Ants on My Prickly Pear!

Donna Shipley
by Donna Shipley
A friend noticed some tiny (sugar) ants on my Prickly Pear then told me they would kill it. They are not easy to grow here and I really don't want to loose it. At this time it also has fruit which I'd like to eat. So I'm looking for a way to rid my plant of ants without poisoning my fruit. Anyone out there have a solution?
My Prickly Pear is ready to bloom again.
It also has lots of near ripe fruit on it, which I plan to try to eat.
  29 answers
  • Diy Design Fanatic Diy Design Fanatic on May 21, 2013
    I had fire ants attacking my potatoes this year. They would climb up the stalk and chew the stalk until it fell over. I found their nest nearby and poked holes in the ground and boiling water down the dirt. Haven't seen any ants on the potatoes since. I go out every day and poke the dirt where the ant nests were just to be sure they haven't come back.
  • Donna Shipley Donna Shipley on May 21, 2013
    Thank you, I will try that. Another source suggested using Diatomaceous Earth, which I am also going to use.
  • Carleen V Carleen V on May 21, 2013
    ants don't like chili powder. I would dirt them with it.
  • Lynne Lynne on May 21, 2013
    Donna.. FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth will be your friend. DO NOT buy the diatomaceous earth from the pool supply store. Better pet supply stores and garden centres should have it!
  • Carmen Connell Carmen Connell on May 21, 2013
    cinnamon ants hate cinnamon!
  • Sue Beckwith Sue Beckwith on May 21, 2013
    Any time I see any ants, I put out some dry cornmeal. Ants do eat it but can't digest it. It's non- toxic for pets or little children.
  • Lynda E Lynda E on May 21, 2013
    You really should contact your local extension service. Your friend may not know what they are talking about at all and you will end up killing something that needs to be left alone. It is possible you have some other type of insect on your plants that is producing food that the ants are eating. Aphids for example exude a substance that ants will harvest. If you plants are fine and you don't see damage, just leave it alone. No need to just randomly kill insects.
  • Ann M Ann M on May 21, 2013
    I have heard that Windex kills ants. Some plants need ants for pollination ... like peonies.
    If you can find their nest/mound you can pour dry grits or corn meal around it. The ants will eat it and it will expand in their bodies, killing them.
  • Donna Shipley Donna Shipley on May 21, 2013
    Thanks everyone :) I appreciate all you advice!
  • Judi Judi on May 22, 2013
    Boric Acid will kill ants....however, it might also kill other things. Not sure about that. Each Spring sweet eating ants make a trail to my kitchen. I had tried all kinds of things and nothing kept them away. I read somewhere about 'boric acid'....purchased some, put in a lid with a little sugar and soon it looked like all the ants in the world had arrived. Then they suddenly were gone and did not return until this year (and I did it again)....You might be able to sprinkle the boric acid around base of plant with a little sugar and ants would be attracted to that....I would put around plant about 6" away from plant and see what happens. It is cheap and works.....just don't put where children or pets might taste it....Also read and tried........if you sprinkle granulated washing powder across garage door, ant will eat it and take back to nest....when they drink water it kills you might try sprinkling granulated washing powders around plant, but not directly on it.
  • Donna Shipley Donna Shipley on May 22, 2013
    I knew about boric acid, but didn't think it would be good to use it on or near something I want to eat. Since I don't care about killing the plants, just protecting my plants, I've bought & used diatomaceous earth and sprinkled it around the base of the plant. I hope this will discourage the ants from crossing... I know they don't like to cross white powder so it should work. THANKS EVERYONE!!!
  • Mikell Paulson Mikell Paulson on May 22, 2013
    Cinnamon! Work great and is safe around food and pets!
  • Sandra Lankford Sandra Lankford on May 22, 2013
    Food grade DE is the best and you can use it in and out of the house. You can also take it yourself. Also peppermint essential oil is good. Mix with water in a spray bottle and mist your plants. I spray my plants, walls, doors outside to keep bugs and frogs and lizards away because i don't want them falling on me or getting inside house.
  • Beverly Brannan Beverly Brannan on May 23, 2013
    I'm a believer in natural pesticides. It is my belief there are too many pesticides in the soil and water. So I would use dish soap and water. Pour a mixture on your plant. You might want to start with small amounts and work up. You'll get the right "cocktail" eventually. We love our plants.
