How to Get Rid of Ants in Your Florida Yard

Kate Mitchell

February 1, 2024

Is your yard crawling with ants? Are you fed up of seeing these tiny invaders every time you step outside? It can be unpleasant to be surrounded by bugs every time you go outside - and it's even worse if they get into your house. However, some kinds of ants may actually be beneficial for your outdoor space. Find out why, and discover some natural ways to deal with ants, in this article.

Pros and Cons of Ants

Most people are aware of some of the negative effects of having ants in their yard. Carpenter ants excavate wood to create their nests, which can cause structural damage. Some other species, including fire ants, have bites or stings that cause pain.

Many of us have also seen ant mounds, which look unsightly on an otherwise tidy lawn. Ants' underground tunnels can sometimes dry out the soil too much, which can be bad for the grass above.

However, there are actually some advantages to having certain types of ant in your yard. Many species of ant eat other pests, such as ticks, termites, fleas and grubs. In many cases, underground ant nests aerate and loosen the soil in a way that gives plants' roots better access to water and nutrients.

Ants can even fertilize your soil, as they tend to leave food scraps in their nests. These tiny particles of plant and animal matter decompose and add nutrients to the soil. Finally, ants benefit the ecosystem by spreading seeds, allowing native plants to grow naturally.

So, before you take measures to get rid of ants, you might want to consider identifying which ant species you have in your yard. If they are not bothering you, you can simply try some natural methods for keeping them away from your house, porch or patio.

If, however, the ants are a problem, you'll want to try one of the following effective methods for getting rid of them.

Natural Ways to Exterminate Ants

Boiling Water

One simple method for killing ants is to pour boiling water into the nest. It's key to make sure the water is boiling, as cooler water may not kill the ants. Boil a kettle or pot of water, bring it to the ant mound, and scrape off any loose soil. Then carefully pour the water down into the hole. Try to get as much water as you can to flow into the hole, rather than soaking the ground around it.

The boiling water method is a good way to get rid of an entire colony of ants in one fell swoop. However, if the water cools off too much before it reaches the queen, it may not be effective. It's important to take care with boiling water at it can cause nasty burns if it comes into contact with your skin. Boiling water can also harm the grass or create a soggy spot on the lawn.

Soapy Water

Soapy water in cupped hands under a faucet

Adding ordinary dish soap to water creates a compound that is lethal to ants. Add a tablespoon of dish soap to a quart of water. You can put this solution in a spray bottle and use it as an ant spray, or pour it into the nest. Adding oil such as canola or vegetable oil increases the effectiveness of this home made pesticide.

Be aware that soap can cause damage to some types of plants, so be careful about where you apply this mixture.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth, sometimes known as DE, is a powder made of tiny fossils. It's harmless to humans, but will injure and eventually kill ants if they ingest it. You can use DE as it is or mix it with sugar to create a more enticing ant bait. Sprinkle the powder anywhere you've seen ants; you can also place it around your porch, patio or home to kill any insects that try to come in.

Although it's not toxic to us, DE is a fine powder and can therefore be an irritant if inhaled. You should therefore use a dust mask and goggles when handling it. DE also becomes ineffective when it gets wet, so you'll need to reapply frequently until the ants are gone.

Boric Acid

Some homeowners have found boric acid, a component of borax, to be effective in getting rid of ants. Borax can be mixed with a sweetening agent such as honey or sugar to make it attractive to ants. They will then not only eat the bait but also transport it back to the colony, where it will be eaten by other ants.

If used properly and with care, borax may be a suitable way to exterminate ants on your property. However, please keep this household chemical away from children and pets as it may cause them harm. Bulwark Exterminating has more information on how to use boric acid effectively to get rid of ants.

Keeping Your Space Ant-Free

Once the ants are gone, it's important to remove whatever may have attracted them in the first place so these tiny pests don't keep coming back. Here are some tips for keeping ants away from your yard.

Maintenance

lush green lawn with thick grass

Ants are much more likely to want to live in a bare, patchy lawn than in a thick, healthy one. Regular lawn maintenance is therefore a key factor in keeping ant species away. Make sure to water your lawn frequently and regularly mow to a suitable height. Of course, you can always get in touch with the professionals at LawnMore Gainesville to get some help with this!

It's also a good idea to keep any trash or compost bins away from your lawn as these are a food source for ants. Similarly any food spills, even outdoors, should be cleaned up straight away. Ants are also attracted by organic matter, so you should remove dead branches and other debris from your yard as soon as you are able to. Even mulch can attract ants, so if they are becoming a problem on your property you might want to consider alternatives.

Natural Ant Repellents

There are also several household substances that are thought to help repel ants from your property without the need for harsh chemicals. Ants navigate using their sense of smell. They leave pheromone trails for other ants to follow as foraging routes. Many natural deterrents work by masking the smell of the ant trails to confuse the ants.

Pepper, chilli powder, cinnamon, peppermint oil and citrus peels are just some of the strong-smelling ingredients you may already have in your kitchen that are said to repel ants. Certain plants have a similar effect. Bob Villa recommends sage, catnip and chrysanthemums, among others. Vinegar mixed with water and used as a spray is another natural repellent as ants do not like the smell.

 

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