You have a lot of black, red or even flying ants on the compost and you don’t know if this is good or bad?
Also, you are probably wondering what to do about ants on the compost?
All these questions about ants in the composter, I answer you in this article.
Ants in the compost are a sign of too dry compost and too little moisture or wetness. To control ants in the compost, the compost should first be watered and fresh humus added and mixed well. Also, more wet waste, such as rotten fruit or vegetables, should be composted to avoid providing ants with a good habitat in the compost. If, despite all measures, ants are still present in the compost, it should be moved and rearranged.
Why do I have ants in the composter?
If you have a lot of ants in your compost, it is a clear sign that your compost is too dry and lacks moisture.
Ants prefer dry and warm habitats where they feel comfortable, nest and reproduce. Perhaps you have seen an ant hill in a meadow? There you will recognize that this heap is usually also dust-dry and consists of loose, crumbly material.
A compost that is too dry provides all these conditions and thus the perfect location for ants.
- You can recognize a too dry compost besides the ant infestation by the following characteristics:
- The rotting, i.e. the decomposition process, has come to a standstill.
- The compost has a cracked, loose and crumbly structure.
- There is little cohesion between the different compost layers
- You see few to no isopods or worms in the compost
- Dry nests, with white mold edges, may have formed
Are ants in the compost good or bad?
Whether ants in the compost are good or bad depends on the number of ants and the associated general condition of the compost heap.
Just like other small creatures and animals in the compost, ants are something natural to begin with.
So if you spot some ants on the compost from time to time, it shouldn’t be a problem. Provided the rotting continues and the compost decomposes over time.
However, if the number of ants in the compost gets out of hand and you determine from the above factors that your compost is too dry, then it’s time to act.
Because too many ants indicate a dry compost where the decomposition process has come to a halt. This means that the compost then no longer “works” and does not decompose.
In addition, ants and earthworms sometimes compete for food. Ants eat mainly small insects and plant juices, which is also on the menu of earthworms, among others.
So if you have a lot of ants on the compost, they could eat away the food of the earthworms, which would be another reason for the earthworms to retreat from the compost besides the drought.
However, earthworms on the compost are important workers in the decomposition process, in which ants, however, play no role.
Ants in the compost, what to do?
Now that you know for sure that your compost is too dry and has too many ants, the question is what to do about ants on the compost?
There are quite a few different remedies for ants on the compost, which I have listed below:
Watering compost against ants
The simplest solution against ants on compost is to water it.
You can do this either with rainwater from the barrel or with the garden hose.
However, the main thing is that the entire compost is soaked and stays so. At the beginning and when it is not raining at the moment, it is best to water the compost a little every day.
The goal should be to keep the compost so moist that it feels like a wrung out sponge.
Compost wet waste to keep ants away
Once you have watered the compost so that it has enough moisture again, you should also make sure that it stays that way in the long run.
To do this, you should compost enough wet or moist waste in the future to keep the compost pile moist.
This includes damp lawn clippings or damp leaves or damp or wet kitchen waste such as rotten fruit, vegetables or even cucumber water.
Mix in fresh humus
In addition to wet waste, you can also take a few scoops of fresh humus (perhaps from a second compost) and mix it in with your dry compost.
This has two advantages:
- The compost gets moisture, which drives away ants
- Worms and other microorganisms that have taken flight in the dry compost come back into the compost with a load of fresh humus and start the rotting process, so ants continue to stay away.
To keep your compost moist in the long term, you should make sure that both moist and dry materials are always well mixed.
In this way, you prevent dry nests in which ants can settle in the compost.
Scents or essential oils against ants
To drive away ants in the compost, you can also use various fragrances or essential oils that ants do not like to smell.
These include lavender, thyme, cinnamon, marjoram, chili or cloves.
You can easily cut lavender, thyme or marjoram into small pieces and spread them in the compost or on ant trails.
You can dissolve cinnamon or chili in hot water (about 1 tablespoon of powder to a liter of water) and then spray it on ant nests or the compost with a spray bottle.
Scents and essential oils can also help against flies on the compost in a similar way to ants. If you want to know what other remedies help against flies on the compost pile, check here.
Turn compost to get rid of ants
If everything does not help against the ants on the compost, then you should turn it.
Because when you turn it, the different layers are reversed and the whole compost is mixed. In this way, dry materials mix better with moist materials and the compost is loosened up so that moisture can better reach all places again.
What to do against ant eggs in the compost?
Ant eggs in the compost can be combated with the same means as adult ants in the composter.
Once ants feel comfortable in the compost, they lay their eggs there. To get rid of ant eggs in the compost, the habitat for ants in the compost must be destroyed.
This means that the compost must no longer be so dry and must become moister or wetter.
To do this, you can simply follow the tips above, i.e. water the compost, add wet waste and mix everything thoroughly, including a few shovels of fresh humus.
Flying ants in the compost, what to do?
Against flying ants in the compost can be applied the same measures that help against normal ants in the compost.
This is because flying ants are nothing more than sexually mature males and females that begin their nuptial flight in May.
So if you have flying ants in the compost it is quite good at first, because these specimens will most likely fly out very soon. After mating, the males will die and the females will look for new sites.
Nevertheless, this means that you have ants on the compost that have grown there.
So to control flying ants you should get rid of the existing ant nests on the compost, among other things by watering the compost, composting more wet waste, mixing in fresh humus or using scents or essential oils against ants.
What to do against red ants in compost?
Red ants are hunters and omnivores and one of the most common ant species in Central Europe.
Just like other ant species, red garden ants prefer dry warm habitats, such as compost. So, just like other ants, you can control red garden ants in compost by depriving them of their dry habitat.
To get rid of red ants in the compost, keep the compost moist (water, compost wet waste, mix in fresh humus and mix everything well) or drive away red ants with scents or essential oils.
Are ants in compost harmful?
Ants in compost are quite natural in small quantities and are not harmful at first.
However, if the number of ants increases, i.e. if there are no longer just isolated ants, but entire ant trails and nests on the compost, then ants are on the one hand symptoms of a compost that is too dry, but can also be harmful to other compost animals and thus to the decomposition process.
This is because ants and earthworms, for example, have partly the same prey pattern and feed on small insects and plant juices, among other things.
If there are too many ants, the earthworms, which are absolutely necessary for the decomposition of the compost, are deprived of food, which is therefore harmful to the compost.