How to get rid of ants in the yard? Formicidae is the most common insect having unique capabilities. There are many species (more than 10,000) of ants in the world and are not considered dangerous pests. But the ants can cause health as well as cosmetic damages to grass in your lawn or yard. So killing or controlling ants is significant. They are social insects and settle in a large number causing damages to roots and mounds. They also cause hazards to visitors. They are one houseguest without which we can live. Ants can also get into your stuff and cause chaos. Outdoor ants in gardens or yards turn a beautiful family lawn into a painful experience. This happens when you accidentally disturb their nest while walking or doing something else. Ants have a serious staying power that survived a mass extinction event. But we can get rid of them in many ways.
Common name: Ants
Type and diet: Invertebrates and omnivores
Scientific name: Formicidae
Genus: Sphinctomyrmex Mayr
Life Span: Weeks to several years
Blessing and a Curse:
They are a curse as well as a blessing in many ways. In most cases, they can act as natural pest control and increase the soil’s tillage. They can act as an aerator to loosen the dirt surrounding the roots and enhancing the growth. They help in pollination and seed dispersal. They also facilitate the distribution of nutrients on the surface of the soil. They act as scavengers as well as decomposers. But when these ants start to form mounds here and there searching for food, they begin to become pests. Ants eat pests and can harm your lawn.
Identifying a Specie:
Any ant can cause a problem, but there are three types of ants that you must look for in your yard. Identify the species because many of them play a vital role in the ecosystem doing their best jobs. Ant pheromones attract the aphids to your yard. They begin to feed on plants which destroy vegetation.
- Crazy ants:
Scientific name: Anoplolepis gracilipes
They can make super-colonies that have more than one queen. Such ants nest under trees, within the lumber, and beneath landscape mulch.
- Pavement ants:
Scientific name: Tetramorium caespitum
They are smaller in size, dark brown to black, and very protective of their territory. They are 3 mm long. Brutal fights happen with these pavement ants when any colony decides to raid another colony. Pavement ants usually nest in sidewalks and patios.
- Fire Ants:
Scientific name: Solenopsis invicta
Common name: Red imported fire ant
They are well known for their stinging and biting. They cause very painful bumps as well as allergic reactions. If you spot ant mounds in your lawn or yard, they can be fire ants, and you should get rid of them. Drenching the mounds using boiled water can reduce their activity. You can also hit a fire ant mound with a pesticide.
Scientific Name: Camponotus
Giant black-colored ants are known as carpenter ants, attack softwoods that are usually rotten or damp. As they live in woods, so they cause a lot of damage to buildings and furniture. You can locate their nests at the base of the tree, in a deck or a woodpile as sawdust. These ants are very active during the night, so you can use a flashlight or a lamp to locate their nest. They invade your homes and destroy them in many ways as termites do. They can be controlled by trimming the branches and limbs of trees that are in touch with your house. You must spot and remove their nests from damp and woody places.
Ants vs. Termites:
Some people confuse is that people mistake flying ants for termites. But the main difference lies in their wings. The wings of termites are equal in size, but ant’s wings are unequal i-e; one pair is larger than the other pair.
Social Behavior of Ants:
They live in well-structured nest colonies. These colonies or communities can be located in-ground level mounds, trees, woods, and underground. When you want to get rid of ants, either indoor or outdoor, you must understand their mode of living. They make nests for living, and it is imperative to eliminate them. Lawn dwelling ants always prefer soil that is dry and well-drained. These ants also sting, but most of their species also have a habit of damaging the grassroots. Damaging the roots will cause large dead patches everywhere in the lawn, decreasing the beauty of your yard.
Each nest of ants contains thousands of members. Their members increase rapidly, making the small problem a nightmare. It is straightforward to point out an anthill in the lawn or yard. A small part of the anthill is the tip of their colonial iceberg. Their colonies can extend up to 4’ beneath and another 4’ just around it. But if you are looking for an ants’ nest indoor, it is not easy to locate it. They hide and survive beneath the floors, inside the walls and cabinets. The colony of ants has a queen and worker ants. The whole colony survives as long as the queen stays. So, if you want to repel or eliminate the ants, you will need to kill the queen. But if your method to get rid of them fails and the queen survived, then the ants will migrate somewhere else, causing the problem again. The most effective control can be made by using ant baits. And the bait is a mixture of slow-acting pesticides, which can be naturally or synthetically obtained, and sweet/salty food of ants. The food camouflages the pesticides. The ants consume the food along with the pesticide. Some of the ants eat it and carry it to their nests, feeding their babies along with the queen. You will see that a lot of ants are gathering around the ant bait. Avoid using an ant repellant spray at that time. Because you want them to carry the food to their nest to vanish ants completely,
Anthills are not the only issue you face, but some of their species also ranch and will ‘farm’ aphids as well as mealybugs. They protect aphids and mealybugs and assist their needs to keep a source of honeydew. Aphis and mealybugs secrete honeydew. So, having a nest of such ants in your yard or lawn will cause severe damage to your ornamental plants as well as vegetation.
