Ants are amazing and they’ve been around since the time of dinosaurs. There are over 12,000 species of ant. They are found on every continent except Antarctica and their biomass is estimated to be the same as that of humans (approx. 80 billion pounds) They hear with their feet, lift 20-50 times their own weight, and even enslave other insects to do their bidding!
In the garden, ants can be both beneficial and a pest.
Most ants dig tunnels in the soil. These tunnels facilitate the movement of air and water through the soil. Also, food collected by ants (and their excrement) add nutrients to the soil. Some ants are predators and some even pollinate flowers and spread seeds.
At the same time, ants will defend and even farm aphids, mealybugs, and soft scale in exchange for excreted honeydew. This honeydew is also the perfect breeding ground for fungal diseases, such as sooty mold and rust.
It is a good idea to monitor your plants for ant invasions. Heavy ant populations often indicate other pests. To safely reduce ant populations in your garden, you can try these methods:
One way to keep ants out of fruit and nut trees is to wrap the truck with duct tape and slather the tape with sticky barriers. Ants cannot cross this barrier, so they will be unable to defend other pests.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!