Despite all the advantages it presents, a compost bin can be the playground for ants and flies in summer. Disgusting, but not harmful, ants can easily be defeated. First of all, be aware that these small intruders are often the result of a poorly closed lid, so carefully read on to discover how to get rid of ants in your compost bin.
How to get rid of ants in your compost bin?
Some ants are attracted to the meat that ends up in your compost bin. They lay eggs there, which in turn, become ants. To prevent this from happening, various tips are available to you:
- Wrap your leftover meat, poultry or fish in a newspaper or a paper bag before putting them in the compost bin. This forms a barrier that prevent ants from laying their eggs. Or, freeze leftover meat, poultry and fish and put them in the compost bin the day before collection.
- Keep your bin out of the sun and leave the lid closed at all times. If despite these precautions ants continue to appear, you can sprinkle them with hot water or vinegar to eliminate them.
When ants settle in the compost bin, it often means that:
- The compost is too dry. You can sprinkle it with water to try to moisten it.
- The compost is too rich in carbon: we then speak of “brown” compost: we must then add “green”, ie components rich in nitrogen.
Composting problems and how to fix them
Composting seems to be a simple process: allow time and nature to decompose organic matter until it turns into fertilizer. Let’s take a look at seven composting problems and how to fix them.
Too wet or soggy
- A dense compost pile with excess moisture, poor ventilation and little nitrogen becomes a soggy pile. To avoid excess water, make sure your compost is moist, but not wet.
- A heap of green material like fresh leaves and grass requires less watering than a heap of dry grass, dead leaves and other dry organic matter
- Turn the heap periodically to introduce oxygen and break up clods that can smother aerobic bacteria.
- When it is raining, cover the pile with a tarp allowing air to pass through.
- Aerobic bacteria need moisture to break down organic matter in the compost pile. The solution for a dry compost pile that does not decompose is to water it.
- At the same time, make sure that moisture enters the centre of the pile. This should start the “cooking” process in the dormant compost pile.
- An odour, usual ammonia, occurs due to an excess of nitrogenous materials in the compost pile. They can include manure, urine, blood meal and crushed shells.
- Add carbon-rich materials such as leaves, straw and hay to balance the nitrogen-producing materials and flip the pile.
- Rodents, raccoons and possums are attracted to the meat, bones and dairy products added to the heap.
- Avoid adding these materials or use a compost bin with a lid.
- Table scraps should be shredded and buried under carbon-rich materials.
- Insects and other critters will always make your compost pile a den. Among them, woodlice helps by breaking down the heap, which accelerates bacterial decomposition. However, the presence of too many insects such as ants, midges and earwigs may indicate that the composting process is slow.
- Check the temperature. A heap with a temperature above 48.8 ° C will force the insects to leave.
- Insects tell you about the condition of your compost. Some insects are indicators of its poor functioning such as midges, flies or ants. They are the ones who can be the most annoying and whose presence you will try to limit. Others tell you that the composter is working properly. The appearance of larvae or manure worms tells you when to spread your compost in the garden. They play an important role because they will absorb harmful organic elements to digest them and reject healthier matter. The same goes for snails and slugs which, at a more advanced stage, will grind the organic matter of the compost and allow it to decompose more quickly.
How to keep these bugs out if the compost pile
Depending on where you live, you may have a problem with raccoons. rodents and even pets enter your compost pile. Compost is both an attractive food source and a habitat for many animals. Knowing how to keep animals out of the compost pile is something that all compost owners need to understand.
If you manage your pile well by turning it around frequently and maintaining a good brown/green ratio, the animals will not be as attracted to your compost.
Make sure not to put meat or meat by-products outside. from the stack. Also, do not put leftovers with oil, cheese or seasonings in the pile; all of these things are rodent magnets. Also, do not add non-vegetarian pet excrement or cat litter to your compost.
Another method is to keep your bin away from anything that could be a source of natural food for an animal. This includes trees with berries, bird feeders and bowls.
Doubling your composter with a wire mesh is another tactic that can deter pests. Also, consider using closed compost system.
Learning how to keep animals out of the compost pile can be as simple as knowing the type of compost system you have. Although some people have had considerable success with open compost systems, they are often more difficult to manage than a closed system.
A closed bin system with ventilation will help keep pests away. Some pests will dig under a trash can, but a closed system represents too much work for many animals and also prevents their odour.
How to kill an ants nest
All species of ants live in more or less complex societies whose functioning is controlled by a queen. After the emergence of the first workers, the queen no longer leaves the nest and spends her life laying eggs. But its role does not stop there. It also directs the colony by emitting chemical substances, or pheromones, which dictate the activities and behaviours of the workers. Usually, killing the queen will exterminate the colony. To kill the queen, you have to find the nest!
Generally, the founding queen lives in the main nest where she lays her eggs in the company of workers who perform other tasks. There are, however, exceptions:
Some colonies, such as those of pharaoh ants, include secondary nests, called satellite nests, where other queens generally live. The formation of these nests can be caused by overcrowding of the main nest, changes in temperature or a lack of food to feed the mother colony.
Some species with just one queen also produce satellite nests. This is the case of a mature colony of carpenter ants which has the main nest and sometimes up to ten satellite nests. In this species, the main nest, which shelters the queen, the eggs and the larvae of the first stage, is always located near a source of humidity.
Satellite nests can contain mature larvae and nymphs, as well as winged adults. In the wild, a colony of carpenter ants can occupy several trees, but only one of them shelters the queen and the eggs.
The satellite nests are connected to the main nest by tunnels dug in the ground by the workers.
Once the main nest is located, it must be destroyed along with all the ants that inhabit it. Ideally, we will do the same with all satellite nests.
If the nest is located in the lawn or under the paving stones, the safest method is to destroy it using a gardening tool. It is necessary to stir the earth and turn it over by adding soapy water (the soap helps to drown the ants).
You must repeat this operation several times and for several days until there is no more activity. The nests are sometimes deep, be sure to demolish all the galleries, including the one where the queen lives.
When nests are difficult to access or impossible to locate, the use of boric acid bait is recommended.
Commercial products to eliminate ants
Electronic Ant Repellent
Electronic ants repellent are devices whose operation is based on the emission of ultrasound imperceptible to the human ear, but produce unbearable inconvenience to insects and rodents, which leave the exhibition areas for settle in other places. The magnetic anti-ants device uses as a principle the blocking of the receiving antennas that ants have, disorienting them, and preventing their reorganization to work or feed, creating an inhospitable habitat that causes them to move away in search of areas that allow them to continue living.
Insecticides for ants
The insecticide market offers a wide range of formats for domestic use. These are often a great deal if you intend to tackle your ant crises.