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Garden Pests Series: G…

Thoughts and musings

Garden Pests Series: G…

Lewis | April 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

…is for Garden Ant.

Well, our Garden Pest Series is well and truly established now; this is our 7th already! It’s gone quickly for us, as I have really enjoyed writing them! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them, too. The research for each garden nuisance has certainly been both fun and educational, as to be honest with you, I didn’t know that ants could be classified as garden pests; not when they are compared to others such as aphids and bitter pits! But they are here on our self-compiled list, under the letter ‘G’. Some of you may argue that they could technically be under the letter ‘A’, but not only does the word ‘Garden’ enable me to include another pest beginning with ‘A’, but it also distinguishes the common ant from other ants in their biological family! so, semantics aside, let me tell you why the common garden ant is a pest in your garden.

Although they aren’t the most harmful, detrimental or destructive elements ever to grace your garden, the ant can be a bit of pain if you allow them to be. Despite being small in stature, ants are reasonably noticeable. As each ant colony can be in the thousands in number, spotting an ant is highly likely. You can also look for small piles of earth in certain parts of the garden, such as in soil, on lawns and at the base of exterior walls. Swarms of flying ants can also be spotted in the UK during the hottest part of the Summer.

The reason why many may not, at a first glance, feel that ants are genuine garden pests is that they rarely affect many plants in a detrimental manner. However, as they feed on sugary foods, you can often see them amongst your plants feeding on honeydew produced by another garden pest: the aphid. The heaps of earth they create as nest entrances can also affect your gardening regime. They are quite unsightly, and may prove a nuisance when mowing the lawn, and they may partially bury plants that grow low to the ground.

It isn’t as simple as removing a nest and the queen ant, as this will simply make room for another colony. Therefore, you should only control the nests that are causing real problems in your garden. If the chemical treatment method is something you want to pursue, they are a large number of widely available pesticides for control, although Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids are particularly useful for indoor use. As always, Oakleigh Manor recommend that you take reasonable precautions before handling pesticides, and always read and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

On the other hand, there is a number of organic, non-chemical means that you may choose. You can encourage insectivorous birds to your garden by hanging bird boxes and feeders if natural control is your preferred method. In addition, upon identifying a nest, you can dig it up ensuring that you remove the queen. My favourite method is one akin to trapping a large spider in your home! It is recommended to place a tin can over a nest in the morning, as when it heats naturally during the day, ants take their eggs up into the can. Then in the afternoon, slide a piece of cardboard under the tin can, thereby trapping the insects inside, disposing of them after.

It may seem, due to the large number of ants a single colony can boast, that combatting them is a losing battle. That isn’t necessarily true. There a number of prevention tactics you can deploy that will help your garden avoid a very problematic infestation of ants in the future. A good place to start is removing honeydew from plants, as well as using natural predators to control aphid populations and to maintain pest-free plants in general. During the colder months, when female ants are overwintering in the soil, you can dig said soil up to disturb them. Finally, cleaning areas infested in the past to remove pheromone trails is also recommended.

So take all this on board! Yet another interesting blog post from Oakleigh Manor! Tune in for the next edition of our Garden Pests Series and don’t forget to find us on the social media websites of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, too.