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Do Ants Like Basil? Here’s Why and How to Get Rid of Them

Do Ants Like Basil

Are you seeing ants crawling around your basil plant, leaving behind an unwanted trail? If so, you’re not alone since ants are attracted to basil, and their presence can be a nuisance or a blessing to indoor and outdoor gardeners. 

But don’t fret because this article will delve into why ants are drawn to basil and teach you practical gardening strategies to keep them at bay. So, read on to understand the dynamic between ants and basil and maintain a thriving basil haven in your home.

Why are there ants in a basil plant?

Why are there ants in a basil plant
Image: Farmers’ Almanac

Ants like basil plants because they feed on the secretion of insects, are attracted to nectar, or like to create a nest near the basil plant.

Read on to know why you see ants on your basil plant.

1. Ants feed on the secretion of insects.

Ants feed on the secretion of insects.
Image: Martha Stewart

Basil emits a strong scent that repels pests and insects, including ants which are deterred by the smell of basil. But if ants are still on and around your basil, the culprit is most likely honeydew. 

Honeydew is the sugary liquid of pests feeding basil plants, such as aphids. Since ants love anything sweet, they go to your basil plant to feed on these insect or pest secretions.

2. Ants are attracted to nectar.

Ants are attracted to nectar.
Image: Gardening 4 Joy

Another sugary substance that ants love is the nectar produced by basil flowers. Ants can also be excellent pollinators as they are attracted to the sweet nectar in these flowers.

If your basil is flowering and infested with ants, expect to see a line of ants going to and from the flowers because, inevitably, the ants come to feast for the nectar.

3. Ants like creating a nest near the basil plant.

Ants like creating a nest near the basil plant.
Image: Better Homes & Gardens

If you see a lot of ants around your basil plant, check the soil area because the ants could also be creating a nest for themselves. Once they have created their nest, they will move deeper under the soil to protect themselves against colder temperatures.

For instance, fire ants create their colony in the soil of potted plants because they love the warm and moist conditions, which are also the ideal soil conditions for basil plants.

Are ants on basil plants a sign of danger?

Are ants on basil plants a sign of danger
Image: Garden Is Life

Having ants on a basil plant is not necessarily a sign of danger. Ants can repel or attract pests to basil plants. 

Aphids are tiny insects that suck the sap out of plants, which can damage or kill them. Fortunately, ants eat aphids, so having them around can help to protect your plants from aphid damage.

On the other hand, ants can also be a nuisance to basil plants because they feed on honeydew produced by aphids. Honeydew can leave moist basil leaves, which can also attract other pests.

How to Get Rid of Ants

Get rid of ants on basil plants by applying mouthwash, borax, baking soda, petroleum jelly, citrus, and vinegar solutions.

Read on to learn how to eliminate ants using these everyday household items.

1. Mouthwash

Image: Your Indoor Herbs

Mouthwash contains thymol, which is an active ingredient in pesticide products. To apply this to your basil plant, simply mix the mouthwash with water and use it as a spray. 

Don’t spray directly on the leaves but on the ground or around the pot. You’ll see less ants on your basil plants in no time. 

2. Borax

Image: Your Indoor Herbs

When consumed by ants, they will bring borax to their nest and store it for food but, in effect, act like poison ants. 

To use borax to eliminate ant populations, just mix everything until you produce a paste-like texture. Then, pour this mixture into the soil or around your containers. 

For faster results, look for the ant’s nest and place the mixture directly in the soil using a spoon.

3. Baking soda

Baking soda
Image: Happy Sprout

Baking soda is another common household item that acts as an insecticide and eliminates ants. 

All you have to do is mix baking soda and sugar. Then, add oil until you create a paste-like texture and apply directly in the soil using a spoon.

4. Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum Jelly
Image: Ants Authority

Ants become a problem if they can climb into the basil plant. So, to prevent them from climbing, apply petroleum jelly to the base of the plant to make it slippery and more difficult for them to climb.

It’s a simple yet effective hack, but it doesn’t kill the ants and only stops them from climbing. On the brighter side, petroleum jelly doesn’t dry out in the sun or wash away because of rain, so you won’t have to worry about constantly re-applying them. 

