Ants are one of the most common pests that can be found in a garden bed. While they are not necessarily harmful to plants, they can be a nuisance to gardeners. This has been my concern as of recently. Since setting up my raised garden bed I started noticing more and more ants. At first I thought something had to be done to get rid of the ants. After speaking with some garden experts at my local nursery they aren’t harmful to the plants and actually help aerate the soil. By digging tunnels they aid in the transport of water and oxygen and assist in the decomposition of organic material, which can provides nutrients to plant roots. In this blog post, we will explore some reasons why you might find ants in your garden bed and discuss some ways to control them. In the end I decided not to remove the ants since they are not harmful to my garden.
Why are there ants in my garden bed?
- Soil quality: Ants are attracted to good quality soil that is rich in nutrients. If your garden bed has healthy soil, it is likely that ants will be drawn to it.
- Food sources: Ants are attracted to sweet, sugary substances, so if you have any fruit trees or berry bushes in your garden, it is likely that ants will be drawn to the sweet fruits.
- Moisture: Ants need water to survive, so if your garden bed is consistently moist or has standing water, ants may be attracted to it.
- Nesting sites: Ants need a place to nest and will often build their colonies in soil, under rocks, or in other protected areas. If your garden bed provides a suitable nesting site, ants may move in.
- Ants will protect other garden pests, such as aphids and mealybugs, that secrete sugary like substances called honeydew. It is a mutualistic relationship that will allow the pests to thrive while rewarding the ants.
How can I control ants in my garden?
- Remove food sources: One of the simplest ways to control ants in your garden is to remove any potential food sources. This might include picking ripe fruit as soon as it is ready or sealing up any food containers that are stored in your garden shed.
- Keep your garden bed dry: Ants need moisture to survive, so keeping your garden bed dry can help deter them. This might involve watering your plants less frequently or installing a drainage system to prevent standing water.
- Use ant baits: Ant baits are a common way to control ants in a garden. These baits contain a substance that attracts the ants, which then carry the poison back to their nest, effectively killing off the colony. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when using ant baits. However, I would caution this method if you have pets or young children around. Also, If you are trying to garden organically it is probably best not to have these chemicals around fruit and vegetables you will consume.
- Diatomaceous earth: Diatomaceous earth is a natural substance that can be sprinkled around your garden bed to control ants. It works by drying out the exoskeletons of the ants, ultimately killing them off. Be sure to wear gloves and a mask when handling diatomaceous earth, as it can be harmful if inhaled.
- Plant deterrents: Some plants, such as mint, basil, and lavender, are known to repel ants. Consider planting these types of plants around the perimeter of your garden bed to help deter ants from moving in.