Do Orange Peels Repel Ants From Your Garden?

Ants are both friend and foe for gardeners. They offer several benefits, especially in promoting lush growth, but they can also cause damage to both plants and garden structures. Many people say orange peels are one of the safest and most effective weapons in repelling ants but do they really work?

Orange peels can repel ants from your garden because ants hate the citrusy smell. One whiff of this pungent scent sends ants scurrying off. Orange peels may not kill or even injure colonies of ants, but they can definitely repel and keep ants away.  

We will talk about how you can use orange peels to keep ants away from your plants and what other benefits these citrusy garden aids can offer. I will also discuss why you should control the ant population in your garden, followed by additional tips on effectively keeping them at bay. Let’s start!

How To Repel Ants From Your Garden With Orange Peels

Ants hate anything citrusy, and orange peels are known for retaining their pungent, citrusy scent. They are reliable weapons in ridding your garden of ants and many other pests. So don’t just throw away those orange peels because they can be of use for you in keeping your plants healthy and thriving. 

Here are two ways to use orange peels to repel ants from your garden:

Chopped Orange Peels

You can chop your orange peels into smaller pieces and scatter them around your garden. Focus on areas where you frequently spot ants. You can also place them at the base of plants to discourage ants, especially fire ants, from preying on your greenery.

Only fresh orange peels work because they still hold that pungent aroma. Once they’ve dried, they lose that citrusy smell that ants hate. Also, ensure that none of the fruit’s flesh is still attached to the orange peels. The juices and sugars from oranges may attract ants and other pests into your garden.

Orange Peel Spray

Orange peel spray is a great way to keep ants away and make your indoor and outdoor garden smell fresh. It is essential to use this spray every 3-4 days for it to work. The lingering citrusy scent will be a potent weapon in driving ants away.

Here is how you make orange peel spray:

  1. Boil some orange peels in a pot of water for about 10 minutes. 
  2. Let it cool down a bit.
  3. Strain the liquid into a spray bottle. 
  4. Spray over your plants and soil, especially around areas frequented by ants.

Benefits of Orange Peels in Your Garden

Orange peels offer many other benefits to your garden apart from their ability to repel ants. These handy kitchen helpers can aid in improving soil quality, and you can also use them in making fertilizer for your plants. They can even drive larger animals away that may potentially damage your garden.

Here are some additional benefits of orange peels:

Acidic Soil

Certain plants prefer acidic soil. One quick way to boost soil acidity is by sprinkling shredded orange peels into the medium. Doing so can significantly help promote growth and lushness with certain plants.

Repels Pests

Orange peels repel other pests, too. Some insects hate their strong citrusy smell and would go along their merry way rather than have to smell orange peels as they feast on your plants. Orange peels may not exterminate pests, but you may use them to keep pests at bay.

Pests repelled by orange peels include:

  • Slugs
  • Aphids
  • Fruit flies
  • Whiteflies.

Repels Furry Animals

Surprisingly, dogs and cats do not like citrus smells, either. If your furry pets like digging around in your garden or nibbling on leaves, vegetables, fruits, or orange peels might be able to help. Scatter a few of them around your garden, especially at the entryway, to prevent cats and dogs from exploring your garden.

Are Ants Bad for Your Garden?

Ants are bad for your garden because they protect pests, particularly scale insects and aphids. They feed on the honeydew secreted by these pests as they feed on your plants. A massive swarm of ants indicates that an equally massive horde of aphids or scale has infested your garden. 

In addition, certain kinds of ants instantly spell bad news. These ants are destructive and can ravage your plants and your property. Their drawbacks far outweigh the benefits of allowing them to stay in your garden.

Here are a few of those destructive ants:

Fire Ants

These are the red ants that sting you when provoked. Their bites leave a burning sensation, hence the name. After getting stung, you will see little red bumps on your skin, which can be itchy and painful for at least a few hours. In extreme cases, fire ant stings can cause mild to severe allergic reactions.

Fire ants are garden pests because they sometimes feed on seeds, young plants, and even vegetable crops. They also chew on electrical wires and cables and can cause structural damage. 

A colony of fire ants can efficiently excavate through walls, ceilings, wooden structures, and even trees. If a colony decides to live in any of the structures in your garden, they may become weak and eventually collapse. 

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are large and black. They can grow up to an inch long. They love building nests in trees and wooden structures like trellises or wooden borders, weakening them in the process and putting them at risk of collapse. The damage they cause is often confused with termite damage because, like termites, they chew tunnels through the wood.

