Ant colony in my compost

Discussion in 'Garden Pest Management and Identification' started by best_baker, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. best_baker

    best_baker Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Burnaby, BC
    I have one of those black plastic composter's that the City of Vancouver sold to residents. Yesterday, when I went to put in some yard waste and old container soil, I found what is obviously an entire colony of ants. The hill seemed quite far along, with tunnels and what looked like larvea being tended.
    What can I do to get rid of the ants? Is there any way to save the compost? Help!
     
  2. Raakel

    Raakel Active Member

    Messages:
    157
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    North Vancouver
    Hello,

    Here is link which gives some very good advice on what to do if you have ants in your compost pile.

    Raakel
     
  3. best_baker

    best_baker Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Burnaby, BC
    Thanks for the link.

    I read the link and it suggests that the pile is too dry. I find that hard to believe as the contents seem correctly damp. I had thought since I posted that the thing to do is supplement the compost so that it will heat up beyond ant tolerance. I'm not sure how to do it however. Perhaps add more nitrogen? I read somewhere else a recommedation to use diatomaceous earth to get rid of ants. Would it be possible to add this to my compost safely?
     
  4. Raakel

    Raakel Active Member

    Messages:
    157
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    North Vancouver
    Hello,

    Diatomaceous earth is a type of sedimentary rock composed of silica and a number of crushed fossils of freshwater organisms. It is abrasive and so when the ants crawl over it their exoskeleton is damaged and they dehydrated as a result. It is safe to add to your compost.

    If your aim is to heat up the pile to make the conditions unlivable for the ants follow these steps: The compost needs carbon, nitrogen, water and air. Currently I am sure that the ants are aerating the pile a great deal, however, it would not hurt to turn it, using a pitch fork if your pile is small enough. Return to the pile every couple days and turn it again. You had mentioned that you pile is adequately moist. If you were to pick up a bit of the compost and squeeze it, it should feel moist, but no water should be dripping through your fingers. As for carbon and nitrogen, there is a ratio that is generally recommended: 30 to 1 (carbon to nitrogen). Brown materials provide carbon, such as hay, fall leaves, sawdust and wood chips. Nitrogen can be found in green materials such as grass clippings, weeds (be sure that they have not gone to seed), fruit and vegetables and used coffee grounds (not green, I know). If you are composting primarily green materials, add a layer of brown each time you visit the compost pile to try and maintain the ratio. If you follow all of these steps and have a large enough pile (at least 1 meter by 1 meter) the compost will heat up. This also speeds up the composting process making the material usable in a shorter amount of time.

    Raakel
     
  5. best_baker

    best_baker Member

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Burnaby, BC
    Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I am going to try adding more carbon based material.
     
  6. ellellbee

    ellellbee Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Clearwater
    For a small area of ants like you have, pour boiling water over them. Stir them up and repeat. The compost can use the water anyway.
     
  7. Durgan

    Durgan Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,494
    Likes Received:
    61
    Location:
    Brantford,Ontario, Canada
    I got his from some forum. Interesting anyway and seems to indicate a real use for this product. Whether some-one is babbling or it is totally true is up to the reader to decide. It appears you have an ideal situation to test the validity of the product.
    Durgan.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2006
  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    10,059
    Likes Received:
    372
    Location:
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    It sounds like the world's best ant poison is a hoax to me. It seems to have its origin in this article on "The Spoof", "The Spoof is the leading satire newspaper on the internet providing an irreverent and satirical slant to the current big news stories."

    Here's the original article as written:

    FDA Certifies Aspartame as Ant Poison

    It is one of those stories that is intended to scare people about a certain product, similar to this email hoax about aspartame debunked many times over.
     
  9. Anne58

    Anne58 Active Member

    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Burnaby, BC
    Just ran across this post from last year and was surprised by it. I have had an ant colony in my compost box for quite a number of years. I have no idea how far down in the pile the core of the nest is but I sure have no problems with them being there.

    Every year they tirelessly carry grains of soil/compost up to the top of the box and spread it out over the freshly added plant parts. Of course when I add additional plant material, they need to move their temporary residence and I have always seen this as natures way of 'turning' the compost pile.

    The really do some awesome work when mid summer comes and they move the newly pupated ants and recent layed eggs up from the depths of the nest to where it is warmer at the top of the box. The intricacy of that ant pile with the pupae and eggs all laid out it quite amazing!
     
  10. PhillyPalms

    PhillyPalms Active Member

    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Check out http://www.terro.com

    The liquid bait stations will solve the problem without chemicals.
     
  11. Durgan

    Durgan Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    2,494
    Likes Received:
    61
    Location:
    Brantford,Ontario, Canada
    I have a Chinese friend from old rural China and he told me ants are valued for use in gardens. They even make pathways with sticks so the ants can traverse vegetation.

    The last place I lived the ants use to come in under the door into the kitchen, so I placed a small amount of honey and sometimes white sugar on the ledge and they never came into the house again. Often my neighbors complained about the ant problem they had, and looked upon my solution as not worth implementing. Their problem!

    Durgan.
     
  12. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    4,400
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Austin, Tx
    Durgan, your friend never had Fire-ants. Be glad you don't :-)
    They are wonderful aerators if you don't mind the infected
    pustules from 100 or more stings on any exposed body part.

    Fortunately for us they have released a fly that decapitates
    the ants as they forage or when defending the mound. The
    flies lay eggs in the head and the grub eats it's way out! It
    sound like appropriate revenge to me.

    Regards Chris
     
  13. Perdignus

    Perdignus Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI, USA
    OK I know this thread is old, but I have to add that I think using hot/boiling water was just brilliant. Thanks ellellbee. I am going to use some great soil from our compost bin but I discovered there were ants / flying ants in the dirt. I poured about one gallon of boiling water in a half filled 5 gallon bucket of the soil and that killed all the ants and any other bugs. I'm only concerned about getting rid of the ants and bugs because I'll be using the compost soil for indoor house plants.

    Cheers,
    Patrick.
     

Share This Page