Kittredge, CO(Zone 4b)

Hello, I'm sure I'm posting in the wrong place, but I am a beginner, so here goes. I've been filling my compost bin all winter, and I just went to turn it, and the thing is infested with red and black ants. I'm not sure how to proceed, so I need some advice. A leaf and dirt pile nearby is also infested with smaller brown ants. This area happens to be where I had hoped to place my garden, but now I'm not sure because of the ants. I'm hoping to eradicate the ants and still use my piles, and I'd like to know of any safe alternatives to pesticide, as I have small children.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Tenderkat, there is a whole volume of tips, trials and fun re ants in the Landscape forum 27th May, this might point you in the right direction, hope so as from what I have read and laughed about is that you guy's in USA have a real problem with these tiny beasties.
Good Luck and hope you enjoy your entry into the garden world.
WeeNel UK.

Windsor, ON(Zone 6a)

Try diotomatious earth. It is a natural product, so it can be used in your compost bin. It is crushed seacorals and other sea urchins. it cuts up their underbelly when they crawl across it and the powder absorbs their moisture.

This message was edited May 30, 2007 10:25 AM

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi momo125, so glad I checked this item, I have never heard of this product though I am in UK, do you think it would work in the same way for slugs and snails, I could feed the French army on these slimey creatures and it is an ever ending battle, any web address for this stuff, or just Canada wide, we visit USA often and maybe I could get some on my next trip, sounds better than chemicals whick I DONT use.
Thanks for this tip. WeeNel UK>

Kwajalein, Marshall Islands(Zone 11)

I'm curious about your comment regarding diotomatious earth. I live on an island in a coral atoll. We have no soil to speak of, just coral and sand so we grow most things in pots. Yes, I agree that it would be a deterrent for slugs and snails - the only types of those we have out here are underwater. But ants is probably one of the biggest pest problems on the island! So I don't understand the efficacy of this product for the elimination of ants. Is there something here that I am missing?

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

I have used diotomatious earth for many years and have had lots of success with it. However, I've only used it for soft-bodied critters such as slugs and snails--it works great for them as it can cut up their underbelly and cause them to die. I've never seen it do anything to the ants in my garden though. I have lots of them, especially fire ants, and it doesn't even slow them down. WeeNel, if you can get your hands on some of it, I'd highly recommend it for your slug and snail problem. I just sprinkle it liberally around the base of the plants I don't want them on and it takes care of them. And rain doesn't diminish it's effectiveness either.

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

Forgot to mention, WeeNel, that Lowe's here in MS has started carrying diotomatios earth. Don't know it you have one of those or not. If you don't have a store close by, you might be able to go to Lowe's online.

Windsor, ON(Zone 6a)

weenel, it is reccommended for all soft bodied creatures.
Islandshari, can you use other insecticides? There are not many chemicals available for use in Canada. But you could try diazanon.

Kwajalein, Marshall Islands(Zone 11)

We can't bring in anything like that.....our post office is an Army Post office, and everything gets checked.....they have to be very careful of what comes in/goes out because we are so small. I probably don't have the name right, but I think the stuff we are given to use is boric acid? does that sound right? It's a white powder that some times works, but most times does not. Many people have home-made remedies that I have tried off and on, but you will not believe what works the best.....Nutrasweet!

Brevard, NC(Zone 7a)

I think diotomatios earth is an alternate use product in swimmimg pools, you might check with a swimming pool supply store. My family in the south swear by putting grits on the ant hills. The idea is that when the ants eat the grits it swells up and causes internal blockages. My husband thinks that is a good use for the grits. I have had very good luck with a product called Terro II (which has boric acid in it) I use the liquid in the traps and the ants carry it back to the nest for the rest to eat. I use them under my roses to kill the ants that "farm" the aphids and get good control of both insects. As far as a safe snail and slug product if you put a ring of lawn fertilizer around the plant or bed when the snail/slugs cross the fertilizer it sticks to them and dries them out. We used this method at the Mall where we had to be carefull of what chemicals we used. Iam told but haven't tried it that beer in a container will attract the snail/slugs and kill them.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

You shouldn't use the swimming pool grade of DE for anything in the garden. For one thing, it's been all smoothed out so it doesn't have the sharp edges of the other stuff which is what makes it effective against the soft-bodied insects, but it's also a fine dust that's a breathing hazard for people.

Brevard, NC(Zone 7a)

ecrane3 thanks for clarifing the differance. Thats whats great about this site.

Mooresville, NC(Zone 7b)

butter3fly...you're right about the beer. Just pour a beer in a shallow container and put it were your snail/slug problem is, right before you go to bed. They crawl in the beer and drown.

I started a post under the Beginner Landscaping section about a problem with fire ants. There are almost 100 posts now, tenderkat. You should take the time to read all the different ways that people have tried to get rid of them. I've tried them all and nothing worked for me except resorting to chemicals. Spectracide wiped them out.

But now I have a new problem...the same as yours. I went to turn my compost bin and there were ants EVERYWHERE!! So I'm back to square one. I can't use the Spectricide if I want to use the compost and I can't just dump the compost in the garden with all the ants in it!
We may just have to start our compost bins all over...but then, what's to prevent it from happening again?

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