Ant Colony in Cactus Pot

Discussion in 'Garden Pest Management and Identification' started by sevarg, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. sevarg

    sevarg Member

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    This is not an everyday question and I am not sure if I am posting it in the right section. I am looking for some advise.

    Here is my story. Every year I put most of cacti outside for the summer. This year is no different than any other. This year I wasn't thinking and place my 10 year old directly on the ground. A couple of days ago I noticed that the soil at the top of the pot had been dug up. Upon further investigation, I lifted the pot to discover that an ant colony had formed under the pot and spread up into the pot through the drainage hole in the pot. There were hundreds of ants and what looked like eggs. I have moved the pot off the ground but I still have ants living in the pot.

    What I need help with is how do I get rid of the ants without harming my cacti. The ants are really small, not sure what kind. I need to get rid of them before I bring my cacti inside for the winter. Any advise would be great. Thanks in advance.

    Jeremy
     

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  2. sevarg

    sevarg Member

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    Oh, by the way, I live in Ontario and there is a complete pesticide ban. I spoke with a nursery that specializes in cacti and they recommended something off the shelf. I purchased a powder that claims to kill ants and not kill plants. I put the powder in ant hole openings and a thick layer on the top of the soil. They dug through the powder and are walking on the "Ant Killer" with no death. So unless someone has another idea I am going to have to drive to US and smuggle some pesticides back into the Ontario.
     
  3. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Was the stuff recommended by the cacti specialist diatomaceous earth?
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Submerge the pot in a bucket of water for half an hour or an hour. That is long enough to drown the ants, but not long enough to harm the cactus. After removing from the bucket, allow the soil to dry out fully before watering again.
     
  5. tugo

    tugo Active Member

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    Unfortunately, I tried submerging the pot in water, last year. After about an hour, when I went to see the situation, I have seen that the ants made some kind of islands on the surface of the water, based on the dead bodies of their friends and the ones on them were trying to stay alive. Had known that they can make bridges to cross over narrow water lines, in the same way, this was new and sad for me.
    Yes I agree killing them is, this way or another the same thing but seeing them trying to survive, with the help of their (may be) "going to death voluntarily" friends, disturbed me for a long time. I also tried several ways but could not succeed to get rid of them.
    Here is my sedum, after their housing.
    karıncalar.JPG
     
  6. sevarg

    sevarg Member

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    Wow, thanks everyone for the replys.

    Poetry to Burn - The cactus guy did not recommend a specific product. He just said you can try just about anything off the self and it will probably have the same effect; not much of one.

    Michael F - Thank you this is a really good idea. I am going to give the entire pot a bath tomorrow if some are still present.

    Tugo - I am sorry about your Sedum. I don't think watching the ants die will disturb me as much as watching my 10 year old cactus die.

    You guys are the best. Thanks for your help. I will keep you updated.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2011
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Make the water too deep for them to do this!
     
  8. Kada

    Kada Active Member 10 Years

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    i agree, water is the best way to kill them. i put them in a bucket and put the bucket in the bathtub and fill both....i leave it in there for a few hours usually though. so long as your weather is warm and you have decent cacti soil, the many hours in water wont do anything to the cactus.


    one thing with some ants in the soil though is they make their nests and bring a lot of organic mess in which will make your mix hold more water for longer usually....so i usually repot and replace the soil of ant infested pots.

    one thing with natural things like cloves, capsicum peppers and even tobacco is they rarely kill anything, it just makes them relocate if anything. the water will kill em all, can stick your fingers in the soil to make sure there are no air pockets for the things to hide in. if you see living islands, thats easy enough to scoop em into the toilet :)
     

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