Pests and Diseases forum→Are Ants Harmful to Gardens?

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JesusMadeFood
May 24, 2020 8:27 PM CST
I finally started my sheet mulch garden and raised bed/ container gardens and found huge colonies of small ants (look like little concrete ants, but not sure). They are in my big bales of spahgnum moss. I've got 15 or so that were bought last fall from Lowe's so they're unreturnable. I plan to use them as the top dressing to maintain moisture. I don't know if all the bags have ants, but they were piled together and some bags swarmed immediately as I picked them up to move.
Good news I've heard that ants eat termite eggs and repel them, which is good since I have some wood mulch, and might add decomposed logs.

Question: Should I be concerned about using them on my vegetable gardens? BTW, it's too far north to be fire ants. 😉
Here's a video of them.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=...
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:...
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth,... all things were created by him, and for him:” Colossians 1

[Last edited by JesusMadeFood - May 24, 2020 8:33 PM (+)]
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JesusMadeFood
May 24, 2020 9:24 PM CST
Before I posted here I searched "Ants" a bunch of times. I think that it defaulted to "plants" instead.

After going to YouTube University I found out that ants are the devil.
Did you watch the video above?
Then you know this to be true!
But all kidding aside, here's a video a raised bed gardener did on ants.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=...
I learned that ants are APHID RANCHERS! They protect harmful pests while attacking good preditory insects. First thing tomorrow morning I will move the bales back to the other side of the house.
Then I won't use them until I get rid of my ants. Maybe boric acid and sugar bait.
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:...
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth,... all things were created by him, and for him:” Colossians 1

[Last edited by JesusMadeFood - Jun 3, 2020 11:26 PM (+)]
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PaleoTemp
Jun 3, 2020 9:08 AM CST
They are in the case where they colonize aphids and then they protect the aphids from ladybugs and their larvae.
I have seen this going on, entire trees can be filled with massive amounts of aphids due to ants helping them.
Also some ants for example have taken a hold of some pots, completely removed the substrate out and stayed built a large egg chamber, basically between the roots, I mean the rest is clear what happens with the plant, but this happens pretty quickly when it happens.
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JesusMadeFood
Jun 3, 2020 10:37 PM CST
PaleoTemp,

Thanks for the warning!
They sure ARE QUICK!
Overnight it seems they established colonies from the mulch into the bags of soil they were next to. I hope they didn't invade a dying maple the bags were nearby. They hardly touched the boric acid/sugar paste.
I might need more sugar. I dripped mango juice around it and they liked it as much as me. Maybe I'll make a mango juice, aspartame, boric acid paste and offer them some. We unfortunately don't have ardvarks around here, so I will get the commercial bait stations too.
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:...
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth,... all things were created by him, and for him:” Colossians 1

US
JesusMadeFood
Jun 3, 2020 11:20 PM CST
I want to post this for anyone facing this challenge as I am right now. It looks like a very good article with lots of details. There's a chart and several videos included. I can't take credit for it. I'm just posting it as it may be helpful. Please post any methods that have worked in wiping out ant Colonies in this thread...with details.

Here's the article:
https://getridpests-com.cdn.am...
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:...
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth,... all things were created by him, and for him:” Colossians 1

Romania, Mures (Zone 6b)
Sedums Sempervivums Region: Europe Roses
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PaleoTemp
Jun 4, 2020 12:45 AM CST
At one point there were like hundreds of colonies and everything was being dug up or colonized, not sure why they were so attracted to entering the pots.
I used Imidacloprid filled tiny bits of bait from Bayer, specifically sold a ant bait.
It seems only certain species of ants were picking-up those baits and getting them into their nest, none the less the more invasive one was doing that. After a while the number of ants reduced drastically. Since everyone had these massive amounts of ants in their gardens of course not much after that new colonies formed.