  • Ruth12345 Ruth12345 on May 23, 2013
    I heard windex will kill ants?
  • Kim Lankford Kim Lankford on May 23, 2013
    I am new to living in the south-I foster kittens at the local Humane Society- could I sprinkle some cinnamon by my front door where they seem to come from and form a line straight to the food dishes I put down for the babies...?I pick the dishes up as soon as they are done eating and clean up where they drop food but the ants seem to be getting the last bite here, any help? BTY, I also have a prickly Pear, when do they bloom and grow fruit?
  • Donna Shipley Donna Shipley on May 24, 2013
    Kim -- For ants in the house, I read long ago that they won't cross white powder. I've used corn starch, baby powder to block their entrance and it worked, of course then you must be watchful because they will find another way. For pet food, I set the pet dish in another dish of water with a drop of dish soap in the water. Even if they try to cross the water barrier, the soap will cause them to drown. Re: the prickly pear, those reddish things in the picture are the fruit, they've been there for a year, I picked them yesterday. I'm hoping the sweetness of the fruit was part of what was drawing the ants and that removing the fruit will be part of the solution. It's getting ready to bloom again... very pale yellow flowers, about an inch across.
  • Carmen Connell Carmen Connell on May 24, 2013
    also might help to give the dishes and area a good cleaning with strong cleaner..because ants leave a trail to find way back to the food and as a call to others
  • Liliana Wells Liliana Wells on May 24, 2013
    I wonder if spraying vinegar would work to kill the ants. Vinegar has many uses. PS - I grew up in Europe eating prickly pears and bread for breakfast or dessert after dinner. Where can I find a plant here? I would like to plant one near my house in Central Georgia.
  • Carmen Connell Carmen Connell on May 25, 2013
    not sure it would kill them may keep them away from the careful because it will kill plants
  • Donna Shipley Donna Shipley on May 26, 2013
    Liliana - After dealing with the thornes on the fruit, I will probably not try to eat them again... picked stickers out of my hands for a couple days and I was VERY careful picking and handling them. My fruit was probably over ripe too. My plant came from a friend but apparently they are available on Ebay and not too expensive. Carmen is right you don't want to use vinegar on plants unless you are trying to kill them.
  • Liliana Wells Liliana Wells on Jun 05, 2013
    Donna - when you go to tackle the fruit again use heavy leather gloves or several layers of newspaper to break it off the plant. Then to peal it, use fork an knife. Spear the fruit with the fork to hold it steady on some surface, cut off the ends, then score the outside horizontally, then with the knife pry the rind a little a time. When the fruit is ripe it should come out easily. This way you never touch the fruit with your hands. There are also some videos on YouTube that demonstrate this. Thanks for website. Enjoy your fruit.
  • Jeannine Maranchuk Jeannine Maranchuk on Jun 05, 2013
    To keep the ants off of my Peonies that I had in my front flower bed I sprinkled cayenne pepper around them. I reapplied after each rain & they were gone within 2 weeks. I lived in that house for 12 years & never had issues with ants again. I also had 2 cats & children. To keep the ants out of my house I sprinkled the cayenne pepper around the outside of the house basement as well. It was a concrete basement about 3 feet out of the ground. Never had ants again. To get rid of an ant nest I had I also used a mixture of borax & icing sugar. Gonzo.
  • Donna Shipley Donna Shipley on Jun 06, 2013
    Thanks Liliana & Jeannine.
  • Janis Hill Janis Hill on Jan 14, 2014
    Ants won't kill your prickly pear. Right now they are eating the nectar from the fruit. Simply cut the fruit off with a sharp with a sharp knife and the ants will disappear when the vestiges of nectar are gone.
  • packaged cornbread mix that says it is sweetened and put it where they are coming in if you can find it, or even on your counter in a small lid. They will take it to the mound, everyone will eat it and die, they can't digest the cornmeal, but will take it because it is sweetened. Little goes a long way.

  • Andrea Pithekoussai Andrea Pithekoussai on Jun 25, 2023

    thanks. I have the same problem and I just tried cinnamon and cloves. let's see!

  • Mogie Mogie on Jul 01, 2023

    Ants won't kill your prickly pear. Right now they are eating the nectar from the fruit. Simply cut the fruit off with a sharp with a sharp knife and the ants will go away when their food supply does.