Several tried and tested ways exist to get rid of an ant nest on your lawn. From bin-liners to baking powder cocktail traps, all is not lost if an ant colony has set up home on your lawn.
A lot of the time ants are helpful creatures in the garden, collecting dead insects, and bringing them underground, speeding up the composting process. Ants also break up compacted soils where roots may struggle to find purchase.
But when the sun comes out we sometimes find that an ant colony has decided that it too, would like to spend time on our lawn. Some bite, some don’t, but most annoy.
Nine Ways to Get Rid of an Ant Nest on Your Lawn
Here’s how to get rid of an ant nest on your lawn so you can enjoy the sunshine without fear of getting bitten.
The Bin-Liner Method
Ants might like the sunshine, but they don’t like it too hot. Temperatures might push the mercury up to 30°C in a heatwave, however, that’s still not hot enough to worry an ant.
To push the soil temperature up to an intolerable level, take a bin liner and lay it over the top of the ant’s nest. Weigh it down with a brick or two. Within a short time, the temperature below the black plastic will rise.
At more than 46°C no ant will survive, and the colony will fail. Leave the liner there for a day or two at the beginning of summer, then lift it and rake the dirt mound of the nest flat.
The Bucket Method
This method works best at the beginning of the summer season, or late spring when the sun hasn’t reached its peak.
Ants like dry soil that is easy to tunnel through and build egg chambers in. If you don’t fancy killing your little garden friends, you might like to try transplanting them elsewhere.
Get a bucket, or a five-litre flowerpot and fill it with dirt. Place it upside-down on top of the ant nest and water the ground around it. The ants should migrate up into the bucket, or pot. After a week, you should be able to remove the nest to another location.
The Spade Method
By far the fastest way to relocate a small ant nest is to dig it up. Take your garden spade and chop out a square of earth around the mound raised by the nest.
Drop it into a wheelbarrow or bucket and take it over to your compost heap. Ants will do a lot of good on a compost heap, taking the rubbish, sorting it out, and taking it below ground to decompose.
Replace the earth removed with some clean soil. Compact it well to deter further ant colonization and sew a little lawn repair grass seed to cover the patch.
The Soapy Water Method
Ants find soap unpleasant. It washes away the pheromone trails that they use to find their way about, the insect superhighway.
Soap solutions stick to ants causing them to suffocate. Use a dibber to open up the centre of the ant hill and pour a warm soapy solution directly into the heart of the colony.
The water will drive out the ants and send survivors looking for a new home. Use a hose to ensure the earth in and around the nest is completely soaked to ensure they do not return.
The Boiling Water Method
You can up the ante by bringing a kettle to an ant fight. Boiling water will kill ants immediately and will destroy a nest, but it will also kill off the lawn grass that it comes into contact with.
It is a quick way to get rid of an ant nest on your lawn, but it is very destructive. Be prepared to tolerate a brown patch for some time until the lawn recovers.
Boiling water is also going to be harmful to humans, so beware of hot water splashing back up. Wear long trousers and pour slowly to minimise any risk of scalding to yourself or others.
The Vinegar Method
This is a terrific, and very smelly method of ant eradication. Cider vinegar is the medium of choice due to its acidity levels, but regular chip-shop vinegar will do just as well.
Mix up a solution that is half water and half vinegar in a bottle or a watering can and liberally apply it to the ant nest. At that level, the vinegar will kill many of the ants and disrupt the pheromone trails so that others will get lost.
If the ant nest is close to plants that may be sensitive to vinegar, a dilution of 10%, or nine parts water to one of vinegar, will be enough to disrupt the ants without killing off your plants.
The Nematode Method
Introducing a predator such as a nematode is sold as an eco-friendly, safe way to get rid of an ant nest on your lawn. The nematodes will feast on the ants without disrupting any of the other systems in your garden.
They are safe to use in gardens shared with children and animals. The best time to bring nematodes such as Steinernema Feltiae into your garden is late spring before the sun dries out the lawn too much.
Nematodes thrive in slightly damp conditions in soil temperatures over 5°C. Once introduced the ants will respond to the threat by relocating to a safer area in the garden.
Get Rid of an Ant Nest on Your Lawn (Chef’s Choice!)
The Baking Powder Sugar Trap Method
This is not a quick solution to your ant problem, but it is very effective against black garden ants as they are known for their sweet tooth.
Mix three spoons of sugar with one of baking powder (sodium bicarbonate) in hot water. Add breadcrumbs and stir. The adult ant will eat the liquid and carry the poisoned breadcrumbs back to the nest to feed to the larvae.
Put the mixture in a glass jar near the ant nest. Punch small holes in the lid big enough for the ants to get in and out, but too small for bees and other insects.
The Baking Powder Protein and Fat Trap Methods
Different ant species have different tastes when it comes to dining out. Black ants like their desserts, but Wood ants prefer something meatier like egg whites, or perhaps peanut butter.
While wood ants are less likely to bite, they can be a pest in the home, and their ant nests can become quite extensive.
The recipe and method is much the same as a sugar trap, and just as effective. With a trap method all you have to do is wait, then after a week, rake the nest flat, redistributing the earth.
Other Ways to Get Rid of an Ant Nest on Your Lawn
There are several chemical ant-killing pesticides on the market, however, many of these are fairly indiscriminate regarding which insect species they kill. As your garden will benefit more from hosting a strong biodiverse ecosystem, these should ultimately be a last resort.
Birds benefit from an ant colony as a food source. Encourage native birds to visit by putting a bird feeder on the lawn, close to an ant nest. You can be sure that hungry thrushes, tits and robins will soon take advantage!
Top Tip: You Don’t Have to Get Rid of an Ant Nest on Your Lawn
Keep your lawn cut short in the summer. Ants do like their privacy so exposing their nest to the sun, and to predators will soon have them thinking of moving on. A healthy, short lawn will also deter ants from setting up home in the first place!