This time of year, there seem to be ants everywhere. Ants are generally considered one of the good bugs, but the verdict is still out for some gardeners.
Ants don’t normally cause problems in the garden on their own and they won’t eat or harm your plants.
Ants can be beneficial pollinators and they eat the bad bugs that do damage to your plants.
They can also be beneficial to the soil.
They help aerate the soil with their tunneling, and break down organic matter.
But there are a few things they can do to cause problems in the garden.
Ants can carry mealybugs, aphids and other sap sucking insects to plants, and protect these pests from predators. The ants will feed off of the sweet bi-product produced when sap sucking insects feed on plants. If you have ants, check to make sure the plants they frequent aren’t infested with sap sucking bugs.
When ant populations get very large, their tunneling can harm or weaken a plants root system. I’ve heard that fire ants are a major nuisance to gardeners too, but luckily we don’t have those here in Minnesota.
The biggest issue I have with the ants in my gardens are the ant hills that pop up between my decorative pavers.
But those are only annoying to look at and aren’t causing damage.
I don’t kill ants in my gardens, so far they haven’t proven to be a nuisance (knock on wood).
If you have a major infestation, you may find yourself reaching for the pesticide. But if you can, stay away from using pesticides because the poison will kill all bugs – good and bad.
You definitely want to keep the good bugs in your garden!
Instead try pouring vinegar, soapy water or boiling water on the ant hill to kill the ants. You might also try drowning the nest with water, which will probably encourage them to move.
So what do you think, are ants friends or foes in your garden ?