Just moved into an old house... huge ANT nest in flower bed :)

We just moved into an old house, the garden is full of moss, weeds (and daffodills!image)... I noticed lines of ants running up the driveway for a while but thought nothing more of it.

I have been de-weeding some of the flower beds (quite tricky around the daffs!), but there is one particular bed near the house that as I dug the weeds out, discovered it's full of ants. It looked/ felt like there was almost no soil in there and 80% ants. I aired the soil for a bit, and moved onto the next part, but it seems the ants nest goes along all 5 metres of the flower bed, near the house.

Perhaps not for the squeamish image Whilst weeding you couldn't see the fingers of my garden gloves, covered in black ants, after they were starting to get a bit much on my arms and face, I stopped the weeding. I've seen ants of this concentration in large forest ant hills in europe, but not in a UK garden until now.

I'm all in favour of having an eco-system in the garden, but is there anything I can or should do about that particular bed? I'm not sure how any plants will survive there as it's an underground ant cavern image

Just out of interest, I've noticed quite a lot of large house spiders running around outside the house in that area, I guess this must be what they're enjoying! image Actually I hadn't realised they feed on ants.. is it possible?

I hope I don't sound like a meanie but I'm not sure the situation can stay the way it is, I look forward to advice, thanks image



  • I too found an absolutely enormous (but hopefully no as big as yours) nest yesterday, so I'm watching this with interest.

    Mine is around a fence post and running behind three upright paving slabs, which retain next doors patio, which is c. 0.5 m higher than ours. My ants sem to be extending - they had uprooted one of my young sweet pea plants last night! God knows how far under the garden they go - I stopped digging once I saw the baby ants image


  • Paper Flowers, I would have kept digging, the baby ants would be a nice snack for the birds.

    I think in both cases it would have been out with the ant powder for me, a friend had this happen once, and didn't do anything about it until they moved into his house - I'm not joking, his white UPVC kitchen door was literally black with them.  He's particularly squeamish, so he called rentokil or some other such pest controller, I'd see how to go with ant powder.  Rentokil were particularly helpful when I rang to complain one of their electric traps had malfunctioned (red light was flashing, bloody mouse still alive, don't know who was most surprised, me or the mouse), and asked for advice about getting rid of them (we still get the occaisonal refugee at harvest time), we are quite rural where we are (edge of village) and the farmer has been prosecuted for throwing all sorts onto his dung heap (dead chickens, pigs, you name it, it's been on there).  Farmer still in business, but now built a 10foot wall around his premises, and the stench coming from there on some days is unbearable - anyway, that's for the rant thread.  I think I'd buy some ant powder, and then ring the helpline number on there, to make sure it's OK to use on flowerbeds. 

    I'd do it TODAY, you really don't want the problems my friend had getting rid of the ants (or the bill for it).  I'd also be concerned about foundations if they're nesting right next to / underneath your house!

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,060

    Spread it out and pour boiling water over the site. No poisons involved. There were a lot of ant hills last year, probably trying to stay above water

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,142

    My father had sandy soil and ants were a nuisance, he a quiet kindly man would pour petrol round the nest and drop a match on it, end of problem, we had no H&S back then though.


  • I've whipped out the ant powder and squirted (puffed??) liberally all over what I exposed and down into the as many holes as I could see.

    MMP no way could I have kept on digging, there were so many ants and they actually SMELLED image imageimage. Not strong, but a definite odour. Yeah, my ants are definitely gonna have to go - they're 2m from the house, if not closer depending how much nest there is under ground.


  •  Hello chaps,

    apparently if you leave dried corn meal in their path they take it back and eat it and then it swells up and kills them off, I've not tried this myself so I can't say either way.

    However I did have a small to med sized nest last year near the veggie patch so put a few pots of mint around and about.... I think they just moved next door but hey.... not on my patch! image

  • Yes I've heard you can do the same thing with a 50:50 mix of baking soda and icing sugar. I assume ant powder is the same sort of thing though - they eat it and take it back the nest and feed it to their compatriots and die. I hope it's not meant to work instantly, cos there's a lot of white ants running around among my sweet peas and not dying as of yet...

    I shall try a kettle of boiling water next... Possibly infused with mint...


  • I have several in my front lawn, but i dont wory too much as i can weed the beds from the paths. When i ve been out there with the lawn mower i do notice there are more birds around. Other than that i would use boilig water.

  • I wouldn't recommend Frank's petrol answer - quick way to burn your hair off, or worse.

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,168

    My mother always used boiling water, but not on the earth as that would kill a lot of other organisms, but on concrete or terrace/ patio.

  • nightgardennightgarden Posts: 106

    I can't believe what is being suggested on here - boiling water ... fire ... poison? What's wrong with you all? Ants will do you no harm. If you want them to move you could just disturb the nest a little and they will upsticks and move on - leave a trail of something sweet at the same time to an area you don't mind them being.

    If that doesn't work whhy not ask for advice on the RSPB website or similar? No need to kill them.

  • nightgarden wrote (see)

    What's wrong with you all? Ants will do you no harm.

    Was waiting for this, had a reply ready. image

    Do ruining the lawn, making potholes that sink when you stand on them, spoiling your family's enjoyment of their garden, attracting infestation of spiders that make the wife afraid to live in her home & the possibility of undermining foundations not count as harm?

  • I have heard of a few ways too move them on. Planting mint (not sure if this will work for so many of them) and another way is to sprinkle pepper in and around their nest. I'm afraid they are hard to get rid of. We had loads of nests in our old garden but because it was a big garden I left them too it. I would do whatever you feel happy doing...I never used boiling water etc because it would have felt wrong but you sound as though you have a big infestation.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,870

    Ants really don't like wet soil, so as Verdun suggested - keep it very soggy.  I'd also open it up for the birds to get at.  We have very light soil at work, and get frequent visits from a family of green woodpeckers who spend hours at a time poking their bills into the lawn eating ants image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • TesniTesni Posts: 146

    Sounds like an unusually big ant nest, and a bit unnerving to be so close to the house. I think you should contact a local pest control company for advice.

  • VithVith Posts: 12

    I had them take over a large pot last year. Everything in it was dying because of the huge air chambers they dig beneath the soil. Like Verdun, I flooded them out with a hose and I had no more issues with them there. We'll see what happens this year! I understand what nightgarden is saying but they are destructive - they'd already laid waste to my rockery!


  • Has any one ever sat on a red ants nest? i have. Its not pleasant

  • I just read on the internet for small nests in grass to put a plant pot (ceramic) over the area and as it heats the lava and eggs will move to the top and you scrape the whole lot up and move it to a different site... this is eco friendly and does not kill them... not sure about the massive site you describe though!!!!!

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