How Do I Get Rid of Red Ants in My Garden?

Jorge Gonzalez/CC-BY-SA 2.0

A mixture of citrus oil, molasses and liquid dish detergent can be poured directly onto ant mounds to get rid of red ants in the garden. A compound called d-limonene in citrus peels is toxic to ants and is the key component to their elimination. The mixture may require several applications to completely eliminate the colony but typically begins to reduce ant populations after the first application.

  1. Make a citrus extract

    Add about 8 cups lemon, orange, lime or grapefruit peels to a lidded gallon container, then cover the peels with water. Allow the mixture to remain undisturbed for at least 3 days, then strain and save the liquid. Discard the citrus peels.

  2. Mix the citrus extract with molasses and dish detergent

    In a gallon container, mix the strained citrus extract with 1 teaspoon molasses and 3 ounces liquid dish detergent. Add enough hot water to fill the container, then shake well to combine the ingredients. If possible, heat the mixture slightly before treating the ant mounds to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.

  3. Pour the citrus oil mixture onto the ant mounds

    Pour a full gallon of the mixture on each ant mound in the garden. Repeat the process of treating each mound with the citrus oil mixture at least once a week until the ant colonies are eliminated.