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    I recently joined this course (yesterday; I’ve only watched the first lecture so far) and I liked the idea of living to help the environment around. To live with the thinking that nature isn’t just a grab bag resource and that there are ethics even when it comes to other creatures (even PLANTS!!). My dilemma is over an ant colony I found in my front yard. They seem like stereotypical ants (probably native to my region (the Bay Area, CA (the parentheses-thing is getting really redundant, I know))). While we do have some ant infestations, I think they are more from the ants being able to take advantage of my family’s sloppiness and lack of attention to house deeds. There’s no invasion right now and they seem to be occupying one sole brick box in my front yard. I forget what I did a week ago, but I bet they’re still there. They don’t seem to be harmful even though I’ve lived around these ants my entire life and they will sting if you put them in your mouth. What do y’all think I should do: perhaps get my family to be more hygienic and preserve their abode? Are they a threat I should worry about? If that’s true, how should I take action? I shall try to get back to you guys over whether they’re native or not, but feel free to tell me in detail what you’re thinking (but I do feel like you guys know which ant species I’m talking about)l



    BTW: they’re located under a valley oak I have and could possibly use that tree and a few other trees in my garden. I doubt they’re a threat to these trees, but how do you feel?



    I’m starting out the course too, but I don’t think ants would be a threat to your trees. We live in a rural area in France and have several and colonies in our front yard with different kinds depending on the colony! Our trees have not suffered. And strangely, I almost never see ants in the house. . .

    My understanding is that ants actually are good for the soil because they dig around in it. Drawbacks can be if they go after certain fruits or veggies in your garden. Or steal your seeds–this actually happened to me in one spot, I literally saw the ants making off with the seeds in one spot and just can’t get much to grow from seed there.

    One thing, be careful of how you ‘get rid of’ the ant colony. I remember at my parents’ place in California once they decided to get rid of one, I think by drowning it, if I remember right. Anyhow, the ants just changed homes and my parents had quite a bad ant infestation that year!

    Maybe you can just put ant traps around your house or around the routes they travel toward your house to keep them out.



    Free housecleaners! No more worrying about those pesky crumbs that fall through the cracks of the deck! Ants will likely help to control truly destructive insect pests around your home. And if seed theft becomes a problems, the seeds can be rolled into theft-resistant clay balls.



    Carpenter ants can be extremely destructive, but even they play there part in the Great Drama. I don’t really like telling people this because of my love for them, but if there is a real threat, give the ants dried baking yeast. They will take it back into their colony and feed it to the queen, where it dehydrates the ant from the inside.



    here in the south, fire ants are almost everywhere and crazy ants (nylanderia fulva) are starting to show up

    the fire ants do get on my vegetables and other plants, but i don’t ever really do anything about it, i’m not going to dump poison on the mounds like everyone else around here does


    Big Ears

    It sounds like you have ants But you don’t have an ant problem.
    They are in your yard. Thats where ants live. Live and let live. The brick box is probably being used as an incubator for their eggs.
    When they start bringing eggs into the house walls, cupboards and ceilings, you have a problem because they damage stuff and they invite the in-laws to stay as well.
    If you see the trails in the hundreds going into the house and they’re not just visiting your honey jar that’s the time to take action. But killing the whole nest will mean your yard will become vacant and the next residents might be noisier than the ants.



    I had ants in my garden last year they really did’t hurt my plants until they started to make a perfect living area for aphids. I understand that ants and aphids go hand in hand. It got pretty bad for a moment and I had to actually hose down leaves it worked but it was a real battle.



    Carpenter ants can be destructive to any wood including trees. Also…read up on how ants use aphids in your garden. They actually care for them and milk them of nectar. I guess they have there place but i try to keep them out of my garden.



    I have ants in my severely neglected garden. I live 1km from the coast in Mandurah, Western Australia. They seem to like living around the bricks pile we have and in between the concrete slabs. The soil hasn’t been touched in over 30 years except for a vigorous Ivy (Hedera Helix) nearby. I would be happy to leave them be but my clothesline is above their hangout and when they see me they like to crawl up my legs and bite! I saw someone suggested dry yeast. I guess I can try to get rid of them but if there was a away I could attract them away from the clothesline and to somewhere I’m less likely to get bitten, we could live in peace and harmony together :). Can anyone suggest plant life I could introduce that they could be attracted to?



    Hi Belida,

    Further to Nadia and Trisha, we have a severe outdoor ant problem. I have had to put ant powder down in the house… it took 3 summers of application to finally stop them from returning, but it worked. Outdoors they are desperate for any liquid they can find because we are sooooo very dry here in the summers and harvesting aphids to drink their sugary urine is ideal for them. If your summers aren’t dry you shouldn’t have any problems with them outdoors, but keep an eye on aphids. Good luck.



    ?…ooops, I meant, Hi Michael in the post above…. Hi Michael !



    I sprinkled borox around the places where I saw ants coming into our house. It certainly stopped them coming inside. After awhile, I stopped noticing them in the garden too. Will have to wait till the snow melts to see if they are still around.



    I use diatomaceous earth for any pest problems. I know last year I thought the ants wouldn’t hurt the one garden that they were in but when the aphids started showing up and destroying my crop I had to get rid of all of them. Diatomaceous earth is not expensive and works on most pest and is non toxic.



    I’ve had my share of ant problems. In Belize and Guatemala we have lots of leaf cutter ants. I love them cuz they’re cool. They farm fungus underground with the leaves they harvest.

    Unfortunately they can destroy a garden in no time and do a lot of damage to the trees. They never fully kill a tree, just take all the leaves, but if you were hoping for fruits, then you’ll have to wait til the tree can regenerate itself.

    Diatomaceous earth as Georgene mentions is great stuff! I’ve used it many times for ants, flees, and any other insects. Usually I sprinkle it along the edges of the house. Outside though, it is not as effective unless you use a lot and completely surround whatever you are trying to protect. I haven’t haven’t found any success using it with leafcutter ants because they are big, badass ants that find ways around it. They’ll sacrifice some of their numbers to make paths through or over it. I think it would work against them if I had massive amounts of it, but it’s not worth the investment to wage that battle. I just try to psychically encourage them to leave my trees and plants alone, or go eat other plants and trees.

    I read in a mushroom book by Paul Stamets about a type of fungus that you can use that will kill an ant colony. I don’t remember all the details, but apparently the ants love it so much, they take it to their queen, and she loves it so much until it fungifies and kills her. Sounds cool if you can get the spores from somewhere. It could be considered a companion fungus for your garden 😉

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