Benefits of Ants in Your Garden, ThriftyFun

Benefits of Ants in Your Garden

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Tip: Ants Are Beneficial in the Garden

If you are like a lot of homeowners and gardeners, when you see ants or an ant hill your first reaction is to get rid of them. But before you grab the scalding water or pesticide, stop for a moment and consider the benefits of having ants in your garden.

Before I extoll their benefits we can all agree that some ants, such as fire ants, are very undesirable because of their painful bite. Others, such as leaf cutting ants, may enjoy nipping at your plants to carry the bits to their nest for their fungus gardens. However, generally speaking ants are not a bad thing to have in the garden. These tiny tillers turn over as much soil as earthworms, aerating the soil and redistributing nutrients.

The leaves and insects collected on their food forays are brought into their nests and some of it decays and helps fertilize nearby plants. Additionally, as they gather food they play a role in seed distribution and pollination. Many flowering plants such as violets, viola, and other wild flowers benefit from these tiny gardeners. According to an article by Steven N. Handel and Christina M.K. Kauzinger in Fine Gardening, «This enterprise is so beneficial that plants appear to have adjusted the timing of flowering and fruiting to take advantage of high ant activity early in the year.»

Most ants are predators, they are constantly hunting for garden pests such as slugs, caterpillars, and other insects that attack lawns and gardens. According to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, they eat pests that are harmful to crops and orchards. They eliminate garden pests, killing larvae and culling aphids before they can kill the plants they are attacking. «Ants kill 40 percent of newly hatched plant-feeding bugs and 30 percent of flies, making them more effective than some pesticides.»

Again, according to Fine Gardening article, some plants reward ants for their protective behavior by providing them with delicious food sources. Others may offer safe housing. According to information posted on abugblog.blogspot.com, cherry trees, which often come under attack in spring as caterpillars and other herbaceous insects attack their new leaves also encourage ant intervention. The cherries secrete a type of nectar in tiny glands (nectaries) at the base of their leaves. As the ants scout the cherry trees for these sweet fast-food stops, if they encounter insects feeding on the cherry tree they will attack and defend the tree in the same way they protect aphids.

We all know that ants farm aphids for the honeydew that they produce and will defend them from aphid predators, such as ladybugs. This may not be one of their activities that we generally approve of, but they have been found to protect certain caterpillars that also produce honeydew. This symbiotic relationship can help increase the butterfly population. Ants help to create a balanced ecosystem. They are predator and prey, as they are food for other insects, birds, lizards, spiders, frogs, fish, and some mammals — the aardvark being a famous example.

So next time you see ants in the garden or a hill in the lawn, consider the bigger picture. Perhaps, you will determine that ants may just be more helpful than harmful in your yard.

Source: Sources included in article, there are many other posts and references that can help understand the role of ants in the garden.

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Ants Aren’t Your Enemy

If you think these little insects are pests, think again

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When you wander through your lawn or garden and stumble across an anthill, a small mound of soil molded into tiny pellets, it’s often a gardener’s first instinct to destroy it. You stomp and kick until the small hill disappears and the tiny ants scurry off. But by doing so, you’re actually doing a disservice to your garden. Though most gardeners find these anthills a nuisance, they are our first clue to the important, helpful roles ants play in gardens and lawns—they’re tiny roto­tillers. Tunneling ants turn over as much soil as earthworms do, aerating the soil and redistributing nutrients. Ants are also part of the world recycling crew: acting as scavengers, collecting dead insects and turning them into fertilizer for your soil.

Rather than being seen as pests, ants can be understood as our partners in gardening. One of the most easily observed and important roles that ants play is as seed dispersers. Here in the temperate eastern forests, ants disperse woodland spring wildflowers, such as bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis, USDA Hardiness Zones 3–9), trout lilies (Erythronium spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), and most violets (Viola spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9). They conduct this same role with flowering plants across the country. This enterprise is so beneficial that plants appear to have adjusted the timing of flowering and fruiting to take advantage of high ant activity early in the year.

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Smart seeds make ants into accidental gardeners

Ant-dispersed seeds, like those of Dutchman’s breeches (Dicen­tra cucullaria), have specialist attractants called elaiosomes, or “fat bodies,” that are rich in lipids. Ants collect seeds with elaiosomes, take them back to the nest, feed the elaiosomes to their larvae, and discard the undamaged seed on the nest’s waste heap. The seeds are removed from competition with neighbors, protected from seed predators, and “planted” in the nutrient-rich environment of the ant-waste heap. This process makes a clear argument to keep ants around—if for no other reason than to act as the gardeners of the insect world.