I have used cinnamon before, but well yeah they seems to dislike it and change their trails, but you can't really spread cinnamon on lots of propriety when you have a massive invasion everywhere.
Also another issue is rain is washing it away quickly.
Name: Ed
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Intheswamp
Jun 6, 2020 10:20 AM CST
I'm just giving this thread a bump to see if anybody else has some suggestions. I've got (and have had for several years) a very bad ant problem on our property. Small ants, maybe "Argentine" ants. They don't sting, per se, and are really non-aggressive. I can pick okra (which usually has lots of ants on it) and have the ants crawling all over my hands and arms but they never sting or bite. The most I've really gotten from them is a bite when one would get in the crease of my elbow and I'd bend my arm, trapping the ant. BUT...they're *everywhere* and aphids are terrible each year on my southern cow peas...and of course ants are present there. In the past I've used peanut butter mixed with boric acid on a fairly large scale which *might* have slowed them down a bit, but they would regroup and come again. I'm thinking I need to treat the area outside the garden area and try to form a "no ant zone" perimeter. Shoot, they used the strips of drip tape running down the rows for super-highways and evacuation routes during heavy rains...hauling there eggs back and forth. Sighing!

They're so bad I may be tempted to go nuclear on them!!!! Grumbling
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ElPolloDiablo
Jun 8, 2020 1:45 AM CST
Intheswamp said:I'm just giving this thread a bump to see if anybody else has some suggestions. I've got (and have had for several years) a very bad ant problem on our property. Small ants, maybe "Argentine" ants. They don't sting, per se, and are really non-aggressive. I can pick okra (which usually has lots of ants on it) and have the ants crawling all over my hands and arms but they never sting or bite. The most I've really gotten from them is a bite when one would get in the crease of my elbow and I'd bend my arm, trapping the ant. BUT...they're *everywhere* and aphids are terrible each year on my southern cow peas...and of course ants are present there. In the past I've used peanut butter mixed with boric acid on a fairly large scale which *might* have slowed them down a bit, but they would regroup and come again. I'm thinking I need to treat the area outside the garden area and try to form a "no ant zone" perimeter. Shoot, they used the strips of drip tape running down the rows for super-highways and evacuation routes during heavy rains...hauling there eggs back and forth. Sighing!

They're so bad I may be tempted to go nuclear on them!!!! Grumbling


If they are Argentine ants (like they sound) they are invasive and they can be exterminated at will. The only two sure way to do so are through the use of slow-acting poison baits (fipronil-based for example) or to flow the anthill with a water hose and incinerate the ants as they come out with a blowtorch.
Fast-acting poison (like borate) and drowning the anthill in boiling water will only get you so far because Argentine anthills have many queens and all it takes is for one and a handful of workers to escape for the cycle to begin anew.

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Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
Jun 8, 2020 1:56 AM CST
I agree I'm not sure what kind of ants I have. One I know, the pharaoh ant, or piss ant as we call them here, are very tiny, black and invade the kitchen. They like sugar. You can eliminate these with Terro ant baits for outside. The other ones, the brown bigger ones, are the ones I've found in pots and under rotted wood, and underneath my wood mulch. Those are the ones in the huge clumps that go running off carrying all their undeveloped larvae. I haven't found a way to control or kill them. When you disturb them they just move elsewhere.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
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Name: Ed
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Intheswamp
Jun 8, 2020 5:27 AM CST
Yeah, we get the home invasions all along and Terro liquid does a good job on them. I'm not really sure what to do for outside of the house, though. We're talking an area covering a few acres where there's a large population. But, if we could get rid of them around the house perimeter and the garden area we'd be much happier than we are now. Of course, once we remove them they will just come back from adjacent areas. <sigh>
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PaleoTemp
Jun 8, 2020 6:19 AM CST
Intheswamp said: I'm not really sure what to do for outside of the house, though. We're talking an area covering a few acres where there's a large population. But, if we could get rid of them around the house perimeter and the garden area we'd be much happier than we are now.


like I have said above Imidacloprid bait in the shape of tiny tiny pellets can be very good for several species. They will all get them into their galleries and the queens will die. The point here is not to make a bait station so they gather there and where the bait is, it is for them to be able to carry the pellets to their queen.
On the surface stay only 10-20% of the colony, so if you see 10000 ants on the surface, you know what amount of ants are doing other chores underground and ready to replenish the dead ones.

Substance is easy to findin USA in all kind of doses, just that those sugary tiny pellets seem hard to find
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Imi...

