Ants are better than their reputation because they take over important functions. If they become a plague, goodwill is lost. But mass gatherings of ants have a special reason. It is important to uncover this reason, because only in this way can an improvement occur.
Living space garden
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Ants turn out to be true survival artists because they populate the most diverse habitats on earth. They survive temperatures down to minus 28 degrees Celsius without any problems and can endure heat waves of 50 degrees. The insects are found in forests, bushes, and fields. They like shady and humid habitats as well as dry and warm open land. The garden also offers attractive conditions, but too many ants in the garden are usually perceived as a plague.
Why do ants come into the garden?
The reason for ant colonies in the garden is the optimal living environment. Species that settle in the garden prefer patchy vegetation forms with access to the substrate. Ants living in woods often migrate from adjacent woods into the garden. Ants, which have specialized in wood, find optimal living spaces in primitive gardens with old trees. Often the louse infestation of cultivated plants is also responsible for the settlement of an ant colony.
Useful or harmful?
Whether ants in the garden are good or bad varies from case to case. In principle, the state-forming insects take over important tasks in the ecosystem. They contribute to a balance in nature. They remove waste and exterminate dead animals.
Ants feed on insect or snail eggs and drag caterpillars into their nest to supply the brood. They are also important seed spreaders and promote the survival of various plants. Earth-dwelling ant species ensure that the ground is aerated. They counteract the soil compaction through their activities. This aspect is also beneficial in the garden.
Ants in the food chain:
- Green woodpecker: eats between 3,000 and 5,000 ants per day.
- Ant lions: Larvae have specialized in ant hunting.
- Predatory bugs imitate pheromones and prey on ants on specially created ant trails.
This genus includes large ants, which reach a body length of ten millimeters. The species build earth and hill nests and prefer living in the forest. Formica species belong to the omnivores and keep the forest floor clean. Hill-building forest ants enjoy special protection. Numerous species are endangered and are on the red list. The Red Wood Ant can also settle in the garden if it is located near a forest.
This is what the Red Wood Ant likes:
- sunny places at the edge of a wood;
- Insects, larvae, caterpillars, and arachnids as well as carcasses and honeydew;
- rotten tree stumps.
Ants of the genus Myrmica are medium-sized and build their nests both in dead wood and in the substrate. A common species in the garden is the red garden ant, which prefers humid conditions. It colonizes moss-covered lawns, which grow higher. Its nests can be recognized as earth accumulations on lawn edges or in the middle of the area. The insects have a striking brownish-red coloration.
- aggressive behavior in case of nest disturbance;
- are grouped into ant clusters during floods;
- have a poison sting.
The only species that are considered native north of the Alps is the yellow thief ant. It prefers warmth-favorable locations with flat ground. The species builds its nests in the sandy ground with dry conditions and sparse vegetation. Dry grasslands and rocky soils offer optimal conditions. In the central and southern USA, where the species occurs more frequently due to the favorable climate, the yellow ants can also occur in urban settlement areas. They are a rather rare guest in the garden.
Black and brown-black horse ants are the largest species in Central Europe. They are dark in color and grow up to 18 millimeters long. The species are tree dwellers and colonize deadwood. In rare cases, the species can be observed in gardens that provide old fruit trees or rotten fence posts as habitats.
An intact garden is always colonized by ants. To maintain ant-free gardens, you would have to use poison. This not only causes the ant population to suffer but also has a massive impact on your health and the natural balance in the garden. If you destroy the ant colony, the symptoms will disappear for a short time. The cause remains.
Why It Is Pointless To Fight Them
Ants are territorial. When they have found a territory, they defend it against other ant colonies and young ants. In district fights, the defenders kill immigrated ants and eat them. As soon as you intervene in these processes, the natural cycle is disturbed. The end of one colony means a new beginning for the next colony. If a building has been abandoned, new ants will migrate and colonize the garden after a short time.
Unsuitable Household Remedies
Baking powder and vinegar are effective under certain conditions. In the garden, however, these products have no place. The soil absorbs the substances faster than ants do. Coffee is also a widespread means of scaring off ants. This seems to work differently and is probably due to the smell. If you scatter coffee grounds with a particularly strong smell directly onto the ants’ nest, a deterrent effect is possible. However, the aromas quickly evaporate and the effect is lost.
Tips For Distribution And Prevention
Ants can be driven away completely naturally and without poison, if you have a little patience. The measures are effective as long as you use them regularly. If necessary, use several methods, because not all ant species react equally well to the adverse effects.
Ants like constant conditions. If their nests are disturbed, the brood is in danger. The insects react to it in that they resettle with its brood. If you discovered a nest in the bed, you can press the earth firmly daily or sting it with a stick into the earth. The walks are filled up through it and the ants look for a new precinct with continuous disturbances.
Many earth-dwelling ants are dependent on humid conditions. However, they cannot rear any brood in durably wet ground. Flooding of the walks helps with some types to avert them. However, many ants get along well with heavy rain and show themselves unimpressed by this measure.
Fighting Food Sources
Ants settle where there is enough food available. Both earth-dwelling ants and ants living above ground often feed on honeydew. If you find a nest in the bed or on the lawn, the plants are most likely affected by root lice. Above-ground nests are often found near plants where aphids live. To get rid of the ants, you should fight the cause of their occurrence:
- Hosing down aphids with water;
- Fighting root lice with Rainfarnbrühe;
- Strengthen plants with nettle liquid manure.
Garden paths should be laid out so that they appear unattractive to ants. Basalt chippings are more suitable for the subsoil than paving sand. Seal joints are made of synthetic resin-based paving mortar. There are good products that are water-permeable and effectively suppressants and weeds.
- Ants in bed and lawn do not cause any damage. But they show that there is something wrong with the plants. Where ants appear, lice are not far away. Earth-dwelling species feed on the honeydew that root lice secrete. Above-ground ants often aim at the secretions of aphids. Instead of fighting the ants, you should deprive them of their food source and eliminate the lice infestation.
- Coffee grounds are a natural remedy that effectively repels ants. However, the method does not always work, because the coffee aroma quickly fades and not all species react equally well to the substance. If the nest in the bed is disturbing, a massive disturbance can promise help. Poke regularly into the ground with a stick until the ants find an alternative place to live. Do not eliminate ants. The insects are part of the ecosystem and cannot be eradicated in the garden
- Several species of ants come into the garden for different reasons. Forest ants stray into the human habitat when the forest is in the immediate vicinity. Many ants find optimal feeding conditions in gardens because cultivated plants are often attacked by lice. Lawns offer good habitat conditions for ants living underground. They appreciate the humid environment between patchy vegetation.
- Insects are an important part of the ecosystem. It makes no difference whether it is a garden or a forest. Ants ensure that dead organic material is decomposed. They clean up the soil and aerate the substrate by digging tunnels. Ants are an important source of food for numerous living creatures. They are eaten by woodpeckers, predatory bugs, or ant lions.
- There are tropical plants that have specialized in a correlation with ants. They provide food and habitat for insects. In return, ants protect the plants from predators. Such a symbiosis can also be observed in cherry laurel. The shrub has two glands on each leaf stalk, which give off a sugary plant sap. When the production is running at full speed in spring, the woody plants are overrun by ants. These ants protect their food suppliers by driving away plant pests.
- Dwindling light, sinking temperatures, and food shortages force ants to hibernate. To survive the frosty temperatures, they have to defecate. The loss of fluid causes the remaining body fluids to thicken and frostbite is prevented. Many ant species hibernate in different stages. Both larvae and workers and queens spend the winter in the protection of the nest. Only the forest ants spend the winter as adult insects.