Are Ants Really Bad For Home Landscapes?

Pest control companies will put the fear of ants in you and attempt to extend their reach of extermination services to the lawn, trees and shrub beds in your yard. There’s no doubt that ants are a nuisance in the home. But are ants really bad for home landscapes?

The Cons of Having Ants In Your Yard

1. Ant Hills

2. Biting

Are there any benefits to having ants the home landscape?

Yes! Ants are a beneficial asset to the home landscape ecosystem. As ants build their tunnels, they aerate the ground and deliver organic material down deep in the soil. This promotes healthy root growth for trees and shrubs. Ants are also predatory against some problematic insects like grubs, chinch bugs and caterpillars.

Ants feeding on nectar of a peony flower bud
Ants on a Peony flower bud
Small black ant feeding on a cicada bug
Ant feeding on a Cicada Bug

Some Myths About Ants in the Landscape

Ants Kill Old Trees. Contrary to popular belief, Carpenter Ants do NOT kill old trees – they tunnel out decaying wood, allowing airflow in to dry out and slow the decay.

Ants are needed to open Peony flowers. Tiny brown Odorous Ants (sometimes called “Sugar Ants) are only seen on the flower buds of Peonies before they open but not after. As a result, a folklore tale was born! The fact is, Peonies (like any other flower) do not need help blooming. The ants are only feeding on the sweet nectar on the un-opened bud.

Bark Mulch Attracts Ants. Pest control companies will discourage you from using bark mulch because it attracts ants. Carpenter Ants want to tunnel into soft wood. Bark mulch is shredded and not something they are interested in. While it’s true that Carpenter Ants are often seen running across mulch, they are usually on their way somewhere – possibly to the house structure. Homeowners should be more concerned if there is sill rot or other structural issues that might be attracting them to the home.

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