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Soil and Composting: Ants in my compost

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Forum: Soil and CompostingReplies: 19, Views: 158
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sybram
Burleson, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 13, 2013
7:16 AM

Post #9557375

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?
Seedfork
Enterprise, AL
(Zone 8b)

June 13, 2013
7:48 AM

Post #9557425

Usually when you have ants in your compost it is a sign it is too dry.
sybram
Burleson, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 13, 2013
8:54 AM

Post #9557507

Seedfork, see my next post...

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 13, 2013
9:10 AM

Post #9557529

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.
sybram
Burleson, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 13, 2013
9:45 AM

Post #9557579

Thanks, Honeybee. That's a relief.
Seedfork
Enterprise, AL
(Zone 8b)

June 13, 2013
10:31 AM

Post #9557647

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!

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

June 18, 2013
6:16 AM

Post #9563204

[quote="Seedfork"]Usually when you have ants in your compost it is a sign it is too dry. [/quote]

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.
Seedfork
Enterprise, AL
(Zone 8b)

June 18, 2013
10:28 AM

Post #9563563

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.
sybram
Burleson, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 18, 2013
7:39 PM

Post #9564404

Thanks for sharing, Seedfork. It's my exercise program as well.
nutsaboutnature
Algonquin, IL
(Zone 5a)

June 22, 2013
3:55 PM

Post #9568956

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.


sybram
Burleson, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 23, 2013
11:41 AM

Post #9569998

That's encouraging. Thanks, nutsabout.
nutsaboutnature
Algonquin, IL
(Zone 5a)

June 23, 2013
8:29 PM

Post #9570602

You're Welcome! Hope it helps you. It helped me a lot.
summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

June 29, 2013
8:57 PM

Post #9579485

Yeah, I don't get it ... were the antz causing a problem?
sybram
Burleson, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 2, 2013
4:53 PM

Post #9583865

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!
summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

July 2, 2013
5:09 PM

Post #9583878

Ah, I see! Consider them a sign of good things. The more interaction in the compost, the better.
stevelvv
San Diego, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 15, 2013
6:46 PM

Post #9631918

plus, they provide a bit of aeration to the soil. ants and worms get along just fine.
ardesia
Saint Helena Island, SC
(Zone 9a)

August 18, 2013
5:00 AM

Post #9633973

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.

meadowyck

meadowyck
Brooksville, FL
(Zone 9a)

August 18, 2013
5:32 AM

Post #9633989

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

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

August 18, 2013
9:06 AM

Post #9634225

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 .
sybram
Burleson, TX
(Zone 8a)

August 19, 2013
1:03 PM

Post #9635312

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

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