This is the one I am talking about, but I do not think it's available in this form in the USA.
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/bay...
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
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Intheswamp
Jun 8, 2020 7:15 AM CST
Thanks for the feedback, PT. Yes, I understand that there are many more ants in the colony than are what are foraging. I've done the "boiling water treatment" before on fire ant mounds. The next morning piles of dead ants several inches deep could be found surrounding the mounds....all those dead ants had to have been brought to the surface by ant's that survived the boiling water. Lots of them that we don't see. I do plan on using bait of some sort. The issue is whatever I use either has to be organically friendly or not be used in the vegetable garden. I've broadcast Amdro with limited success so I'm hesitant to revisit that treatment.
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Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
Jun 8, 2020 7:19 AM CST
I'm thinking Amdro is called for only if the ants in question are fire ants. Otherwise, look to something else. Speaking of fire ants, I stepped into a huge nest at the lake this weekend. Size was 3' w x 4' l. Full of winged queens flying off to start new colonies. They are very bad out there. I have none in my garden. I received only 7 bites, so I feel very lucky.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
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Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
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Intheswamp
Jun 8, 2020 7:40 AM CST
Yes, you were blessed to get away that lightly from the stings. A few years ago we had a young lady die from getting bit while she was sitting on some hay bales planning her mother's funeral. Sad
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PaleoTemp
Jun 8, 2020 8:28 AM CST
I see, Intheswamp.
Have you tried Diatomaceous earth? Not sure how environmental friendly it is, I mean if it ends up in animals bodies how bad that is.
I have not tried to know how effective it is.
Name: Ed
South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Birds Beekeeper Bee Lover Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers
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Intheswamp
Jun 8, 2020 8:32 AM CST
I've simply got too large of an area to use DE, plus with all the rain we've had it would be futile at the present. It's just a bad problem without a good solution. I think I'm really going to have to broadcast "something" in a large band around the house and garden...preferably a bait-type pesticide. The bulk of the ants don't bite or sting, so that is one bright point. The negative is that they farm aphids heavily...my cow peas are wrapped up with aphids and ants....and I haven't seen the first bloom yet!!!! Grumbling
The poorest of the poor, a nation of children taking care of children - https://handsofloveusa.org/
Romania, Mures (Zone 6b)
Sedums Sempervivums Region: Europe Roses
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PaleoTemp
Jun 8, 2020 8:42 AM CST
Yeah that is why I find some solutions like "cinnamon got rid of the ants in my kitchen" on large amounts of propriety (and rain) highly unfeasible.
[Last edited by PaleoTemp - Jun 8, 2020 8:43 AM (+)]
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Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
Jun 8, 2020 9:32 AM CST
Me, too.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
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Kentucky (Zone 6b)
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UrbanWild
Jun 12, 2020 3:07 PM CST
JesusMadeFood said:Before I posted here I searched "Ants" a bunch of times. I think that it defaulted to "plants" instead.

After going to YouTube University I found out that ants are the devil.
Did you watch the video above?
Then you know this to be true!
But all kidding aside, here's a video a raised bed gardener did on ants.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=...
I learned that ants are APHID RANCHERS! They protect harmful pests while attacking good preditory insects. First thing tomorrow morning I will move the bales back to the other side of the house.
Then I won't use them until I get rid of my ants. Maybe boric acid and sugar bait.


Just want to put this out there. Not all ant species are aphid farmers. Ant species are extremely diverse and have a wide array of mechanisms by which they make a living. Additionally, even the aphid farmers (that I curse frequently as oleander aphids are appearing on my milkweeds in fair numbers) have qualities that make them beneficial. Ants prevent us from being waste deep in detritus.

In the long run, it's best to help foster ladybird beetles (ladybugs), green or brown lacewings, lizards, toads, etc. I help out with some judicious water blasting.
Always looking for interesting plants for pollinators and food! Bonus points for highly, and pleasantly scented plants.

"Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit." [“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”] -- Marcus Tullius Cicero in Ad Familiares IX, 4, to Varro. 46 BCE
Name: UrbanWild
Kentucky (Zone 6b)
Kentucky - borderline of 6a & 6b
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UrbanWild
Jun 12, 2020 3:22 PM CST
Imidacloprid seems destined to be removed from sale at some point. There is increasing evidence of cascading effects on non-target species and massive bee dieoffs. Europe has already extended the ban on Imidacloprid as well as a few other neonics. We in the USA have to be dragged kicking and screaming to such precautionary bans even in the face of large amounts of data on the harmful nature of such chems. It works very well. So well...it should make us question its use. YMMV.
Always looking for interesting plants for pollinators and food! Bonus points for highly, and pleasantly scented plants.

"Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit." [“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”] -- Marcus Tullius Cicero in Ad Familiares IX, 4, to Varro. 46 BCE

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