Another advantage of having ants in your garden is protection from herbivores. Ants are attracted to the nectar found on the plant stem or sepals (not the nectar found in flowers that is used by pollinators). The ants patrol these plants and disturb herbivores and seed-eating insects by attacking them, by causing them to fall off the plants, or by interrupting feeding, egg laying, courtship, or molting. The ants crawling all over sticky peony buds in early summer, for example, protect them from enemies, and the ants are rewarded with a rich food source. Some plants also reward this pro­tective role by housing ants in special structures, in addition to providing them with food rich in proteins, lipids, and car­bo­hydrates.

Ant protection from predation is also beneficial for some of our most common insects. The caterpillars of some butter­fly groups produce a sweet substance known as honey­dew to attract ant protectors. The ants “farm” the caterpillars, sometimes even carrying them into the ant nests to complete development. This interaction can add more butterflies and birds to your garden as they become attracted to the greater insect activity.

A few garden ants are nuisance species. Native fire ants in the South sting and bite, making them unpleasant visitors to the garden. Nonnative red imported fire ants are a more serious problem. They are overabundant because they have escaped their natural competitors and predators in South America. They damage crops, cause a decline in native-ant populations, and even incapacitate machinery. Carpenter ants live in rotting wood but do little damage to live garden plants. Most ants, however, have no negative impact at all.

If you don’t happen to have a pet anteater in your yard, you can control unwanted ants by pouring hot water into their nests, but we discourage it because of all of the important, positive roles that ants play in your garden. The ants, in fact, are eaten by other insects, spiders, frogs, lizards, birds, fish, and some mammals, forming an important part of food webs all over the world.

We are continually learning new ways that ants contribute to the ecosystem. Home gardeners can do worse than follow the biblical advice to observe the ant and be wise.

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Comments

NO, ants ARE the enemy, they make nests, they sting, they keep you from safely gardening.. a few ants strolling through, like a large black ant maybe. but tiny ants will set up shop and then it is HORRID.. live where there are fire ants or piss ants and you will change your tune. Try checking on a potato hill and a swarm comes out. try hoeing between rows and dozens start attacking your feet and crawling up your pants leg.. Then there are the battalion of ants protecting aphids on my grapes. no ANTS are the enemy and with the fire ant they are out of control, They way they are spreading and making their way more north.. more people will have to start to deal with this menace. And I am an organic gardener.. I understand about keeping things in balance. THE ANTS are NOT in balance. I currently have three areas in my small garden that have ants. Problem is. you attack them one place and they just move.

and that is just in my garden. they are all over the SE. in my yard, my flower beds; sometimes I think that the whole acreage is one giant ant hill with moving entrances. Beware, they are moving north and developing the ability to deal with colder temperatures.

They said fireants are a nuisance species. That’s what we have in the SE that sting and bite. Other ants don’t unless you bother the nest.

Simply because YOU find them to be a nuisance, does not supersede their benefits to our ecosystem.

There are obvious reasons why there not the enemy..

Once there gone because you keep pushing them aside.. your planet dies!
The queen nests outside.. its not going to re nest in your house.>
Worst damage they will do is go through the air duct to clean up some mountan dew you spilled on the floor.. then writhe in the spot it use to be in for a while and explore around for more.. and possibly never really come back.. unless.
There is a peace of donuts on the ground
If they nest in the house capture the queen and set it someware.. or keep it in a ant farm.. capture all the ants and put it on some foor in a mountan dew bottle..
Its easy. Find the queen place it in a dew bottle with dirt and a screen fused on the cap.. and keep puting food out for bait.
You will soon have 85% of the ants.. culture it outside someware.. it will nest out there and not find your house again..
Your Race destroyed.. Mine would not..
I seperated myself from yours a long time ago for to many reasons..
Instead of building a fenced in area out in the forest with dog houses.. You keep them in cages because it saves your society a dime.. And exterminate them.. Ipretending your running out of room when they can run through fenced off area.. and theres 4x the room.. and there not inside pooping in there cage.. and shoved up in a size about 2X you with you inside as the dog.. Good job.. How you treat a living creature and condone doing nothing about it because your lazy.. Because you don’t want to try harder or take responsability.. Like they exist for you and you don’t have to do jack for the.
you spend absurd money to annihilate ants and pretend there a degridation to your property value with a childish Nonsense of a sense of responsibility.. All for the concern of some cash again that is meaningless.. Your property needs to be as valuable as possible even hough your not selling it in the near future.. Geeeenius!!
Your monkeys.. and childish ones at that for 1000’s of other reasons just like these.. that you never fix or enlighten yourself beyond.. You just keep on doing so! Your A$$ holes!
A lot of the time.. 85% of the time your race makes an Unenlightened choice! based on man made or Money produced logic! Yeah and it costs so much to have dogs run in a fenced area Vs buying a building and exterminating dogs with gas.. and you dont care.. Shows you for what you really are!

