How to stop ants from eating plants

Written by gail delaney
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How to stop ants from eating plants
Ants are reasonably nice until they eat on your plants. (ants & ahises image by Marek Kosmal from

When ants eat on plants, it is an annoying problem. It can also be a sign that your plants have aphids on them. Ants herd aphids because of the honeydew that the aphids produce. Some ants like to eat the sweet things growing in your garden. There is nothing worse than picking a strawberry only to discover that the ants are eating on the other side. You can stop the ants from eating on your plants in the first place by removing them from the plants and keeping them away.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Boric acid
  • Paper
  • Straw
  • Catnip, pennyroyal, peppermint, sage, spearmint or tansy
  • Diatomaceous earth, instant grits or bonemeal
  • Cucumbers
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Double stick masking tape or material
  • Chalk or cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon, baby powder or curry powder
  • Yeast
  • Molasses
  • Garden hose
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Mix together three parts peanut butter and two parts jelly. To this add 1 tbsp of boric acid for every 170gr of peanut butter and jelly mixture. Put this mixture on pieces of paper and stuff them into a straw. Put the straw where you find the ants foraging. Boric acid is an inorganic powder that is chemically derived from water and boron.

  2. 2

    Plant some repellent plants in the area where you don't want the ants, or around your garden to keep ants away. Some repellent plants include catnip, pennyroyal, peppermint, sage, spearmint and tansy.

  3. 3

    Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth, instant grits or bonemeal around the plants. Diatomaceous earth is finely ground fossils of prehistoric fresh water diatoms. It is sharp and will cut through the skeletons of ants, killing them.

  4. 4

    Place cucumber peelings around the plant where the ants are eating. Cucumbers have trans-2-nonenal and this compound repels ants.

  5. 5

    Smear petroleum jelly around the stems of the plants. If they are bothering a large plant, put some double-sided masking tape around the stem or trunk of the plant. Ants will become stuck on the sticky tape. You can also use a thin piece of material and tie this around the plant's stem or trunk. Smear a layer of petroleum jelly over the outside of the material. The ants will become stuck on the petroleum jelly.

  6. 6

    Draw a chalk line around the plant, or crush up some chalk and sprinkle a line around the plant. Ants will not cross over a chalk line. Instead of chalk, you can use cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon, baby powder or curry powder.

  7. 7

    Mix up equal portions of yeast and molasses. Put this in a small container and place it beside the plant. The ants will carry the yeast back to their home, but they cannot digest it.

  8. 8

    Spray the ants off the plant with the garden hose. Spray the plant twice a day every other day. This sends the ants and aphids on their way.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not use boric acid where children or animals can find it and eat it. It is poisonous.
  • Do not plant tansy around livestock. Do not plant it where it can germinate in fields where livestock eat.

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