Ants, Peonies and Best Gardening Practises For Homes

(Question)

Peonies And Ants
The peonies in a bush about 4 feet by 3 feet, are dwindling in the garden, after last weeks Toronto rainstorm, and small ants seem to have made their way into our 1st floor kitchen, around the sink. These are small ants about ¼ inch in size, and light coloured.

July 2013’s flooding and the cold winter showed me the weaknesses in the house’s foundation, and I suppose the ants are just following the plentiful trails into the home.

I’ve begun using a “Raid” product with Borax around the perimeter of the outside of the home between the peony patch and the possible entry points to the home. I suppose I’ll have to do more exploring, and much more cleaning.

I have limestone dolomite bag, but I don’t know if placing that in the peony area would make it uncomfortable for an insect which is so small, and which isn’t visible in the garden, any longer.

I was about to start to amend the soil with some potting mix, and add some mulch. A soaker hose, and repair to a sprinkler hose will minimize excess moisture, if that interests ants. There are only 5 peony buds left, 2 of which seem unhealthy and brown, although the posted one looks healthy as the other are, but they’re not covered in ants as in previous years.

Is there any gardening best practise to keep the ants in the garden, working with our small ecosystems, rather than reminding me that I’m I’m not the world’s best housekeeper?

As I remember past years, ants have made it to the second floor of the house, around the outside of the bathroom, on the boards of the sem-attached part of the house, where I previously applied the liquid product with borax with success in the past.

(Answer)

To answer what I think is your question, there is no way to attract ants back into your garden and away from indoors. The University of Guelph has this useful fact sheet on common ants, their habits and the best ways to control them, including, as you’ve suggested “good housekeeping.”

For control outdoors, the Ontario Ministry of Environment has approved the use of borax as well as diatomaceous earth for the control of insects, so those are methods to try.

However, you are also right in identifying the real challenge as being the many access points for the ants to enter your home. The BC Ministry has produced a good guide for dealing with carpenter ants, which are not the kind you have, but the concepts are similar so you may find it useful. Click here.

Good luck with those pesky critters!