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Holy crap. Could you possibly make ANY more spelling mistakes?? Ouch! I’ll take the nuisance of ants over your horrendous spelling any day!!

I hear you, I don’t mind the little black ants or large brown ants, but the red ones sting hurts so bad, and if I’m stung enough times I get an anaphylaxis reaction. I also cannot allow my little grandson who has asthma to play outside in certain areas.
I’ve actually had to dig up places and pour boiling water on it like a lake, then bury it back up with chili powder, ashes, sand then more dirt.
Imagine my horror when the corn my little grandson planted was infested. I could not pour boiling water on it. I had to carefully dig up around the roots, add cayenne pepper, then mound up with sand and soak it with water. Later I saw the ants escaping. That was easy,
But one time my little grandson was playing outside with Grandpa around my center garden in the cool of the afternoon when he let out a blood curling scream enough to turn your hair white. He had been bitten by a small red fire ant.
I ran to him and picked him up with tears streaming down his eyes, and they soon were coming down mine.

Those ants have even been brazen enough to come into my home.

I don’t use poison because I also believe in saving the eco system, but I will use vinegar with peppermint, chili , or boiling water.

Be tenacious, I’ve done this so often, they are starting to move out of my yard.

I hear the biggest problem is making sure you get the queen.

It’s strange, it’s autumn here in the high desert, all the other ants are hibernating, but not the red ants.

Such BS. They can be a benefit to the ecosystem but ants are also an indication that something has gone wrong in your garden, most likely an infestation of sapsucking insects like mealybugs or aphids. The ants are drawn to them (they don’t eat the actual insects just the byproducts they leave behind..in doing so they PROTECT those sapsuckers because they want to keep eating!) That is why they’re so detrimental to a garden, especially a vegetable garden.

I was looking to find ways to get rid of them, and then I saw this. Saved me a trip to the store! Thank you.

It’s quite interesting. Earlier this summer, there was an infestation of leafminer insects on our shard, and we almost lost all our plants to it. At the same time, we were having an ant problem indoors. So, we killed the ants inside, and shortly after, there were ants in the garden. Now, I was thinking these insects were probably doing damage to our vegetables, but upon further investigation, it turned out that they were digging the eggs and larvae out of the leaves. Eventually, the population of leafminers decreased, and the ants leave the garden alone for the most part. So, I think they’re pretty helpful.

You have it all wrong. Ants do not eat leaf miners. (I sure wish they would eat mine!) You probably also have mealybugs or sapsucking insects like mealybugs which means the ants are after their byproducts

Fire ants have no natural enemies in Southern America. Except for the phorid fly which had to be introduced and whose population is limited to a few areas.

I live in WA state we have the big red ants too and the whole state is on top of an ant hill, they are everywhere. The red ones have been here as long as I have and I’ll be 61 July 1

This article said that ants did not take the same nectar that pollinators eat but in my garden I find dozens of ants every day in zucchini flowers drinking the nectar. Do they pollinate the zucchini? Do they scare away potential pollinators? If someone knows please send me an email- [email protected]

I love these comments. Thanks. lisasgale 04/08/2019

ANTS ARE NOT BENEFICIAL INSECTS! Every «benefit» described in the article far outweighs their impact on all plants. Ask any Entomologist and they will explain what they do to protect their precious honey dew food sourced. MOST IMPORTANTLY They are an integral part of the spread of the devastating Asian Citrus Psyllid the carriers of the ultimately FATAL disease Huanglogbing (HLB) which is now considered the biggest financially threatening disease in the Worldwide Citrus Industry. Look this up. If you think your citrus is a carrier, report this to your local Agricultural Commisioner or office immediately they will probably want to study your area for quarantine. The other threats to your home garden relates to all pests that create honey dew. Ants will go to great lengths to protect and even help procreate these pests in your garden. These insects include aphids, leaf hoppers, mealy bugs, scale, white flies among others

