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Organic Gardening: Carpenter Ants

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ardesia
Saint Helena Island, SC
(Zone 9a)

April 30, 2010
1:19 PM

Post #7751777

Help, carpenter ants have invaded my compost bin. This is usually a passive bin but since I found the ants I have been turning it twice a day thinking the heat would encourage them to leave but they seem to love it as the pile is very hot right now and the ants appear to be multiplying. I can't spread the compost because I can't even get near it because of the ants. They have a nasty bite although the itch goes away quickly.

Any ideas? Thanks
nedweenie
Windsor, CT
(Zone 6a)

May 4, 2010
6:18 AM

Post #7762754

Carpenter ants make their nests in decaying, moist wood, but they like to eat sweet stuff like melons (or hummingbird feeder syrup.) Your best bet is to keep turning until whatever they like that's in there has broken down. And don't put any more sweet stuff in there for awhile. (Or protein, if you put fish or meat scraps in your bin.)

Carpenter ants will make a rhumba line from their nest to the food source. Take a good look around, and try to find it. Ants also leave a chemical trail for others to follow, so if you can't find the nest, scuff up & spray the area around the bin with vinegar to break the trail.

Unless your bin is made of wood, and they've set up shop in there (!), close to the soil line. Then I'd knock it down & drag it into the woods. If you don't have that option, I suppose you could move it & treat it with borax until they're dead or gone, and then pitch it.

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/housingandclothing/dk1015.html

(If you have Flickers in your yard, don't use chemical poisons. Bust up the nest & make them go elsewhere. They eat ants. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Flicker )
ardesia
Saint Helena Island, SC
(Zone 9a)

May 4, 2010
10:14 AM

Post #7763348

Thanks, I have been turning that darn compost several times a day and they appear to have finally moved out, it is really hot in there, but I am not giving up on the turning until all the material is broken down and I can safely empty the bin. I had put the last of my citrus fruits in there and perhaps that attracted the ants.

It is a plastic bin and I will move it into the woods although we get tree roots invading it there. It can be up on cement blocks and the roots will still find that compost.

Good idea about the vinegar, I'll try that as soon as the rain stops.

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