5. Citrus Scent

Citrus Scent
Image: Country Living

Ants don’t like citrus scents, so squeezing a rind of any citrus fruit in the direction of the plant can help repel ants.

To make a more potent repellant from citrus, boil the rinds of around six oranges in water for about 15 minutes. Then, blend all the contents and apply the mixture around the plant.

6. Vinegar

Image: Homes and Gardens

Vinegar doesn’t kill ants, but it will get rid of them. Ants find food sources thanks to the odor scent called pheromones they leave behind.

Vinegar’s strong scent will interrupt these pheromones and prevent the ants from returning to your plant. 

Mix equal vinegar and water in a spray bottle to use vinegar on basil plants. Spray it directly on the ants you see, including where they’re concentrated and the trails they leave. 

You can also soak cotton balls in vinegar and place them around the ant nest or the base of the basil plant. 

What herbs keep ants away?

What herbs keep ants away
Image: Harvest To Table

Herbs with a strong fragrance like mint, rosemary, lavender, citronella, tansy, thyme, and peppermint can keep ants away because these can mess up their scent trails.

However, more than one plant will be needed to keep them away, as they will just steer clear of that path and avoid staying near those herbs. So we recommend you plant many herbs around so the ants stay away longer.

Can ants be beneficial for indoor herbs like basil? 

Can ants be beneficial for indoor herbs like basil
Image: Garden Is Life

Ants can be beneficial for indoor herbs like basil plants because they help control pest infestation, boost pollination, and create a healthy ecosystem.

Read on to know why.

1. Ants help control pest infestation.

Ants help control pest infestation.
Image: Meg’s Edible Landscapes

Using ants to eliminate other pests has been a gardening technique since 300 A.D. They’re an effective agent in controlling the pest population, and farmers use ants as a staple in pest management strategy.

For instance, ants help control the population of pests by eating the eggs or the young or disturbing them while feeding.

2. Ants help in pollination.

Ants help in pollination.
Image: Masterclass

Pollination is essential in any ecosystem as it helps propagate the plants. Ants act as excellent pollinators by going from one plant to another for food and nectar.

3. Ants help create a healthy ecosystem.

Ants help create a healthy ecosystem.
Image: Plants Information

As ants create their nest and move deep inside the soil, they help aerate the soil and transport nutrients and water to the roots of the basil plants. 

They also help speed up the decomposition of organic matter like leaves and dead insects, which act as natural fertilizers for basil plants.

Problems Caused by Ants on Basil Plants

Ants on basil plants cause problems like pest infestation and damage.

Read on to know how they cause these problems.

1. Pest Infestation

Pest Infestation
Image: North Carolina Extension Gardener

Ants help to control and increase the pest population. Since they love sugar, they’re always searching for more sweet substances. 

For instance, aphids produce honeydew, which ants love. But ants farm aphids as they protect them from other predators so that they can keep harvesting honeydew from them.

Ants also carry the honeydew and bring them back to their colony to share with the Queen and their fellow ants. They also move them to their nest, a better location, or to other plants, which eventually increases the aphid population.

2. Plant Damage

Plant Damage
Image: Gardening Know How

Carpenter ants are known for their nesting habits. These ants build their home in the woods, a tree trunk, or any wood structure inside your home or backyard.

When the ants make their nests inside the soil, they can be too close to the plant’s roots. As a result, the constant tunneling can remove part of the soil near the roots, preventing them from absorbing water and nutrients from the soil.

FAQs on Ants on Basil Plants

Are ants eating my basil?

Ants generally do not eat basil plants. However, they may be attracted to the plant if it is infested with aphids, which produce honeydew, a sugary substance that ants love. 

Is basil a pest repellent?

Basil is a pest repellent because its leaves have a strong scent that can repel some pests. 

Why are ants more commonly found indoors in winter? 

Ants are more commonly found indoors in winter because they are cold-blooded animals. During the cold season, these ants will most likely settle in a house with its almost constant temperature, moisture, and presence of food.

Do ants eat fruit? 

Ants eat fruit, on top of most other types of food. 

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