Ants in your lawn can be a nuisance.
They can cause significant cosmetic damage to your lawn as they create mounds of excavated soil on the surface of your lawn (known as ant hills).
But ants can create other problems too, not only in your lawn but in other areas of your garden.
So in this article, I’m going to explain everything you need to know about ants.
How Ants Live and the Affect They Have on Your Garden
Ants are social insects that form large, organised colonies. They build complex nests that often contain thousands of individuals.
Ant nests contain one or sometimes several fertile females called Queen Ants. They lay eggs in specific areas of the nest called Brood Chambers.
Most of the other ants in the colony are smaller females called Worker Ants whose job it is to protect, maintain and grow the nest.
There are other ants called Soldiers and Drones whose job it is to find and bring back food.
Ant nests are very complex structures. They contain nursery rooms where larvae are fed and looked after, food storages rooms and farming rooms. They even create tunnels just to help with airflow.
How Ants Affect Your Lawn
Many ants build their nests in or under lawns. They prefer well-drained soil in lawns that don’t suffer from compaction. This means even the best cared for lawns can fall victim to ant infestations.
They’re not all bad though. They hunt other insects in your lawn and their nests can help with lawn aeration.
However, as they excavate the soil they leave it on the surface of your lawn. These ant hills can affect your lawn in a few ways;
- They can make your lawn uneven
- Make mowing the grass difficult as the lawn mower blades get stuck on lumps of soil
- Kill the grass under the mounds of earth, especially if the grass is short
They also eat through the root zone of the grass as they build their colonies. This can result in patches of dead grass appearing.
They Also Indirectly Affect Your Garden as a Whole
Ants like to feed off Honeydew which is secreted by Aphids (sap-sucking insects) as they feed on plant sap.
To keep a constant supply of Honeydew, ants protect aphids from predators like Ladybirds and tend to their ongoing needs. This protection often causes an increase in aphid activity all over your garden. This, in turn, leads to plants being damaged as they’re used as a source of food.
Home Made Ant Killers Vs. Professional Products
If you want to completely get rid of the ants in your lawn you need to target the source. In other words, the nest.
There are a few ways to kill ants nests which include home remedies and specific ant killers. Home remedies have their drawbacks and I’d recommend you use a proper ant killer but in the interest of being thorough, I’ll cover both.
Home Made Ant Killers
When it comes to killing off a nest, there are numerous home remedies that get recommended on the web. The problem is, they often don’t work immediately, don’t work at all, or have other side effects.
Pour Boiling Water into an Ants Nest
This is the most widely known way to kill a nest. Simply find as many entrances as you can and pour boiling water into them.
The issue is that this;
- Often takes several attempts
- This can result in wet, boggy areas in your lawn, and
- It can scald your grass causing it to turn brown
Use Dishwasher Liquid and Olive Oil
Another common method is to mix washing up liquid with olive oil and water. This penetrates the ants’ exoskeleton and suffocates it.
Again though, it can take a while to work and the detergent can bleach the grass, making it paler than the rest of the lawn.
Put Boric Acid and Sugar on Your Lawn
The idea behind using Boric Acid and sugar is that you mix it into a paste and put it on certain areas o of your lawn near the nest. The sweet sugar attracts the ants and they take it back to the nest for the colony to feed on. Then the Boric Acid kills the ants.
The problem with this approach is that it needs to be mixed very precisely. If you don’t use enough Boric Acid, you won’t kill the ants. Use too much and you’ll kill the ant that takes it before it’s reached the nest. You’ll also kill the grass.
Pour White Vinegar Onto a Nest
Many people recommend pouring a litre of white vinegar onto an ants nest.
It kills ants on contact but the chances of it penetrating and killing the whole nest are slim. You’ll only kill the ants on the surface and may the ones just under.
Use Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth has been proven to be effective against a variety of bugs. The idea is that you sprinkle this powder on your lawn and it’ll cause decreased mobility in the ants and eventually they’ll die of dehydration.
There are a few flaws with this though;
The word ‘eventually’ means it’s not a quick remedy
It’ll only kill the ants that come into contact with it, not the whole nest
A rain shower will wash the powder away
As you can see, using home remedies are inconsistent, they can damage your lawn and sometimes, they just useless.
That’s why I recommend you use a professional ant killer.
Professional Ant Killing Products
For the most reliable, quickest results, choose a product that is specifically designed for killing ants.
I recommend Nippon Ant Killer from Vitax. They have a range of products, but the two I recommend are;
Ant Killer Sachets
Nippon Ant Killer Sachets are highly effective if you have a lawn with several nests. Dilute a sachet into 5 litres of water and spray over the lawn with a knapsack sprayer or watering can. It penetrates the nest and kills the ants quickly. Depending on the size of the nest, you may need a second application.
Ant Bait Stations
If you don’t like the idea of spraying your lawn or putting powder down, Nippon's bait stations are an excellent alternative and can be used outdoors, unlike some others.
Lay a bait station near the nest and the ants will feed on the liquid inside and take it back to their nest. The active ingredient spreads through the nest and kills the whole colony at the same time.
I personally always have one or two bait stations in and around my lawn (as well as several more all around the garden) to kill off any ants before the colony can get established. Then, if on the rare occasion a colony establishes itself, I’ll dilute a sachet in water and kill the lot.
How to Kill Ants, Remove Ant Hills From the Lawn & Prevent them Returning
This is the step-by-step process I use to kills the ants in my lawn, remove the ant hills and prevent them from returning.
Step 1: Kill the Ants With Nippon Soluble Sachets
The first step is to kill the ants.
Get some soluble ant killer sachets and mix each sachet with 5 litres of water. This is enough to cover 25 square metres. So if your lawn is 100sqm you’ll need 4 sachets mixed with 20 litres of water.
Wait for a dry spell and apply it to your lawn with either a watering can or knapsack sprayer. If the weather stays dry it should kill the ants within a few days.
Step 2: Remove the Ant Hills
As we know the ant hills are nothing more than excavated soil that has been left on the surface of your lawn.
If it’s dry you can disperse them with a brush which is easy to do as the soil is so fine. I personally hoover the soil up with a beat-up old vacuum. I’ll admit, people do look at me strangely when they see me hoovering the lawn but it works a treat!
Wet soil is harder to shift, you can’t spread it because it smears and could trap the grass under it. Scooping it up with a spade could also ruin the grass. I prefer to get stuck in and pick it up with my hands.
Step 3: Prevent the Ants Re-Establishing their Nests With Bait Stations
It’s pretty much impossible to completely remove ants from your garden so it’s not worth trying.
But you can prevent them from colonising with the use of bait stations. They attract feeding ants who take this poisonous food back to their nests, killing the nest while it’s small enough to not be a problem.
Leave these bait stations in the areas where you had nests.
It’s also worth buying a few of them to put around your whole garden so they don’t go and colonise another area.
Despite having shown you how to kill ants, they can be a pain and unfortunately, you’ll never completely rid your garden of them.
That said, with the right approach, controlling their numbers is very doable and you’ll see a big reduction in their numbers.
But be prepared for an ongoing battle!
If you’ve got ants in your lawn let me know in the comments. Have you got any secret hacks to get rid of them? Let me know.
And as ever, if you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them.