Reader question… “My sempervivums are terribly overrun with ANTS. I don’t want to use anything poisonous because I have little ones and a puppy. Do you have any natural methods for getting rid of ants?” –Barb N.
In the past we’ve had some pretty bad ant problems here. Like you, I won’t use poisons, so over the years I think I have probably tried most of the natural methods for getting rid of ants. I have found a few that work really well… so well, in fact, that when I searched for ants to photograph to illustrate this post, I literally couldn’t find any… even under rocks or in their usual places. So thanks for the question… and for giving me the opportunity to discover that we no longer have a problem with ants!
Ants will not cross a line of dry powder. If you are trying to protect just a few plants, you can make a circle of powder around each plant… although this is not a practical solution if the ants are all over a garden. The powder can be anything from flour to cinnamon to red or black pepper. I have found that highly scented body powder (from the dollar store) works quite well and the ants don’t seem to like the strong smell any better than I do.
Another idea I have read about is to make a mixture of roughly equal parts of molasses, sugar, and yeast. This can be spread on a small strip of cardboard or left in a shallow container. I have not tried this one.
Some people scatter coffee grounds around the plants. Supposedly the ants will eat the coffee grounds and implode. Perhaps I just had too many ants at the time, but this method did not work for me.
The approach I have used for the last several years… and the one I think has probably eliminated the ant problem here… is to sprinkle baking soda around the plants. Sometimes I leave a small mound of baking soda in strategic places for the ants to ingest and carry back to their nests. The baking soda is poisonous to the ants. The first year I tried this, I used baking powder because that was what was recommended, and that also worked. Borax is also often suggested but I have never tried it because the baking soda works so well.
Hopefully one of these methods will work for you…