How Do I Keep Ants Out Of My Compost Bin?

When one asks the question – How do I keep ants out of my compost bin, it usually gives away the gravity of the ant situation in their compost bin. However, there is nothing much to worry about because the ants can be tackled just with our presence of mind. And who knows, maybe ants can be helpful to our garden? Let us find out.

Are Ants Good Or Bad for the Garden?

Ants on food scraps

Ants are not all bad for the garden, as long as the infestation does not get out of hand. In fact, ants can contribute to a healthy garden in certain ways, such as –

Ants are natural pest controllers.

Ants, much like lady beetles, green lacewings, and other helpful bugs, consume pests’ eggs and young or interrupt them during feeding to help manage other creatures.

Ants are such a powerful biological control agent that some growers purposefully introduce them as part of an Integrated Pest Management approach.

This isn’t a novel concept, either. Farmers using ants to manage pests has been documented since 300 A.D.

Pollination Rates are Boosted by Ants

Many gardeners are struggling to get consistent, strong yields from fruiting crops as pollinator populations decline. Fortunately, ants can help! Ants operate as unintended pollinators by going from blossom to flower in quest of nourishment.

Ants Help to Maintain a Healthy Ecosystem

In traditional gardening, ants aerate the soil by excavating tunnels that bring water, oxygen, and nutrients to plant roots. They also hasten the decomposition of organic matter such as leaves and dead insects, which allows plants to be fertilized.

Tower Garden is devoid of dirt (and is more efficient as a result). However, ants can still help the growing environment as a whole. Because, in addition to eating pests, ants provide a food source for larger species like lizards, frogs, and birds, which also help to avoid pest problems.

Just like the two sides of a coin, ants have two sides as well. On one hand, where they keep their own garden healthy and pest free, they also tarnish it in ways such as:

Ants Induce Pain and Damage to Property

Certain ant issues may be more concerning to your garden experience than the garden itself. And there are two varieties of ants that are particularly troublesome. Fire ants, perhaps the most well-known ant species, will sting if provoked. Their poison causes a painful welt to appear on the skin that lasts for several days.

Harvesting could be a nightmare if your plants are infested with fire ants. Carpenter ants may bite (with powerful jaws) and then spray formic acid — which causes a burning sensation — into the wound, even though they can’t sting like fire ants. So… a carpenter ant bite isn’t exactly a pleasurable experience.

Ants are known to increase pest populations.

Let me begin by asking you a question: what do ants like to eat? You probably already know the answer if you’ve ever spilled a soda or a bag of candies on the sidewalk. Sugar.

Guess what aphids (along with mealybugs, scale, whiteflies, and other sap-sucking parasites) generate in their normal state? Yep. Sugar, in the form of “honeydew,” is a sticky liquid excretion (yuck, right?).

The important thing is that, similar to how humans raise cows, ants raise aphids, shielding them from predators so they can “milk” honeydew from them. They’ll then return to the nest with the honeydew to share with the queen and the other workers. Aphids are sometimes moved by ants to their nest or to healthier plants.

How Do Compost Piles Work?

How do I keep ants out of my compost bin?

A compost bin is a container where organic waste is placed to decompose over time. Some bins are continual, meaning you can add waste to them at any time, while others make batches of compost with a specific mix of elements that you add all at once.

Even if there is no housing, the same process will occur over time in compost piles or a compost heap. You can, however, speed up the breakdown process by using a bin. 

Why Are There Ants in Your Compost? What Attracts Them?

The activities we do to maintain and care for our gardens frequently have the unintended consequence of attracting ants.

The composter, which converts plant matter into fertilizer, also attracts ants by disseminating delicious scents from banana peels, melon rinds, and other fruits and vegetables.

Maintain a heated compost pile by employing the right ratio of green and brown elements to combat this. Ant infestations can be easily avoided by using an elevated compost bin.

How do I keep ants out of my compost bin?

Compost and composted soil cycle as a composting pile of rotting kitchen scraps

If you leave an open bin with all sorts of leftover food scraps from your kitchen, then what do you think will happen? You would have basically thrown a party for the ants, and they would love you for it. However, this party will amount to a big-time nuisance for you.

The best shot you have at avoiding this situation is to close the bin with a lid that fits the bin and locks it properly enough so that the ants cannot enter.

Will Ants Kill My Compost Worms?

Compost bins with worms, that include a variety of organic waste products, are naturally a fantastic area for ants to attack, and if the conditions are correct, this can go on for a long time.

Although ants are omnivorous, the majority of species specialize in certain meals and will not hurt the worms. Some ants only consume meats and fats, while others choose sugary fruits, leaves, or seeds, and many more eat a combination of the above.

If you don’t mind the ants stealing some of your worm’s food and you have plenty of worm food to keep your compost worms fed, it might be alright to ignore the ants and let them have their portion.

Only a few ant species are likely to attack the worms directly. However, if they do, it might have disastrous consequences for your worm population.

What are the Different Ants You May Find in the Compost?

Black ants in compost

There is a good chance that your compost bin will end up with a variety of ants and not just one species. This is why knowledge about the various kinds of ants is necessary so that you know what you are dealing with.

Ants that build Mounds

If you encounter mound-building ants in your compost bin, then be prepared that they may come inside in quest of food and water. These ants construct mounds in lawns, mulch areas, sidewalks, patios, decks, and foundations. Controlling mound-building ants necessitates the use of outdoor remedies.

Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants build their nests in walls, attics, and rotting or water-damaged timber. Sheds, firewood, decks, tree trunks, gutters, and soffits are all common places to find outdoor nests.

There is a great chance that you may find this ant in your compost bin. They don’t eat wood, but they do nest and tunnel in it, causing it to degrade faster. If you try to pick up a carpenter ant, it will bite you, but it will not be as painful as a fire ant sting.

Fire ants

These are other commonly found ants residing and feeding on compost from a compost bin.

Fire ants usually build their nests outside and are distinguished by their characteristic mounds. They bite, but they also have a stinger on their abdomen that they employ to inject venom into anything that comes close to their nest or disturbs them.

Their stings are extremely painful, and several stings may necessitate medical treatment.

Is It Safe To Apply Chemical Ant Repellent To Compost?

Chemicals are something no organic grower wants to introduce even if in the form of ant deterrent, and having them arrive via compost seems like the ultimate betrayal.

Even if the chemical repellant is — herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides — end up in your compost pile, many of them decompose into harmless molecules during the composting process.

However, several do not, including several that have become increasingly popular in recent years. Thus, if you have to absolutely use chemicals in order to get rid of the ants, then go ahead, by all means.

However, you need to make sure to carry out thorough research before you finalize the chemical you will bring to usage.

Summary

A nuisance like ants in your compost bin can be slightly discouraging, however, do not forget that ants may come to good use as well. Unless you have a vast infestation you do not need to worry too much. In fact, you can quite easily manage the ants in your compost bin with only your presence of mind.

FAQs

Do ants eat worms?

Although most ants will not consume a live worm, they may devour a dead earthworm. Ants can be predatory and attack earthworms. Carpenter ants, red fire ants, and army ants are among the ants which will attack warms.

Do coffee grounds repel ants?

Caffeine has a strong effect on ants and can be successfully used to control ants. The worker ants are confused by this safe material because their scent trails are lost. If you leave coffee grounds near an ant colony, the ants will carry it to their place, eat it, and die.

Does lime kill ants?

Ants are not killed by the compounds in lime. Ants, on the other hand, despise lime and will go to great lengths to avoid it. And if you scatter it throughout your lawn, the ants may as well relocate next door.