Got Ants? - Invisible Gardener Weekly Column

Talks with the Invisible Gardener

Welcome to the first edition of our new weekly gardening column, presented by Andy Lopez, the Invisible Gardener. Andy has been professionally creating harmony with the natural world around him since 1972. For many years, Andy wrote a gardening column for The Malibu Surfside News before its closure. We are so thrilled to have Andy share his expertise, not only in gardening in general, but the specific gardening challenges locals face here in Malibu.

So now, without further ado, the first edition of the All Things Malibu Invisible Gardener column! This week's topic? Ants!

Got Ants?

Are pesky ants invading your home? Don't worry, I got you covered with some ultimate safe organic ant control tips.

First things first, identify where the ants are coming from. Look for entry points like cracks, holes, or gaps in your walls or floors and seal them with a mix of 1 part boric acid (available from drug store. The eyewash kind) and 1 part chalk). This will prevent them from eating through.

Next, keep your kitchen clean and tidy. Ants are attracted to food crumbs and spills, so make sure to wipe down surfaces and sweep floors regularly. Use white vinegar at 1 oz per quart of water or Dr. Bronner soap (any scent) at 1 oz per quart of water. Change the flavor once a month to keep them confused. You can also use Orange Guard. There are many more safe organic liquids and powders you can use. If you are unsure if what you want to buy is safe or not, you can email me here and I will answer in my next column.

I use my worm juice not only to spray my property but also around the house. This will kill and repel them. Eventually, they will move next door!

Seal up any food containers tightly and store them properly. This will help prevent ants from finding their way into your pantry.

Consider using organic ant baits or traps to target and eliminate the ant colony at its source. Place them near ant trails or entry points for the best results. You can use Terro which is made from boric acid and sugar. They sell just the liquid or you can buy in small containers that will hold more and have small openings for them to enter. There are short-term and long-term controls. The above is short-term and does not stop or control them for long as they will continue until you have corrected the main problem.

I tell folks who want me to help them rid of ants two things:

  1. Ants are natural and part of nature. Their job is to recycle
  2. You are not having an ant problem. You are having a soil problem

So here is the long-term control: For long-term ant control, you must realize that you are having a soil biology problem.
It is the soil biology that controls any insect from overpopulation as well as disease. So start paying attention to the health of the soil:

  1. Control over watering. If your ants are wearing shorts and glasses you are over-watering. Soil biology cannot swim and drown in water. Get a whole property filter. Email me here and I will answer back in this column where you can get a whole property filter for a good price. City water destroys the soil biology.
  2. Start making compost. No room? Then buy from a local organic gardener. I will go over the correct process of making compost in a future column here.
  3. Stop using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and chemical pest control companies that kill the soil biology.
  4. Start a worm farm which will bring back the soil biology. I will go over in future columns how you can make your worm farm.
  5. Stop removing weeds which are the soil’s medics. They bring up soil biology and minerals when they return to the soil.

This is called long-term because it may take a few years to completely control. Length of time depends on whether or not you have any soil at all which most folks don’t.

So the most important part is to start bringing to your property clean soil.  Nothing with any chemicals added. I can recommend a few local places so email me here if you wish to know and I will write about them in this column.

I wrote a book called Dances with Ants. The basis of the book is not to kill the ants but to control them or rather "dance" with them. You will find that your property will be healthier and so will you be.

Ask Andy Your Gardening Questions!

Any questions or comments please send them to with "All Things Malibu" as the subject. Andy will be responding to gardening questions in his weekly column.

Thanks and have a great day!

Andy Lopez, The Invisible Gardener
Andy Lopez, CEO
Invisible Gardener Inc.
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