How to deal with ants with permaculture?

Discussion in 'Recipes & Remedies' started by garnede, May 1, 2011.

  1. dWall

    dWall Junior Member

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    I would like to express my thoughts, as I have had to work with the ants rather than against them. I agree that ants are a critical part of distributing organic materials and minerals throughout a rhizosphere. First hand experience in Costa Rican rainforests will show you this, Leaf cutters are so interesting!
    However, I am a manager of a farm, which is a system in order to create food not only for myself and others, but a surplus the return back to the land. This does not mean, see an ant, kill the ant. Yet, it means.. observe the fact that the ants are farming honeydew from the aphids, that are on the annual veg. Okay, observation of nature, first step, let's see what the effect is. Not much right, now let's move this to the next level of interaction, humans. My owner comes to me and asks, why are all these ants "taking over" the compost or the "X".
    With a little more observation, we can tell that ants actually farm mycellium just like they do aphids. The mycellium growing on a compost pile (properly made) will attract certain forms of ants who will properly set up a level of production for their procreation. I believe Paul Stamets was the first to document this phenomenon, I have seen it first hand and read many articles in the past, very interesting. The knowledge is out there.
    Other than that, mint oil, coffee grounds (starbucks gives them away for free in convenient little bags at the doors), and I've also heard taking one pile and tossing it on another will cause a war of ants so to speak causing both colonies to move.
    Good luck! I hope this will give you more information you could utilize.

    sources/info - scholar.google.com
     
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  2. Livingston

    Livingston New Member

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    We have fire ants here in GA and they can be everywhere if they want to be. My youngest is so allergic to them that in less than five minutes after getting six bites she needed Her epi pin injection and an ambulance. We have to carry her epi when we play or work outside. So there are some places I can't allow them to set up shop, like by our doors, out buildings, the garden beds, and near the chicken coop. Chickens love to eat them. I disturb the bed, toss a sprinkling of cracked corn on top and then I have a fire ant sundae for my egg laying ladies! A shovel full of two different colonies does work but not if the colonies are close by. DE works too, but our favorite is luring them away from wherever they are in the little one's path with road kill off the highway out front. They go where the food and moisture are and my oldest gets cool skulls and bones to study and sketch.
     
  3. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i have always liked studying ants. and for fire ants they've tried using phorid flies to help keep
    them under control or to at least slow them down a bit.
     
  4. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    We use coffee grounds and we also use "bait" (like Livingston mentions in her post above) to move colonies that have set up where we really can't have them.
    Killing them seems such a waste, we use them instead by herding the colonies to areas we want them to live or at least to areas we can let them have for themselves.

    In the instances where there is no other solution, the cornmeal trick works very well, especially if you put a shallow pan of water near the nest that you just put the corn meal on. For the corn meal to work really well and quickly, just disturb the nest right before sprinkling the meal on the mound.
    For near instant control we use Soda Water, we have had to do this twice to keep colonies from invading our living quarters. 2 - 2L. Bottles, poured into and around the mound and the ants are gone, moved on to new, better living spaces. I've read this treatment kills them but our experience shows it mostly moves the colony quickly and as far as 10 meters. I dislike killing any living thing, all things have a purpose here, some we just have to discover their niche and then respect that.
     
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  5. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    We have an echidna hanging around the last week
     
  6. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Wow, I've read that they're very particular about where they live. You must have an excellent environment! Do they actually tear up an ant's nest when they find one?
     
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  7. Megan Anderson

    Megan Anderson New Member

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    What great responses! I have learned so much! One area i didn't see a response on, and where we had them this spring, is indoors. We had a rash of ants mainly in our kitchen. 50-60 ants/day. We've never had this challenge before, and it seemed a lot of our neighbors had the same strange issue this spring. We found that spraying a mixture of 5 drops peppermint essential oil/2 oz of water stopped them from coming in. They wouldn't go anywhere near where we sprayed. We sprayed all around our sink, the doorframe around our patio door, and the railing of the deck. Within a day or so the numbers were greatly reduced. Now I'm seeing about 1-2/week. We were also ant-free well before our neighbors were. Good luck out there!
     
  8. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i've studied ants most of my life. they are facinating creatures. in so many ways
    they exhibit the same sorts of things that humans do, they farm, herd, plant, wage
    war, take slaves... if you ever get a chance to read a great work check out
    _The Ants_ by Bert Hölldobler and E. O. Wilson
     
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