Will ants attack worms?

dewisri(Fla. 9b Orlando)August 11, 2005

I am developing a worm farm as part of a large veggie garden, I plan to introduce the worms to my raised garden beds. Question: do ants attack worms? I live in Florida, there are ants everywhere here, it's not possible to keep them away from the veggie beds (and they provide some benefits too). If ants are a problem I'll confine my worms to their own farm and distribute the castings. Thank you!

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bendback50(8 B/CS-TX)

Hey Dewisri,
Sorry your post hasn't been answered more quickly. There are several opinions as to whether ants are harmful or not. Even as to what kind of ants.

there is a lenghty post on the 2nd page titled "ant invasion" that will prolly give you some insight and precautions you can take. for what it's worth, I don't like ants, period!! :0)

bruce

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 1:20AM
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Fito(z7 NYC)

I plan to introduce the worms to my raised garden beds

What kind of worms are you planning on using?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 6:31PM
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dewisri(Fla. 9b Orlando)

I don 't know yet, have any suggestions? I have to build the worm bed outside, it needs to be relatively convenient to the back door (to make waste disposal more convenient). This is Orlando, Fla., where it's very hot. I'm designing a worm bed at the north end of the house and it's slightly experimental in that I'm building a radiator that will run through it. We have a heat pump, that means I have about 100-150 gal. of very cool (75-is degree) water that spills out onto my lawn every day. I'm running the water through the worm bed (copper pipes form the radiator), enclosing it with insulation and roofing the top to provide them a cool place to do their thing. An air conditioned worm bed.

The water then flows into a series of three small ponds where I hope to raise tilapia, and then to a pump to irrigate my garden (600 sq.ft.) and lawn. Sounds more complicated than it is.

To answer your question, I'm reading everything I can on irrigation, vermiculture, tilapia farming and vegetable gardening, worms are good for the raised bed veggie garden, I'm just not sure about the ants (they are endemic here in Fla.). Red wigglers, I suppose. I don't intend to after-market them, might use them as a supplemental food source for the tilapia, although tilapia are mostly vegetarian. Don't plan to sell them, mostly want them for compost and organic garbage disposal.

Open to any suggestions you might have.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 10:15PM
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lklndpatty(9/FL)

Hi dewisri....I am new to the forum...but also live in FL...Lakeland!! I am going to start with the worm thing because I understand the castings will keep the fireants away....but I am not sure if being outside (great ideas on your project by the way) would make them easy prey before they make castings...sorry I could not give info...just excited to find someone here from my "neighborhood" so to speak....good question though and I also would be interested in the answer....all the stuff I've been reading in this forum is that folks raise the worms in containers...we don't have worms in FL because they cannot process sand so we can't put them in our beds as far as I know...lots to find out...good gardening to ya...

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 11:44AM
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vermicathvic(victoria aust)

Re ant attack...in Victoria we have our fair share of ants and they seem to zone in on my worm farm ...am trying to get rid of the little bastards and will let you know if I come up with any ideas, don,t think they benefit the worms AT ALL. Would like to know more about this myself.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 5:35AM
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dewisri(Fla. 9b Orlando)

vermicathVIC,
Do the ants attack the worms or just infest the nest? A few months ago I lived in an apartment with a lovely, dark-earth courtyard garden beneath a huge loquat tree. There were plenty of worms, and plenty of ants. When it rained hard, the garden flooded and worms crawled across the sidewalk. As soon as it was dry, the ants were out in force and got any of the worms who were still exposed, pretty ugly sight. Don't know what went on in the soil, but as the worms were very plentiful (I lived there for five years, saw no changes in ant or worm populations), I presume they must have some defenses.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 7:25PM
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vermicathvic(victoria aust)

Dewisri Have sort of fixed my ant problem. My worm bins are against the laundry so I traced the worms around the brick wall until I found every spot the ants went in and out and sprayed the entrance, not near the worm bins, hope you don!t have a passion for ants cause I killed em.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 12:30AM
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oldereprobate

Fire ants will attack anything that moves close to them, regardless of size, tho we havent had them get into the worm beds yet. We do have a problem with soldier wasps tho, have to keep screening over the beds to keep them out

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 1:37PM
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junequilt(z8 SC)

I've raised red wigglers in South Carolina for over a decade and never known the ants (fire or otherwise) to attack my worms. I don't like having them in my bins any more than I like having maggots in there during the summertime, but they don't seem to do any harm. When I notice that ants have infested a bin, I harrass them by 1) watering (they prefer dry surroundings) and 2) frequently shifting the bedding. Sometimes I'll even pull a section of heavily infested bedding and toss it out into the yard.

However: about 15 years ago I brought home some field-grown daylilies and was SO excited because an earthworm was clinging to the roots of one of the fans. I set the fans down on the ground while I dug the planting holes, and within minutes fire ants were all over the fans, and did they ever attack that poor earthworm! I have no idea what type of earthworm it was, but it sure attracted the ants. I've never seen that happen with my redworms.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 7:24PM
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katj75(z8 OR)

I think my biggest concern would be the worms in an outside planting bed. The air conditioning set-up that you have mentioned may help with the temp issue, but the other issue maybe worms to squar footage of planting bed. I have seen other discussion about people theorizing similiar set ups. Several things came up - temps (not just hot, but cold as well) and space. For instance if you have a typical 4' x 8' worm bin that is a lot of space compared to an 18 gal rubber maid tub (which is what alot of people use for a bin). The problem people have discussed is that worms have to "run into each other" in order to breed and multiply and in a larger bed they would be very spread out. Also for reference I started a 30 gal bin, I started it with 2 lbs of worms for that space. In order for a large bed to get up and running quickly you would need ALOT more worms then 2 lbs, at an average of $20 per pound that could get spendy.

It sounds like you have the temp problem solved. But would the heat pump be passing 75 degree water through the bed in winter as well? They aren't happy with temps under 70 degrees either.

You know, now that I have thought about it longer, your set up might be better served with European night crawlers then Red Wigglers. Some people are starting to experiment with these. They are a little different then our "native" worms, which are not happy in a worm bed/bin environment. You might try looking up some info on those. I know that one person I have heard discuss these got his from some one in Florida, so someone out your way is using these, although I don't know what kind of set up they are using.

Not sure if any of this helps, but it sounds like you have a pretty cool vision of how to reuse your heat pump water.

Kat

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 12:21PM
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