ants in my house and my houseplants : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have had trouble with ants for a few years now. They start coming in the house when it gets a little bit warm. They build nests in places like the lid to my toilet tank, I kill them there and stop up the holes then they take up in the linner of my bathtub wall, behind the kitchen cabinets and in my house plants. I just found that they are infested in one of my two house plants. They kill the plants. I have tried foggers, sprays, traps, and terro. They eat up the terro poison and disappear for a while, then reappear somewhere else. Every time I get a houseplant they kill it. Is there some type of dirt that is ant resistant for houseplants? I heard that they don't like chalk, maybe chalk in the bottom of the plants pot would keep them out, I just don't know, and I am tired of the ants. They have infested my trees in my yard and killed them too. HELP!

-- Vanessa H (, April 14, 2002


Vanessa, there are a zillion(well, maybe not that many. LOL) species of ants. So knowing where you are and a description of the species would maybe help. I would suggest a call to your County Extension Agent, I couldn't believe how many things they helped me with, they are a great resource. Also, call a couple of local nurseries. I bet they might have your problem as they would be in the same area. Sounds like a miserable problem! And they are killing your trees? Think they are an introduced species? Good luck and I hope you post what is happening with this. I for one would sure like to know how you do. LQ

-- Little Quacker (, April 14, 2002.

Have you tried treating the exterior of your house (prevent them from getting in). Back at the old place, we use to lay down a wide strip of diatomaceaous (sp?) eath arounfd the entire house. They had to cross it to try to get in. Have to reapply after rain, but worked well. good luck! In this place, we have an invasion of ladybugs....anyone sympathetic towards them can send me their address and I will gladly send them to you!! :)

-- Sue (, April 15, 2002.

I use Boric Acid which you can by in powdered form in any drug store. Just sprinkle it around where the ants like to go (usually window sills and baseboards) and leave it for a few days. Ants hate the stuff and it kills them if they ingest it. I know it's looks messy for a few days, but it does get rid of them. Also, if you put a little vaseline around the rim of the flower pots or perhaps on the rim of the tray the pot sits on, the ants will not cross that vaseline. I have used that method successfully on my hummingbird feeders. I put a little vaseline on the string which hangs from the hook and the ants leave the sugar water alone.

-- Mary in East TN (, April 16, 2002.

I don't know what kind of ant they are, they just look tiny and brown. You can't walk a foot in our yard without seeing an anthole. I sprayed yesterday all around the house, but I need something that I can put all over the yard that might kill them where they live. They have killed 2 of my trees and the other is infested. My mother's yard and my grandparents is the same way. We live in east Tenn. We don't live in town so we don't get the benifits of sprayings like they have in town. We have mosquitoes and wasps really bad too. The trees in my yard they killed are poplar trees. I wonder if there is a type of tree that would be ant resistant to plant in place of the dead trees.

-- Vanessa H (, April 16, 2002.

FIRST OF ALL -- PLEASE DO NOT WAGE AN ALL OUT WAR ON YOUR ANTS. Ants are essential for ground aeration and movement of nutrients in the earth. Also, odds are the ants had little to do with the loss of your Poplars. There is a fungal disease that is affecting poplars, dogwoods, and ash trees all overt the eastern US, but is currently worse south of the Mason-Dixon line. I'm in CT, but have enjoyed Knoxville's dogwood fest for many years, and have sadly seen the demise of many of the route's most beautiful trees. That said, here are some suggestions for controlling.

1. AVOID BORIC ACID -- It is also poisonous to pets, birds, and beneficial and beautiful insects (such a butterflies!)

2. DON'T STEP ON OR SQUASH ANTS IN YOUR HOUSE -- Their buddies will come in twos and fours to cart off the carcasses of their dead bretheren (unless the ants are on the march, then they stop for nothing).

3. ANT CUPS -- Very effective, but QUICKLY DUNK THEM IN WARM WATER before setting out -- they don't tell you that in the directions, but it works like a charm. You'll see swarms of ants, then not a whole lot.

4. BLUE OR GREEN LISTERINE (or generic equivalent). Ants hate the stuff, won't cross it, won't go near it, and enuf kills em. Just pour it (or put in a spritzer) between cracks, etc. This works great in controlling those itty bitty grease ants.

5. KEEP 'EM BUSY -- Periodically dig up their nests and pour boiling hot water (or oil!) down their ant hills. That will keep them busy renovating and redecorating.

6. Petrolium Jelly as a barrier on table legs, just under your door stoop, around windows, etc.

7. If your ant problem seems really out of proportion, you just might want to call in some local authorities just to make sure you don't have some strain of ant, generally uncommon to your area, that has settled in and needs serious, professional attention. Two years ago some kind of nasty fire ant indigenous to Central America took over a town in New Jersey. They had come in on some banana boat and found themselves a hospitable environment.

7. Your houseplant -- you didn't say what type, but you may need to rethink what kind of houseplants you keep. Ants do naturally like rubber plants, will milk their roots, and set up housekeeping. If you have a natural ant problem, then avoid rubber plants, or anything that exudes a sweet or sticky nectar. If your houseplant is infested, there is little you can do exept take it out of doors, remove it from dirt and totally wash off the root system, repot it, and hope it survives. If you leave a two single ant eggs, that is enough to start a colony. One of the eggs will evolve into a queen and the other into a mate.

8. Stand over them, wearing an apron, with a frying pan in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other. Threaten the little beggars that if they don't shove off you'll turn them all into ant fritters. This will do absolutely nothing for your ant problem, however it will make feel a lot better.

Good luck!

-- Sooz (, April 28, 2002.

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