Ants in the Compost

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I've got a nest of ants in my biggest compost pile. It is still working and hot in the middle when I turned in yesterday. Any suggestions of best way to get rid of them? Thanks
--
Elaine



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A little more moisture, turn when it cools again.
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Thank you, we are getting some much needed rain now. It might have been drying out to much and I need to reduce the size down to 3x3x3 according to what I just read from researching.
For anyone interested I found a great site on all composting questions while I was waiting. Got to: www.compostinfo.com
p.s. I also learned I must wait another couple of years for my Buckeye to bloom :>( They need to be 4 yrs old. What did we do before the net??

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You didn't say were you're located, but I wouldn't be surprised if they're argentine ants. http://www.pestproducts.com/argentine_ant.htm
They often build nests in loose mulch, top soil, a compost pile is like a giant suite for them. Turning over the compost pile will encourage them to search for a nest elsewhere. Or place a fripinol based pesticide, such as combat ant gel. It is a slow acting poison that is spread from ant to ant and can easily kill the entire colony.
-S
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I'm in GA, not the fire-ants or carpenter I'm sure. Small blackish-red ones might have been brown. I think my mom called them piss ants (sorry) when I was little although they may be argentine.
Oh my I just read the link you sent. They must be the worse kind to have anywhere must less a compost pile. I hope they don't get in my house!
Will this fripinol pesticide damage plants later you think when/if I can use it? I would sure hate to lose it. It's my last pile for the summer.
I read boiling water might work but when I turned the pile they were everywhere. I can see myself running back and forth with boiling water through the house. A pretty site I don't think. It must be a very large colony but I didn't stay long enough to count them. The whole inside of my compost was moving. yuck. And I thought fire ants were the worse we had going.

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If anyone else is having this problem I found this answer on www.plantanswers.com: Make a solution of diazinon and drench the pile; this will get rid the ants but not damage the usefulness of the compost. You could also apply a fire ant bait such as Amdro around the base of the pile and let the ants come?and?get?it!!!
personally I am going to try both, just hope they don't take up residence anywhere else!

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Google seems to suggest that piss ants is slang for sugar ants. http://pestcontrolsupplies.com/SugarAnts.htm

Out here in california, we often get Argentina ants, they invade the house when it rains in the winter and their nests get flooded, and in midsummer. Leave even a small piece of food on the counter or floor and you'll know right away.

Different ants accept different pesticides/baits. Combat Ant Gel is a little syringe of a sugar and pesticide gel. You only need to put a few dabs down. If you're concerned, take an old glazed tile, or maybe a soda can that has been cut in half, and squeeze out a few dabs in it., put that in the shade near the compost pile. The scout ants will find it soon enough.
If you can't find it at your local home depot, try this. (Amazon.com product link shortened)
Another good pesticide is hydramethylnon

I'm not too big on the boiling water method, that requires me to navigate from the kitchen to the yard with a large pot of scalding hot water...i'm too clumsy.
Then you have to ask yourself, does it really matter if they're happy in the compost pile? Live and let live? If it's far enough away from the house, let them be, they're doing a job that nature intended for them.
-S
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can
little
out
my
the
let
in the garden ants are one of a number of anthropods that do an useful tasks for us. In the house they can be a nuisance (I find anyway) yet outside they do us some favours we may never realise. I have slaters and millipedes in my compost from time to time. I don't much like them however they are busy doing something there so I leave them be. Eventually they move on when whatever work they are doing is done. According to the info I have anthropods shred organic material increasing the surface area for bacteria and fungi to work (they act as organic can openers). Apparently they eat bacteria with their food and then shit the bacteria out all over the place. Bacteria can't move that far, anthropods do it for them. Their poo is also high in nutrients (similar to worms) and they help the porosity of soils.
As a suggestion, do some research on what ants may be doing in the compost before you kill them. If you find they are of some benefit you may leave them or you still have the ability to kill them.
rob
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OK guys you have convinced me. I respect and love Mother Nature too.
I did not realize ants had similar poop as worms and I know they have a job to do I guess, other than reproducing (which btw they are apparently quite good at). So I will not put out chemicals. I don't like them using anyway, but I will continue adding lime. Hopefully they will find a new resident soon and it will be in the opposite direction of my house or the nearby log/bush pile I left for the other critters to use. Birds and chipmunks are nesting in it right now. :-)
Guess it is time to start another pile. That's fine. Most of spring planting finished anyway and I have some aged stuff I can use as mulch. Thanks again for the insight and happy gardening.

