Over 9,600 ant species have been scientifically described worldwide and many are still undiscovered. They colonize almost all terrestrial ecosystems of our earth and are decisively involved in many processes there. In house and garden they are rather annoying. But often remedy is possible with very simple means. Here you will find tips and suggestions on how to keep ants at bay in your house and garden.
Ants in the wild
Ants are insects and belong like the bees and wasps to the skin-wingers. They live in large states where a strict division of labor prevails. The queens – a state can have several – are responsible for the production of offspring throughout their lives. The workers build the nest, care for the brood and the queen, look for food and defend the colony. Males are produced in the summer months for one purpose only: they are to mate potential queens. After the wedding flight the males die.
Most ants build their nests in the ground or on the ground surface. This means that all changes in nature, which also influence the climatic conditions near the ground, contribute to the endangerment of our native ants, for example reforestation, abandonment of grazing and intensification of use.
In Bavaria, 87 ant species are known to occur in the wild. Of these, 59 species are already included in the “Red List of Endangered Ants of Bavaria”. Among them are the red forest ant and the great meadow ant, which, along with eleven other ant species, have been included in the Federal Species Protection Ordinance and are among the specially protected species. Ants perform important functions in the balance of nature. They are the natural “cleaning crew” and quickly remove carrion and dead insects.
When building their nest, they introduce large amounts of biomass into the soil. Taken together, they convert more soil material than earthworms. As predators, they keep the populations of numerous spider and insect species small, which are sometimes a nuisance to us humans. As shepherds, they nurture and protect aphids and bark lice. Their sweet excretion – honeydew – is very popular with ants and is used by bees to produce forest honey.
And finally, as collectors, they ensure the spread of many wild plants such as white deadnettle and celandine. Their seeds carry a fat-rich appendage, the elaiosome, which attracts ants. Together with the elaiosome, the seed is carried into the nest. The elaiosome is intended exclusively for consumption. After it has been eaten, the seed either remains in the nest or is deposited outside the nest by the ants. This provides these plants with protected germination and growth conditions.
ants in the garden
In the garden, one often recognizes ant nests by the small sand piles on paths, places, lawns and beds. In order to be able to use your own garden undisturbed, the ants usually do not have to be killed. With simple means one can prevent, avert ants or resettle them.
If you don’t want to constantly remove the small piles of sand from paths and seats, don’t use sand under stone slabs, but grit. Ants do not build nests in chippings. It is also advisable to remove lice from heavily infested plants. Their sweet honeydew attracts ants.
Ants orient themselves by scents. That is why they are averted by scents that are regularly emitted along the ant trails. Most species of ants avoid the scent of laurel, lavender, eucalyptus and cedar. For some species lavender, eucalyptus or green tomato oil is even poisonous. You can also try fern, juniper leaves, centaury, chervil, dried tomato plants, marjoram, cloves, cinnamon, vinegar,
Lay out lemon juice or lemon peel. If ants are regularly disturbed, for example by levelling the hill or watering the colony, they neglect their brood.
If ants have built their nest in an unfavorable place, the whole colony can be relocated gently. To do this, fill a flower pot with damp straw or damp wood wool and place it upside down over the ant colony. After a few days the colony moves with brood and queen into the pot. Now the colony in the pot can be moved to another place.
Ants in the house
Prevention is the most effective, chemical-free measure against immigration into the home:
- Do not offer any food sources: for example, do not leave food leftovers, food, filled animal food bowls, waste containers open.
- Avoid introduction, for example by food or clothes after journeys into southern countries, in addition, by flower pots, which are brought in the house in the autumn.
- React quickly: Sweep up individual ants immediately and transport them outside. During a “wedding flight”, all animals should be taken outside again. Since the animals move towards the light, it often helps to open the windows. If necessary they can also be driven away with the fan.
Remedy against ant streets and ant nests can be done with simple means, such as
- Seal entry points, fill holes and cracks, for example with plaster, silicone.
- Interrupt or divert ant trails. Try: double-sided adhesive tape, scents (see above), lime, crushed eggshells, diatomaceous earth, silica gel, baking powder. Renew regularly! Also apply in cracks or wall gaps before closing them.
- Water nests with plenty of boiling water, so that the queen is also killed.
- Bait traps are cheaper than insect sprays, some of which can be harmful to health.
- If wooden parts are infested, a hot air treatment by specialized companies can help. When cleaning the apartment, chemical pest control should be avoided if possible. Possible measures are:
- Sweep up individual ants and transport them outside. React quickly and eliminate the cause immediately!
- Sweep up ant tracks. Then clean the vacuum cleaner thoroughly and change the bag.
- Attract remaining ants with a sponge soaked in sugar water. A plate of strongly sugared, stale beer will attract the ants, which will then drown. You can also use honey water, raspberry water, diluted liqueur and syrup.
- Check flower pots for nests.