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Ants in compost bin

My compost bin had been left untouched for a while and when I finally went to sort it out found it was a mound of seething ants. Being a lady of a delicate constitution it freaked me out somewhat!!! I threw in lots of ant powder and slammed on the lid. A while later and with some trepidation I peeked in and all seemed quiet and still. My dilemma is what to do now. Is it still compost that I can spread on the garden, or will it have become an ant nest full of dead ants? In that case how do I dispose of it? Could someone help please.


  • Oh dear Lilly - we'll have to toughen you up a bit image  The ants probably adopted your compost bin because it was nice and dry in there and they thought they'd be undisturbed image Just turning the compost and damping it down a bit would probably have made them move out - but they're not doing any harm in there anyway.  They were probably keeping it aerated which helps the composting process.

    Anyway, what to do for now?  Is the compost made - is it crumbly and lovely and ready to spread on your garden? If so, then mix it all about and use it as you'd intended to.

     If it's not yet composted, then mix it all about and continue adding composting materials as normal.  Turn it regularly and occasionally add a little of Bob Flowerdew's highly recommended recycled beer/cider .... or if that's not available recycled Chardonnay will do image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • lilly3lilly3 Posts: 52
    Thanks for the advice Dove fromabove. I've just had a look at it and given it a good prod with the fork. I thought it would be a nest but appears to be quite hard packed half cooked compost. I've not been keeping it damp enough as you suggest, so will follow your advice and hopefully the ants won't come back.
  • Mike FridayMike Friday Posts: 83

    My bin gets colonised with Ants even when the compost is damp. I topped up my bin with a few sacks of shedded material 2 days ago; it's currently 60 degrees centigrade in the centre, and masses of Ants have appeared.  The thing that gets me is how so many can appear in such a short space of time - and where do they all come from!


  • BrummieBenBrummieBen Posts: 460

    I always hope ants use my daleks as nest sites or better still nurseries for the flying ant brigade, yes flying ants are a pain for a day or two a year, but the compost from them is amazing.. They make so much air go through the heap, get all sorts of fantastic bacteria and it breaks the heap down so much quicker, these guys should be encouraged. I make a point of never shifting the heap when they are busy with the swarm, every year they come back and I am rewarded with fantastic compost, super crumbley and better than anything you can buy.. Yes ants are bad in the house, but I would encourage them to the compost heap everytime, they provide air, and everyone knows that a well turned compost heap breaks down quicker, this is due to the air you are introducing. So if you have thousands of tiny tunnels through your heap, probably a lot more air introduced than using a fork, oh, and a lot less effort!

  • Does it work with Pinot Grigio?

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,262

    It even works with recycled cola .!!. 

    Any kind or urine added to a heap keeps it damp and adds nitrogen to speed the composting process.

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,167

    Brummie Ben, thank you for that information.

    Lilly3, it is probably better not to use ant powder as you will probably kill all the other little creatures that actually make the compost. If you can bear it, just follow brummie ben's advice.image

    I would only put chemicals into a bin if there is a wasp's nest there.

  • Well fidgetbones my Pinot is a bit passed it, but I'll go with the flow!

  • My dalek is quite hot at the moment and the ants are having a great time converting veg material to wholesome compost! The recycled Cotes du Rhone helps though.

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