Ants in Compost Pile

by celia jessup
(Arnoldsville Ga)

I have a nice compost pile and have used it often. Great to add to red clay for planting. I now have ants in the pile. Is it ok to continue using the compost? Will the ants hurt the plants I plant?

Thank you.

Whys and Wherefores of Ants

So I checked the rainfall in your area and it looks like you've had a pretty dry July. When you end up with ants moving into your compost it often indicates your compost is on the dry side.

Check that. You should probably water your compost. I also find that shaking things up a bit tends to encourage ants to move on. So you could fluff up your compost while adding water and at least reduce the number of ants in the compost before spreading it.

Now will ants damage your plants?

Ants are primarily foragers. Their role in the garden is bringing bits of organic matter into their nests - ergo down into the soil. Dead and decaying matter is their specialty. They're kind of composting wizards.

As they bring material down they are digging tunnels - building a network of pathways for water to flow into the soil and for roots to grow.

Unless they are actually eating your house, i.e. carpenter ants in the house, or biting you, they are most likely going to be an asset.

They're good for your garden and soil, helpful in turning soil especially bringing subsoil material into the topsoil and bringing decaying matter down into the subsoil. They will move your compost into position without any help from you. With your red clay soil that's a big bonus!

Certain ants are also pollinators and they spread seeds.

In other words Ants Are Almost Always Awesome.


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