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Container garden insect problem

Hello! I have been working on a container garden on my little apartment porch; I am growing green peppers, tomatoes, herbs, flowers, and a lime tree. I live in the caribbean, so the weather is consistently sunny and somewhat humid. My plants loved this at first and were growing so well. However, I have in the past month developed a terrible insect problem. Ants moved into the pots, as well as what looks like millipedes (they are about 2cm long). There are also aphids, whiteflys, and mites. The one thing I don't have (I think) is snails. I have tried several kinds of commercial organic pesticide to no avail, and I tried putting my pots in a tub of water to soak and drown the ants. The ant bath worked at first but then more moved in again! These ants don't go for any brand of ant traps, either.

What is the strongest spray or treatment I can use that will kill all these baddies but is food safe? I also have a little friend gecko that visits my porch, as well as a dog, so I don't want to use anything that will hurt either of them.

Posts: 11435
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Container garden insect problem

There are two kinds of ant bait. One is for sweet eating ants the other is for grease ants. You need to identify your ant and use the right bait. There are homemade baits you can make.

Make sure your containers, measuring cups and spoons are not used for anything else.
We mix up a small batch and use plastic butter containers with small holes made on the sides near the bottom of the container. Cotton balls are put inside the containers and the liquid bait is put on the cotton. The lid is sealed and the bait placed near an ant trail. The bait will eventually get moldy but is good for couple of weeks. We throw out the old cotton and mix up a new batch and try to put the bait in different locations. The ants need to take the bait back to the nest to kill the queen so results are not immediate but it does work. Unless you control the ants, you will have problems with aphids and mealy bugs.

How to Make and Use Homemade Ant Bait

Sugar Ant Bait Recipe

Mix 2 tablespoons of mint jelly with about ¼ teaspoon of boric acid powder. Research suggests that mint jelly is the best sugar ant lure, but you can also try another jelly flavor if you don't have mint jelly in your fridge already.

Grease Ant Bait Recipe

Mix 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of honey, and about ½ teaspoon of boric acid powder. Protein-loving ants respond best to a bait made of both protein and sugar.

Using the Ant Bait

Caution: Keep children and pets away from the ant bait mixture. Although boric acid is considered to have low toxicity, you don't want your dog or cat licking up the bait, nor should you allow children to come in contact with it. It's always better to be safe! Store the boric acid and any extra bait mixture where children and pets cannot access it.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Green Thumb
Posts: 590
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:19 pm
Location: Pacific NW

Re: Container garden insect problem

Also, ants will protect aphids, that is farm them, so sometimes getting rid of the aphids with insecticidal soap will get the ants to move on.

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