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job
elaine, I do not know if ant poo is as good as worm poo. I spoke about anthropods in general (of which ants are one variety) however if ants are common to the rule then their poop will contain some nutrients as well as spreading bacteria. When you turn your compost and eventually dig it out you should do enough to disturb the ants nest (unless it is below ground level). Try turning the compost and see what effect that has on the ants.
rob
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elaine snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net wrote:

In the early spring I sometimes see ants in my compose bin. My solution is to add fertilizer and more moisture. The fertilizer helps the pile heat up. The ants are always gone within a week.
--
Bill R. (Ohio Valley, U.S.A)

Gardening Since 1969
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Thanks I will give the fertilizer a try too. We are due for more rain this weekend so the timing for all this such be about right.
BTW Bill you have a beautiful website of your garden! I enjoyed it.
wrote:

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elaine snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net wrote:

Thank you Elaine. The garden is a lot of work but, as the pictures show, it is worth it. I'm putting in the Dahlias this week. I got several new ones and I'm looking forward to seeing them bloom this summer.
--
Bill R. (Ohio Valley, U.S.A)

Gardening Since 1969
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All the above pesticide advice is useful. I have also used garden lime or quick lime to get rid of maggots in the compost pile and I would conjecture that this same lime may well get rid of the ants as well. I am not sure but would be willing to give it a try. Please let me know what yoyu folks think. Lime, by the way, is great for your compost and will not hurt the resulting mix as a soil additive:)

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Thank you Mr Nice Guy! Due to my acid soil pH I am already using lime in my compost. I just started a couple weeks ago and saw them when I turned it, but I did not realize it was such a big colony or what kind they were. Lime doesn't seem to have affected them much. Maybe I need to add in some more?

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I pour common household bleach on them if I can't fry them with my magnifying glass.

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Poison info for ants which only try to clean up our mess yet...
Go to your local drug store and purchase boric acid powder. Mix it 1 part Boric acid to 10 parts sugar. Place it on you pile about 1/4 cup of the mix and cover with a rock. Same mix works with carpenter ants or others in your home. Place 1/4 cup in a few containers in your basement or under kitchen cabinets and it is good for years.
Best practice still may be to aerate your pile and not provide ant desirable stuff.
My Dad gave me some boric acid clothes washing stuff but I forgot the name. Perhaps it was 20 mule tide ? I have it about but have yet to use it.
Bill
--
S Jersey USA Zone 5 Shade
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My Dad gave me some boric acid clothes washing stuff but I forgot the

It's called "20 Mule Team Borax Powder". You can also use it in your yard to control hookworms in your pets. It doesn't kill from what I heard, but makes the soil unfavorable for them so they leave. I thought about using that the other day maybe I will. If it doesn't kill the hookworms it shouldn't kill the ants, just make them leave, right? And it should also be alright for the plants later. What are your thoughts anybody?

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elaine snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net says... :) the soil unfavorable for them so they leave. I thought about using that the :) other day maybe I will. If it doesn't kill the hookworms it shouldn't kill :) the ants, just make them leave, right? And it should also be alright for the :) plants later. What are your thoughts anybody? :) :) It doesn't take a lot of borates in the soil to make it where plants won't grow.
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Lar wrote:

Lar is correct. You have to be careful about what you put in your compost pile. I avoid any kind of material that has had any chemicals applied to it. Some stuff can take years to become inert.
--
Bill R. (Ohio Valley, U.S.A)

Gardening Since 1969
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