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The highly regarded Fine Gardening publication should include researched articles about HLB and the Asian Citrus Psyllid and its’ rapid spread throughout the citrus industry. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT to every aspect of gardening and agriculture as this disease is ultimately fatal to infected citrus. People need to know about this.

www.finegardening.com

Ant — protector of forest, garden and human health

Ants are frequent guests in garden plots. They bring both benefit and harm, so often gardeners and gardeners try to get rid of them in all possible ways. However, before you start a fight with them, it is worth finding out that ants have a lot of useful qualities. The value of an ant in nature is very large.

What are ants in the forest for?

Ant status in relation to the forest is very high. Even from school, everyone knows that it is impossible to ravage ant nests. These insects protected by the state and specially settled artificially in new places.

They even deserve the title of «ants forest nurses» for their benefit.

What are the benefits of forest ants? Ants settled in dead wood, accelerate its decomposition, thus freeing the forest from diseased specimens.

These insects are predators with omnivores. During the summer season, the inhabitants of the anthill free the forest from five million harmful insects. This amount frees up a hectare of forest. Of course, birds are also engaged in the destruction of pests, but ants cope with this task more fruitfully, approximately 20 times faster.

Ants are distributors seeds of many plants. By picking them up and dragging them home, he loses a piece on the way. So plants multiply throughout the forest area.

Like bees, ants are pollinators for flowers, eating sweet nectar.

Building their underground houses and paving numerous passages for their movement, they contribute to loosening the soil. That is why forest plants living above anthills, most actively develop. In addition to air permeability, the soil becomes more nutritious, enriched with organic matter and minerals.

Ants beneficial insects for songbirds. They take them inside and out. Ant shower helps birds get rid of parasites. Swimming in anthills, the birds put insects under the wings, crush them against feathers.

What is useful ants in the garden

Despite some damage from insects in the garden, they also have a number of positive properties.

They build their anthills at a depth of one and a half meters, thereby loosening the ground. The soil is mixed at a depth of 70 centimeters, lifting particles from the lower layers to the surface. At the same time the soil becomes friable, therefore, it is better to let air through, moisture. Plant roots in these conditions get more nutrition.

Ants increase the nutritional value of the soil, as their activity contributes to the removal of greenhouse gases from the earth. The soil treated with insects is enriched with minerals. The plot above the anthill is ideal for growing all garden crops.

Thus, the presence of black ants in the dacha — a sign of good soil quality. They prefer to live in a healthy, well-warmed land. But if they suddenly fled from your site, it means that something is wrong with him and you will most likely not be able to achieve good results in growing garden crops on it.

Insects actively destroy garden pests. Garden pests: caterpillars, worms, slugs — a real treat for them. Scientists have calculated that the inhabitants of one ant hill just in one day of summer kill about two thousand garden pests and their larvae.

Treatment

The healing properties of ants have been known for a long time. For centuries, people have made them tinctures, ointments. These insects are still used today. The main active ingredient in such preparations is formic acid.

Acid-based preparations help in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatic and atrophic, neurosis, dizziness in old age. They can also alleviate the condition of patients with hepatitis.

Ants are prepared preparations with a hemostatic effect. Their venom also contains antibiotics capable of fighting fungal and bacterial infections, including staphylococci and streptococci.

Before you destroy these little workers on their sites, evaluate the benefits they bring.

A photo

Next you will see a photo of how ants are used in nature:

Useful materials

Then you can get acquainted with articles that may be useful and interesting to you:

  • Ant extermination:
    1. How to get rid of red ants in the apartment?
    2. Boric acid and borax from ants
    3. Folk remedies for ants in the apartment and house
    4. Rating of effective means of ants in the apartment
    5. Ant traps
  • Ants in the garden:
    1. Species of ants
    2. How do ants hibernate?
    3. Who are the ants?
    4. What do ants eat?
    5. Hierarchy of ants: the king of the ant and the structural features of the working ant
    6. How do ants breed?
    7. Ants with wings
    8. Forest and garden ants, as well as the ant reaper
    9. How to get rid of ants in the garden?

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