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Ants in my compost

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Yikes! How do I deal with ants in my compost. I just started composting last year and didn't notice any ants. I use big stock feeders, eight feet across and two feet high. I put drain holes in the bottom, and I expect that's how they got in. My grandsons are turning it from one tub to the other today. We put the empty tub up on cinder blocks. What else should I do?

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

Usually when you have ants in your compost it is a sign it is too dry.

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Seedfork, see my next post.............

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Although ants can be annoying, they are considered to be beneficial insects. EXCEPT fire ants!

If you keep stirring your compost pile and disturbing the ants' nest, they will decide that humans are very annoying and they will move away.

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks, Honeybee. That's a relief.

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

Your husband is such a smart guy. He realized that the compost was too dry and was helping you prevent the ants from getting established. He must have also thought he could drown them! I'll bet after the pile has been turned and kept moist for a few weeks the ants will be gone. I do my compost directly on the ground, no separation(not that it would deter the ants one bit) they can climb right into those stock feeders, holes or no holes in the bottom. The good thing about having ground contact with the compost is the worms are able to help with the composing. A compost pile that has been thoroughly worked by earth worms is a beautiful sight to see!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Quote from Seedfork :
Usually when you have ants in your compost it is a sign it is too dry.


Thanks for mentioning that Seedfork. I have loads of ants in my bags of fall leaves-but hadn't thought about why. You're right, they don't so much like my regular compost bin.

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

I would love to take credit for observing that and being clever enough to realize in by inductive reasoning , but I read it in a book. However, I do wish to take this opportunity to put a plug in here for that book, it is the best book on Composting I have found! Not only did it have lots of good information, it was an enjoyable read with lots of pictures. The book was written by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah Martin, and is called "The Complete Compost Gardening Guide". I do have a couple of other books on composting, tons of gardening books with composting covered in them, but this book really does a fantastic job covering so many composting issues. It is my most consulted book by far, I have eight compost piles going at the moment . I actually think I spend far more time composting than gardening, but it is also my exercise program too.

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks for sharing, Seedfork. It's my exercise program as well.

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

When I first started composting the first place I came looking for help was the "Soil and Composting" forum in DG. Everyone was so helpful and there was so much info that reading about composting became an obsession!

Some of the most helpful things I learned very early on:

1) Don't worry about most insects in your compost pile/bin. They actually help to aerate the compost.

2) Don't worry if you have mushrooms growing in your compost...they're still organic.

3) Most problems can be easily solved...too wet, too dry, not enough greens, not enough browns.

The moral of this story is: don't worry...don't worry...don't worry...don't worry...don't worry

I can't tell you how often remembering those 3 things have helped me in my compost-making endeavors.
Kudos to members like HoneybeeNC, sallyg and others that helped me along the way.


Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

That's encouraging. Thanks, nutsabout.

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

You're Welcome! Hope it helps you. It helped me a lot.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Yeah, I don't get it ... were the antz causing a problem?

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

The point is I didn't know if they were a problem or not, but since I had not had ants in there before, I thought................INFESTATION!

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Ah, I see! Consider them a sign of good things. The more interaction in the compost, the better.

San Diego, CA(Zone 10a)

plus, they provide a bit of aeration to the soil. ants and worms get along just fine.

(Zone 9a)

Carpenter ants, which are common in my area, BITE! Trying to turn the compost or just add something to the pile was dangerous, they would swarm out and they can really move fast. DE was the only thing that worked for me. My bin stays pretty hot and steamy and they didn't seem to mind that at all. I know they were digesting the compost and that can be a good thing but their bites are serious and as painful, to me, as that of a fire ant.

Brooksville, FL(Zone 9a)

thank you seedfork for the info on the book regarding composting.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

where I am , i get massive colonies of the tiny ants in dry leaves. Creeeeepy- when you just wish you could grab a handful of leaves to add to the bin. They don't bite but do swarm up your arms.
In woods here in a certain nature reserve- I've seen giant ant mounds- relatively giant, as in a solid mountain of sandy sawdusty looking stuff two feet tall and around. Crawling with ants- maybe carpenters. Really skeevy, and I am not that squeamish about bugs .

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks, all. I LOVE hearing from gardeners literally all over .

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