The Good Side of Having Ants in Your Garden

Ants aren’t all that bad. They promote a healthy ecosystem, aerate the soil, and help fertilize plants. They also help eliminate some types of pests by eating their eggs and larvae. Additionally, ants assist in pollination via their endless travel from garden to garden in search of food. 

Here are some benefits of having ants in your garden:

Eggs and Larvae Predators

Ants feed on the eggs and larvae of common garden pests like caterpillars and moths. These pests are highly destructive with their voracious appetite for leaves and stems. A healthy population of ants can effectively naturally reduce the number of pests in your garden.

Promotes Fertile Soil

Ants have a seemingly choreographed way of tunneling through the ground to collect food. In doing so, they inadvertently aerate the soil and make nutrients, oxygen, and moisture accessible to plants’ roots. 

Healthier soil means healthier, lusher plants. Ants also aid in the faster decomposition of organic elements in the soil, such as leaves and dead insects. These act as fertilizers for plants. 


Like bees and butterflies, ants are beneficial insects, too. They aid in pollination because they frequently travel from plant to plant and flower to flower in their endless quest for food. They are handy helpers in the garden in promoting healthy harvests and lush greenery. 

Other Natural Ways To Repel Ants From Your Garden

It is quite a challenge to rid your garden of ants entirely. It’s probably an impossible feat. However, controlling their population, at least, is essential to ensure the safety and well-being of your plants. 

Here are a few natural and effective ways to keep ants away from your garden:

Cinnamon and Cayenne Pepper

Just like orange peels, ants hate the smell of cinnamon and cayenne pepper. These may not injure or kill those pesky ants, but they will help drive them away from your garden. All you have to do is sprinkle cinnamon or cayenne pepper powder around your plants, especially near the ones frequented by ants. 

Sweet Borax Bait

Borax is a proven reliable way to eliminate these insects. It’s toxic to ants and acts as a bait that can kill a whole colony. The bait will attract the worker ants above ground, but it won’t kill them instantly. They unknowingly bring the poison underground to their colony, where the rest of the ants will consume it and eventually die. 

Here are two different ways of making sweet borax bait:

Cotton Balls Baits

  1. Pour 1 ½ cups of warm water into a jar.
  2. Mix 1/2 a cup of sugar and 1 ½ tablespoon of borax.
  3. Mix until elements are well-dispersed. 
  4. Soak some cotton balls in the sweet borax bait.
  5. Scatter the soaked cotton balls around your garden, where you frequently see ants.

Plastic Bottle Baits

  1. Pour 1 ½ cups of warm water into a jar.
  2. Mix 1/2 a cup of sugar and 1 ½ tablespoon of borax.
  3. Mix until elements are well-dispersed.
  4. Transfer the contents into plastic bottles, depending on how many you need. 
  5. Poke holes in the bottles to allow ants to crawl through and into the liquid.
  6. Place the plastic bottles around your garden where you usually see ants.

Sugar may sometimes not be potent enough to attract ants to these baits, so you may also try using peanut butter as a substitute. Ants will undoubtedly flock to this sweet and savory trap.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

DE is a natural and non-toxic substance that is highly effective in killing ants. It works by dehydrating ants, eventually causing death. It comes as a fine white powder and works only if the ground is completely dry. If you have pets, it would be best to use food-grade DE.

Here is how to use DE:

  1. Wear a protective mask and goggles. These safety items ensure that the fine powder won’t get into your eyes, mouth, or nose. 
  2. Scatter layers of DE in areas where you usually see ants.
  3. Scatter DE near or over anthills around your garden.

Boiling Water

You should avoid this method if the ant hills and nests are on your lawn or next to your plants. The boiling water may end up killing your grass and plants, too. In these cases, you may use cold water instead to disrupt the ants and hopefully encourage them to move elsewhere. 

Here is how to use boiling water to eradicate ants:

  1. Wear protective gloves. 
  2. Pour boiling water directly over anthills and nests. 
  3. Rake some of the soil away and pour more boiling water. This process ensures you get as deep into a nest as possible to kill as many ants in the colony. 

Eradicate Aphids

Aphids attract ants through the sweet and sticky substance they secrete called honeydew. They secrete honeydew as they suck nutritious juices from your plants. Eradicating the aphid population will usually drive ants away since they will no longer have any honeydew left to enjoy. 

You can eradicate aphids by spraying them with a strong and steady stream of water. You can also use cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol to kill them on contact. Neem oil solution, a trusty pest control option, is also effective in ridding your garden of aphids. 

Final Thoughts

Ants may offer certain benefits to your garden, but too many of them can be overwhelming. A large colony of ants may undoubtedly pose problems for your plants. Orange peels are one of the simplest, safest, and most effective weapons to keep those pesky ants away. 

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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