Ants nest in a compost bin. The white material is shredded paper.
Many people worry about having ants in their compost heap but ants contribute to the composting process by bringing fungi, and other organisms, into their nests as well as introducing minerals e.g. phosphorus and potassium.
Ants feed on a range of food including aphid honeydew (produced by aphids from plant sap excreting), fungi, seeds, scraps and insects some of which are found in the compost heap. Compost provides some of these foods and it provides shelter for ants nests
when cold composting techniques are being used or during the maturation stages of hot composting when the compost has cooled. Several species found in the UK including Lasius, Myrmica and Formica species
nests can be beneficial in a compost heap as they increase the biodiversity by bringing insects and fungi into their nests and their tunnels can assist airflow.
If the compost is almost finished it can be part containing
the ant colony can be removed and spread on the garden where the ants will probably disappear with a few days. If there are only a few ants I would normally leave them if they or the nest are taking over the bin probably the simplest way to get rid of
them is to douse the nest with cold water. This will have the advantage of increasing the moisture level of the compost as ants are often found in compost which is on the dry side.
It is also suggested that sprinkling
coffee grounds or cornmeal onto the nest will discourage them
Ants are less welcome in a wormery. They are omnivorous and will not normally harm the worms,
but they will compete with the worms for the food. If there are relatively few ants, provided you adding enough food to keep the worms supplied as well as allowing the ants their share it might be acceptable to just ignore the ants and let them co-exist. Allowing
the ants to compete for food may result in the worms becoming malnourished as the ants will compete for the sugars and fats in the feedstuff which are essential to the development in of the worms. Not removing the worms also means that when handling the compost
your hands and arms are likely get covered with ants and some might take the worm eggs (cocoons) which will impact on the breeding programme.
Where ants have infested a stacking wormery it is possible to remove the trays
containing most of the ants and the nest, disturb them using the hand fork and leave them exposed to the light which will further encourage them to leave. It should also be possible to hunt through the nest to find and remove the Queen. (Gloves should be worn)
The Queen will be much bigger than the other ants.
It is said that sprinkling cinnamon cause the ants to disperse making it easier to remove the nest.
is that the presence of an ant’s nest is an indication of dry bedding. Although there are several cases on Internet forums where people state that their moist wormeries have been invaded.
The moisture level can be
measure using a meter of estimate by squeezing the compost in the hand (Compost Moisture ) but it is probably safest to assume that the bedding is on the dry side and
moisten it is using a water spray and turn it with a trowel or hand fork to disrupt ant colonies. Continue this process for a few days and most ants will move to a new home.
As ants invade wormeries to gain access
to readily available food an invasion may suggest a review of the amount of food provided is necessary to ensure that the worms are not being overfed. Too much food left in the wormery may increase the acidity of the bedding which makes
it more attractive to ants and less favourable to worms.
Ideally the bedding should be as close to neutral (ph7). If the bedding is acidic many suppliers of wormeries recommend the addition of a small quantity of lime. (which
they sell!). Some suppliers recommend treating the wormery with a small handful of lime every month, but this view is not shared by all.
Preventative is better than cure.
One of the simplest ways of preventing ants occupying the wormery is to surround the wormery, or its legs, with water. With a bin on legs each of the legs can be stood in
a dish or a coffee jar of water to which a little washing up liquid has been added to reduce the surface tension. Some recommend the use of mineral oil rather than water.
a commercially available ant goo, a sticky substance that is painted around the stems of rose bushes to trap ants can be used this is said to be eco-friendly and does not contain any insecticide poisons Vaseline can also be smeared round
These techniques will not only exclude ants but other creeping and crawling creatures as well, so it should only be used where ants are a problem.