaponics system as the poison will kill your fish and will also be consumed by the plants you will some day eat yourself.

A few safe ways to remove ants:

You can try using white vinegar and water; ants hate vinegar. Mix a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray it directly onto the ants to kill them. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, use lemon juice instead. They’re averse to the citric acid in lemon juice, so spray it as a deterrent around the perimeter of your house. Mix up a solution: 1 part lemon juice to 3 parts water and use a spray bottle to apply.

Use dish soap and water. Fill a water bottle with one part dish soap and two parts water; shake to mix thoroughly. Spray the the ants with the mixture. They will immediately halt and suffocate. You can also lay out several dishes of soapy water to kill ants. Place sugar around the tray to attract them to it. This won’t take out an entire nest of ants, however.

Sprinkle diatomaceous earth near ant hills. Food-grade diatomaceous earth is a very effective insecticide that won’t harm humans or pets. It’s composed of ground up fossilized diatoms. When insects walk over the powder, the tiny fossil shards scratch the waxy outer coating on their exoskeletons, causing their bodies to dry out. Sprinkle DE in close proximity to any any ant activity or ant hills you’ve seen; use an applicator or a dusting bulb.

For safety, wear a mask or cloth over your face while handling diatomaceous earth as the tiny particles can be hard on your lungs when you breathe them in.Diatomaceous earth is ineffective when it gets wet, or if the air is damp and humid. Simply dry it out to regain it’s effectiveness.