Ways to control ants
You can locate their nests and deal with them directly in the yard or lawn. So, try some of the mentioned methods to get rid of them completely. Small communities of ants cannot cause damages to your property because they help in the aeration and better growth of plants. Field ants live by building underground mounds to establish their community or colony. They clear the pathways and cause damages to the root system of plants.
Highly infested areas can be treated with insecticides because they help kill the ants right after the application on the mound. If the ants are getting out of control, then you need to seek help from professionals. If you do not handle it to the professionals, then there are chances of destroying your lawn with improper handling of ant killers or repellants.
- By using boiled water:
Open the nest. Put some of the boiled water into the nest. You can also add some of the soap into the boiled water for an extra killing effect. You need to be careful while using the boiled water, as it can kill vegetation.
- By using Boric Acid:
Blend three tablespoons of sugar in two tablespoons of boric acid crystals and two cups of water. Boil the mixture for six minutes. Now cool it and then store it in a jar. You can use a yogurt cup to create an ant bait. Now punch holes in the container so that the ants come in and out quickly. Now put the solution into the container and place it near their nest.
- By using an ant killer or repellant:
Lawn dwelling ants can be a curse and a blessing. You have to consider the severity of the damage before applying any chemicals to kill them.
Open the nest and now apply an ant killer or repellant. It can be in the form of granules, dust, or powder and liquid. Chemicals that are in granular form require activation with water. This is why fine form chemicals are the best choice for irrigation after applying the ant killers. Allow the treated area to dry completely before you allow your pets and children into the yard. Some chemicals kill the ants slowly as they take them into the nest to feed babies and queens. But other chemicals can do their job very quickly. In this case, the queen survives, and the nest disappears for some time and reappears at some other place.
- Applying insecticides:
You can also use insecticides to get rid of ants in your yard. Before applying, you should carefully read and follow the directions. Try to keep it away from children as well as your pets. You can use an insecticide in many ways;
- Spot the ant mound and treat it with an insecticide.
- You can also sprinkle some granular insecticide on the surface of the soil and rake it gently.
- Drench the surface with a diluted solution of chemicals and rake it.
- Rinse immediately after using granules to work the chemical inside the soil.
Just make sure that you are using personal protective equipment, including rubber gloves, shoes, masks, and eyewear.
- By using silicon dioxide:
Silicon dioxide consists of fossilized remains of marine or aquatic organisms, which are known as diatoms. It is not a poison, but it can kill ants. It acts by absorbing the oils in their skeleton. It also irritates, so it avoids breathing in and getting it on your skin.
- Soil drench:
It should be applied two gallons per mount to reach the queen inside the nest. You should apply it in the early afternoon because, at that time, the ants are closest to the surface.
It is also an insect repellant which is very effective. Mix at least ten drops of peppermint essential oil with water and spray this mixture. Keep it out of reach of pets.
- Cinnamon leaf essential oil:
Compounds like trans-cinnamaldehyde have been found very effective in killing ants. This compound is present in cinnamon leaf essential oil. Saturate the cotton balls with cinnamon essential oil and leave them near their mound. You can also sprinkle the powder.
Keeping your yard neat and clean is a plus point to control ants. It would help if you also cut off vines that touch the exterior walls of your house.
- Ant killer gel:
It is a form of ant bait. Ant killer gels lure ants by placing sugar-based droplets in the form of gel near mounds. This is a very harmless method and does not cause any damage to your lawn or yard.
- Biological control
The safest method is the biological control method. It involves watering the parasites like nematodes near the mounds to control their colonies in the yard.
Formicidae is not considered dangerous pests, but they can cause havoc in your lawn if they invade in large number. Different species of ants can form colonies rapidly and cause severe damages. So, to get rid of ants, you should take all the necessary measures. Try to maintain the health of your lawn and keep the trash away. The mounds and anthills cause severe damage and bring strict standards. They are attracted to gardens or lawns because they always search for food like meat, aphids, honeydew, or bugs. At the early stages of manifestation, it is elementary to control them.