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Ants in my compost bin

Hi all,

I have ants in my compost bin. Theres lots of flying ants too. Ive spent the past couple of weeks keeping the compost bin wet (using a watering can) and making more green deposits.

Today I spread some compost around my plants as a mulch, but theres so many ants scuttling about my veg that I stopped. I thought I better check on here whether Im compounding a problem. (such as whether theyll nibble my veg or build a new nest in my veg bed etc).

So should I use the compost - and and all! - in my veg beds or not?

How best to get rid of ants in a compost bin? (or is it not really an issue?)



  • FireFire Posts: 17,323
    edited June 2022
    I would say, ants in the compost bin isn't a problem. It doesn't suggest your compost is dry. They are happy in moist envs too. The ants will be eating and pooing and things will be eating them - which is the point of having a compost bin.

    I suppose that the ants will disperse once the earth is on the veg patch.

    Ants just love my soggy Hotbin, they seem to nest their constantly - the dampest of the five or so bins I run. If I ever want them to move on, I take the side off and dig out some earth and leave it for a while, giving them a chance to move the eggs etc. Going back in a few hours I usually find they have found another home as they do not like disturbance. On the whole I just leave them alone if I can help it.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,924
    They won't eat anything, but if you have ants in a compost bin, it suggests it's very dry.
    Ants like dry conditions for a nest. 
    The main danger to your veg would be if there are aphids for them to farm. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • tuffnelljohntuffnelljohn Posts: 274
    Ah I see - so theyre not a pest as such. Out of interest - what do they eat?

    Also, they dont bite or sting do they? (I know red ones do. And the wood ants in the local woodland do).

    The reason why I found the ants in the compost bin was becuase I had a dwarf plum tree in a container next to it. The ants were farming the aphids!! So I spent a few days on 'aphid watch' and sprayed the leaves daily with soapy water. I also moved the plum trees to the other side of the garden. So far so good!

    The veg Im using the compost as a mulch with are leeks and carrots, so perhaps aphids arent so keen on those.

  • Slow-wormSlow-worm Posts: 1,576
    Ants are brilliant for breaking the soil down, and very interesting to watch (if you're a tiny wildlife nerd). 
    They farm aphids on one of my hypericums, every year, it still grows and flowers. I'm not overly happy about it but it shows what a healthy plant it is.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,924
    I don't think they'd be a problem for your leeks and carrots.  :)
    The black ones mostly milk aphids, but harmless otherwise. Some species eat other insects as well. 
    I thought you'd meant they were nesting in your compost bin.  :)
    We hardly ever notice them here, and they don't cause problems of any kind. I get a few on the peony buds - because they're doing their thing with the sweet secretions  as they start to open. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,208
    Your observation about peony buds is interesting @Fairygirl - there were ants on our peony buds this year, and I looked around for aphids but couldn't find any.  Hadn't thought about sweet secretions on the flowers themselves.   :)

    I think ants will eat almost anything, with a preference for sweet things.  We once left a couple of slices of bread, crumbled up for the birds, outside a holiday cottage in Finland, then noticed the crumbs were all being collected and removed (presumably to their nest) by a large procession of ants.  I find them fascinating too, @Slow-worm ...   
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,924
    Yes - it's what attracts them @Liriodendron. Sometimes the buds get 'stuck' because of it. I don't think mine will have much on them this year - it'll be getting washed off. Peony's late anyway with the inclement weather last month. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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