Ants mound on compost pile

ibheriJanuary 29, 2012

Can you please suggest a way to get rid of the ants mound on my compost pile? I dump all my kitchen scrap into a pile in my yard. Today I noticed a big ants mound building up.. I don't want to use the regular ant killers. I read that sugar helps but never tried it.


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Those dang things really ticked me off! I didn't know they were there and started digging to put more fresh scraps in.. the pile EXPLODED with ants and my hands were covered before I realized what was happening. :( I had blisters from those bites. :(
This year was the first time I ever had ants in the pile. I had quit putting coffee grounds in there so I could put them directly on the plants instead.

I was so mad I went and got our ant killer stuff and made sure they were dead. I watered the heck out of that pile too. They're gone now, and I started putting the coffee grounds in the compost again.

If you aren't willing to use ant killer I don't know what to suggest except maybe water it real good. I think ants don't like all the moisture.

Good luck with it.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 12:14AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

I have that same issue, those bites are painful! I watered mine with a lot of water then poured a mixture of agricultural molasses and water. Didn't want to bring out the big gun insecticides because I use compost on edibles plus I thought that insecticides killed all your good microbes in the compost.They weren't there the next time I turned the pile but I am not sure if my remedy did the trick or they just vacated. They invade the compost after a heavy rain to avoid drowning and they invade the compost when it's dry for the moisture. I have scars on my feet, legs and hands from their bites!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 5:45AM
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pkponder have you tried soapy water? I found it washes off their waxy coating and they dehydrate and die. At least this has been my experience with soapy water in my garden. I seem to have be lucky with the fire ants as I used a garden hose to remove them as once you kill one they all will bit and sting. We have seen fire ants form a swarm and floated down the river after a heavy rain. They provide air to the swarm and survive the floods. Whereas soap breaks the water tension, this is the same process used for mosquitoes cannot surface and hatch.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 12:11PM
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If you can add enough new browns and greens, it might help to heat up the pile, which should help. Check the remedies below. If nothing else helps, a little Spinosad bait is better than regular pesticides.

Here is a link that might be useful: Organic Fire Ant Control

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 5:29PM
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thank you All. I will try the water treatment first. I am almost adding veggie scrap on a daily basis.

wally: when you say soapy wanter, what kind of soap do you use? Can I add lil dish ditergent (not the one for diswasher).

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 11:20AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Thanks for that information. I always have inexpensive dish soap in the garden cabinet...I'll try that before going out to harvest the compost.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 8:45AM
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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

FYI : dab on campho phenique as soon as they bite you. This will keep the bites from forming the "blisters".

I grew up in McAllen, TX. Fire ants were there in the early 1950's. Daddy told me to use campho phenique.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 6:01PM
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scotty66(8 Hutto TX)

pour some bleach (diluted) on fresh ant bite and it reduces the sting and blistering.

Here is a link that might be useful: ant bite remedies

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 1:10AM
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JimR36(5b CO)

I don't seem to have ants in my compost, even though there are lots of ants around. I keep the compost in a container though, and inside my garage, and never put anything sweet in it (not even fruit scraps).

Maybe use gloves, change the compost ingredients, use a shovel to move the compost and keep the ants away from your hands/arms. An internet search might turn up something natural that annoys ants and keeps them away. There seem to be websites from A&M that have lots of useful approaches to Texas agricultural issues.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 11:26AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

What do you do with the banana peels? :-)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 1:48PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

I put mine around my roses, Pam.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 3:31PM
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JimR36(5b CO)

I occasionally add in banana peels. They at least aren't as sugary as other fruits.

I'm not sure if it is fire ants we are talking about, or other ants. From the Texas Bug Book (Garrett and Beck) - a fairly good resource - fire ants supposedly don't like molasses. They mention that a lot, and also talk about applying "compost tea", vinegar, and citrus oil. [There may be commercial products available that contain these materials.] They mention that some gardeners have had good results with instant grits.

The book mentions - I guess for ants in general - combinations of boric acid and various base materials (flour, sugar, jelly, peanut butter) with the proportions/ratios listed.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 12:52PM
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JimR36(5b CO)

P.S. The book does take gardening and pest control from an organic perspective, so I am confident that their approaches are sensible and wise.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 12:55PM
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JimR36(5b CO)

Okay, the last approach (with boric acid) wouldn't be right for a compost pile, so that's more for controlling ants away from the garden area.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 12:58PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

I was just joking with you about the banana peels :-) I use them under my plants when I think of it or just throw them in the compost if I don't have time to get a shovel out. I have read that molasses works and have some on hand so use that when I find them in the compost pile. I collect too much to use a container and have a really large compost pile (two pallets wide) and three really big bins of chopped oak leaves to layer with the grass clippings in the summer. That is assuming that I have grass to clip. I think that we only mowed 6 times last summer with the heat and drought.

Thanks for the tips on ant bites y'all!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 7:51PM
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