Just like everything else in nature, ants and other insects play an important function in our lawns and gardens. In small numbers, they can assist in creating healthy soil by aerating it with underground tunnels.
But a full-blown ant infestation can cause cosmetic and root damage to your lawn. While that isn’t as bad as ants in your pants, it’s still a problem.
Why You Have Ants in Your Lawn
Ants help create a balanced ecosystem in our gardens. They help break down plants and they get rid of other dead insects.
They will feed on the dead bugs, beetles, leaves, and other organic material. They’ll bring these into their nest underneath the soil. The material eventually decomposes to act as a natural fertilizer for your soil.
If we took ants out of the environment, the entire ecosystem would collapse. They are probably the single most important creature on this planet.
What ants make a colony?
“If we were to weigh all the ants in the world, they would weigh as much as all of the people,” says the naturalist, Chris Packham.
Of course, estimates of the world’s ant populations vary wildly. But in areas with multiple queen colonies, there may be 200 or more mounds and up to 40 million red fire ants per acre.
“Only about 20-25 per cent of all ant species have been described,” says ant expert Dr Alan Andersen. “There are probably up to 300 new species being discovered every year!”
Each ant within a colony plays an important role in gathering food and defending the nest. The colony produces enough ants to last into the future.
Every colony has a queen ant. She lays all the eggs for the colony. The queen is located deep within the ant colony. There, she is protected from predators that might attempt to get into the nest.
Male ants, or drones, perform a sole function. They mate with the queen ant to ensure that the nest continues to grow.
The colony’s female ants build and maintain the underground tunnels and the nest itself. Some will go beyond the nest to look for food. Others protect the colony from other ant colonies.
Not Quite Ants in Your Pants, But …
Ants are territorial insects. They protect their nest. They will bite and sting when their nest is threatened. For you, this often means painful bites.
Their nests have mounds above ground. These mounds can sometimes damage mower blades. The mound can also be quite an eyesore – especially in an otherwise pristine lawn!
How to Spot an Infestation
You’ll know you have an ant infestation when you observe a significant number of ant mounds on your lawn. You will also notice dead and dry patches in the turf. You’ll find small holes in the ground nearby.
The mounds are made up of dirt and sand. The ants will dig and build underground tunnels and nests in soil. They leave the materials they dig out above the ground.
The materials eventually collect into mounds. When your lawn is infested, you will likely find many such mounds across your lawn.
The dry patches are a sure sign of infestation, as well. These patches will occur when ants tunnel through the lawn and eat through the roots of the grass. This causes green grass to turn yellow. The grass will die over time.
When should I treat ants on my lawn?
If you’re thinking about treating ants in your lawn, it’s important to consider the consequences on the area’s ecosystem. While ants can be annoying, they are an important part of your lawn’s ecosystem.
Ants not only keep other insect populations in check, but other creatures rely on them for food. Spiders, frogs, and lizards feed on ants.
Removing ants from your lawn means you deny these creatures a valuable source of food. That said, controlling a large infestation of ants may require pesticide.
How to Control an Infestation
You can choose among several pesticides. These include the following:
- Amgrow Baythroid Advanced for Lawns
- Richgro Ant Killa
- Yates Ant & Cockroach Destroyer
- SureFire Fipronil
Should you decide to use any of these products, follow the instructions on the label. Should you need help in identifying and treating infestations in your lawn, contact your local Lawn Solutions Australia expert.