The Q&A Archives: Red Ants In Soil

Question: Whenever I dig in one section of my garden, I will turn the soil over and red ants will simply pour out of the soil, ants, eggs, queens - the whole shabang! They are not on a mound. They do not seem to infest above the soil. They are not found crawling all over my plants. The soil in the area is very infertile. My concern is that the plants in that area alone are not doing well. 2 bleeding hearts, 1 climbing rose (that has yet to climb), and 3 perennial blue geraniums. This therefore leads me to the conclusion that the ants may be causing the problem. Is there a way to get rid of them without having to remove the plants? I've read your Q &A- boiling water and boric acid would certainly harm the plants.

Answer: Unfortunately, based on your description I am unable to make any specific recommendations. You might wish to contact your county extension (652-5400) for a specific identification of the ants and their most up to date recommendations of how to control them, if indeed they are something that would disturb or damage or feed on plant roots. At the same time, you might wish to have them help you run some basic soil tests to see how it measures up in view of the plants you are trying to grow and then add any suggested soil amendments based on the results of the tests. Good luck with the ants.

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