Your garden is home to the plants you’ve grown and the countless insects it attracts, such as ants. Many plant owners use neem oil to eliminate the population of harmful insects organically. However, some wonder, “will neem oil kill or repel ants?”
This article addresses this concern and discusses ways to fight off ant infestation using neem oil. You’ll find answers to “How does neem oil kill ants?” and “How to use neem oil to kill ants?”
Neem oil is a potent pesticide that has recently gained more recognition as plant owners have turned to organic solutions for their gardens. One of the biggest concerns around the garden is ant infestation.
Studies over the years provide evidence for neem oil’s effectiveness in killing or repelling ants. The chemical compound azadirachtin found in neem oil is mainly responsible for wiping out numerous garden pests. This chemical interacts with insects’ hormonal, biological, and reproductive systems to hinder their growth cycle, feeding process, and mating.
Another way in which neem oil is effective in eliminating common garden pests is through smothering. When sprayed on something, the thin film that neem oil solution forms are lethal for insects. The breathing system of insects is around their abdomen and thorax. Hence, when you spray neem oil solution, the thin layer covers the body and suffocates the insects.
To effectively use neem oil against ants, it’s essential to understand: How does neem oil kill ants?
Neem oil kills ants in two different ways. One of those ways is smothering, which we discussed above. However, with this process, you can only eliminate ant clusters visible on plants.
To wipe out the entire ant population around the garden, you must target their primary food source: aphids. If your garden is infested with aphids, you’ll likely have ant infestation too. The good news is that neem oil is highly effective on aphids and is widely used to eliminate them.
Ants are attracted mainly to the sweet honeydew that aphids secrete and release from their bodies. Worker ants mostly carry these tiny bugs back to their mound for other ants to feed on them. This process can be beneficial to target the entire population of ants.
When aphids come into contact with potent neem oil, they ingest the chemical, which messes with their system. The neem oil-treated aphid carried by a worker ant to the ant mound means all the ants feed on the neem oil. Ants also get affected by neem oil, which can lead to their elimination.
Now that you know how neem oil affects ants, the next question arises: How to use neem oil to kill ants? There are two ways in which you can effectively use neem oil to kill or repel ants:
Spray Neem Oil Directly onto the Foliage
Directly spraying neem oil on foliage is effective for eliminating many pests. You can also eliminate ants through foliar sprays as they smother them through coverage of their breathing system. However, as discussed previously, this method is only effective for visible ants.
Use Neem Oil Soil Drench
You’ll require a neem oil soil drench for a more in-depth cleanup. This method is relatively slower than foliar spray but more functional.
Neem oil soil drench will allow plants to soak up azadirachtin through nutrient absorption via roots. Anything that feeds on the plant will then be affected since the entire plant, including the stems and foliage, will have neem oil deep within its veins. Hence, all the aphids feeding on the leaves will ingest neem oil.
Ants feasting on these aphids will also intake neem oil which will then work into their systems and disrupt them to eliminate the infestation.
To prepare a neem oil soil drench, you require two tablespoons of neem oil and one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap for one gallon of water. Mix the solution well before pouring it onto your plant’s soil. Repeat the process after three weeks if needed, as soil takes up to 22 days to fully absorb the fluids.
Spray Neem Oil on the Ant’s Mound
You can also spray the neem oil directly on the ant’s mound. This way, the chances of successfully affecting the queen ant increases. Mix two tablespoons of cold-pressed neem oil and three teaspoons of liquid dishwashing soap in one gallon of water to prepare a neem oil spray. Since you won’t require an entire gallon of water to target the ant’s mound, you can use the remaining solution as a foliar spray.
Will neem oil kill or repel ants? The simplest answer is yes. However, it depends on how you use neem oil to eliminate ant infestation. Aphids are a great source to perform this treatment plan.
You can also treat your plants with neem oil every two weeks to prevent insects from returning.