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Oh no what have I done? Ants.

 
joseph dooley
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Hello forum
So this year i tried out sheet mulching for the first time, and I think I made a huge mistake. I was told i could use almost anything organic for the layers, and since i have so little space i just went out and foraged for supplies. Along the way, I came upon mounds of dirt in a forest nearby. I thought it was just some mulched materials left there for a while because it was in neat mounds. This was during winter and I didn't think about what could be in those mounds. I used this material in one of my layers, and now that it has warmed up a little, I NOW HAVE ANTS. Not just friendly little ants, but huge, bite your face off ants. I'm hoping that they are just workers and will die out eventually, but what if i accidentally got a queen in there? Anyone have any experience or know enough about ants to guide me? I attached a picture of the ant, I think they are called thatching ants. I have heard both good and bad things about them.
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Kevin Morland
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I didn't have giant face-eating ants, but I had a lot of them before I planted last year, and I used a lot of coffee grounds to keep the slugs away. The ants also went away, and later I read that they don't much care for coffee grounds. I have no idea if this will help you, but it worked for ants that don't eat face.

Kevmo
 
Dillon Nichols
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Gotta admit, I laughed reading your post. Nice one!

How are things developing so far?

Perhaps chickens would help with ants?

What about building a bunch of rock piles to attract reptiles to help you out?

Ants around here prefer dry warm spots; a comprehensively green and planted garden might be less interesting to them than exposed mulch, hopefully...
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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You can rake through the colony looking for eggs - small white blobs - which will tell you if you have an active queen. Boiling water poured on the nest is a safe and pesticide free way of dealing with them, but you need a large amount of water and you need to know where the core of the colony is.



Or you could try this...

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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Joseph, if you add information about your location under "my profile" it will be easier to figure out your problem. Climate makes a difference with ants.

Ants can be annoying in the garden. They do farm aphids. Also it has happened to me many times that I don't realize that I've disturbed their nest until I've got ants crawling up both arms and legs, biting me all the way, ugh. However! I tolerate them because they do great things for soil, aerating it with their tunnels, and spreading fertility around.
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Dillon Nichols wrote:Gotta admit, I laughed reading your post. Nice one!

How are things developing so far?

Perhaps chickens would help with ants?

What about building a bunch of rock piles to attract reptiles to help you out?

Ants around here prefer dry warm spots; a comprehensively green and planted garden might be less interesting to them than exposed mulch, hopefully...


My chickens tried the ants only once. They haven't gone after them since. I don't think chickens would help.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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My chickens don't care for ants but they love ant larvae. If I find a nest I'll call the chickens over and flip over whatever rock or board the eggs are under and the chickens peck them right up.

Rock piles do increase diversity of species for me, often they attract ants.
 
joseph dooley
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So just to let everyone know, the ants disapeared on their own. The garden is well on its way and i was worried for nothing Thank you all for the input
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Mariamne Ingalls
pollinator
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Location: NE Ohio (Zone 6a, on the cusp of 6b) 38.7" annual precip
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Hi Joseph -

Thanks for closing the loop on this, and for the pic of your lovely garden! Very interesting thread!

Mariamne
 
Cristo Balete
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Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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joseph, glad to hear the ants did their thing and left. They really aren't a problem in the garden. That's where they are supposed to be. They are a problem inside, but they are the Earth's clean-up crew outside.

Why they were there is an important thing to observe. You may have just made their nest difficult to access or too hot with all the mulch, so they were moving.

If ants are farming aphids, then the reason the aphids are there is the problem, not the ants.

And if ants are in a compost pile, it means the pile is too dry and not getting hot enough to actually be a compost pile.
 
Joy Oasis
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Cristo Balete wrote:If ants are farming aphids, then the reason the aphids are there is the problem, not the ants.

Well, both of them then are a problem. I had plenty of ladybugs and other predators, but until I started refilling ant baits every week with borax and sugar solution, I couldn't have any cucumbers, because ants would fight off the ladybugs. Look at the youtube videos of farming ants. I also did one more thing - saved banana peels, cut them up small and scratched them in around the plants prone to aphids - they have lots of potassium, and aphids do not find plants with lots of potassium palatable. So I can't be sure, which of those two helped more, but I think it was a combination.
 
Karen Walk
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Location: VT, USA Zone 4/5
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I had a colony of small ants in my garden - the chickens got in the other day, and went to town. No more ants. I haven't seen any squash bugs since either. I lost some kale too, but the squash pant next to the ant nest is MUCH happier. I think that after the garden gets more established, the chickens will get at least an hour or two of (supervised) garden time each week.
 
Joy Oasis
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Karen Walk wrote:I had a colony of small ants in my garden - the chickens got in the other day, and went to town. No more ants. I haven't seen any squash bugs since either. I lost some kale too, but the squash pant next to the ant nest is MUCH happier. I think that after the garden gets more established, the chickens will get at least an hour or two of (supervised) garden time each week.

This is great! I do live in an apartment and garden in the community garden, so chickens wouldn't work for me. I do have guinea pigs (my cute fertilizer makers), but they are vegetarians...
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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