Ants in the Compost Pile

by Annie

Ant on Peony

Ant on Peony

I have tiny black ants in my compost pile, should I use diatomaceous earth on them, something else or are they helping my compost break down?

Photo courtesy of TMJR. Thank you.

The Compost Gardener Answer:

I love ants - except for fire ants so I usually leave them alone. When they show up in your compost pile it is because the pile is too dry.

Your compost should be wet as a squeezed out sponge ideally. The compost will stop breaking down altogether if it gets too dry - and the ants move in.

To get the ants to move on all you have to do is stir things up a little and then wet them down.
Almost always the ants will relocate. Mine usually move about four feet away and set up shop again within about 24 hours.

Diatomaceous earth does a number on just about all insects and they do have a role in shredding your compost bits up so that they break down better.

Ants are tremendous earth movers. For example ants in a Massachusetts field move enough soil each year to cover the surface with 2 mm of soil - equivalent to 30 tone per acre.

In Europe the wood ants are protected species. Each day during the summer months a nest of a million wood ants bring at least 100,000 insects into their hungry colonies.

Some ants are famous for their composting. They build underground compost piles which are carefully tended and then seeded with fungi crops grown to feed the colony.

Thanks for your question. Ants are fascinating and almost always garden allies. However, most gardeners are quick to attempt to get rid of these creatures.

Kind Regards

I have ants in my compost pile too.
by: Nayana

Thanks Ann for asking this question.

I too have the same problem with ants and now know what to do.

Thanks Leslie for answering the question.

Have a great day!

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