4 Ways Ants are Good for You and Your Garden

There are over 12,000 named species of ants and at least double that many that remain to be discovered. And while we may not like them inside our house, ants serve a number of useful functions. According to ant specialist Brendon Boudinot, a doctoral student at the Department of Entomology and Nematology lab at UC Davis, ants are agriculturally important in various parts of the world. Some are even found in nutritious food dishes in Latin America and Southeast Asia. Here are four ways ants can help you:

1. Turning More Soil Than Earthworms

Boudinot notes that, similar to earthworms, ants do a great job in creating healthy soil. Their tireless tunnel digging aerates and turns over tremendous amounts of dirt, bringing nutrients closer to the surface, and making it possible for rainwater to more completely hydrate the soil.

2. Sowing Seeds

According to Fine Gardening, one of the most easily observed and important roles that ants play is to sow seeds. Seed-harvesting ants aid significantly in the dispersal, survival and germination rate of seeds. Ants do this by transporting them to new habitats and storing them in nests that are high in nutrients. In doing so, the newly dispersed seeds can sprout in an environment conducive to growth, protected from both seed predators and drought. This is one reason why many plants, including flowering plants across the country, are able to thieve in the wild. This ant-plant relationship is so symbiotic that many plants wait to bloom or bear fruit until ants become highly active early in the year.

3. Pest Control

Ants are excellent natural exterminators. According to Boudinot, many ants will feed on the eggs and larvae of troublesome insects like flies, fleas, silverfish, bed bugs and disease-carrying cockroaches. They also attack their number one enemy—termites. A good way to keep bothersome insects from taking over your yard is to encourage the colonization of ants around the perimeter of your yard. Having a variety of ant species in your yard says that the overall environment of your yard’s ecosystem is in good shape. Ants and other insects provide a good balance.

4. Eating Ants—a Crunchy Treat

According to an article in Mother Earth News, most ants are edible. Their flavor is pleasantly sour or vinegary due to an acid they secrete when threatened. In Colombia, ants are roasted with salt and eaten at feasts—bigger and juicier queen ants are the best. Colombian folklore suggests that eating queen ants can boost one’s libido. In China, consuming ants is part of a protein-rich diet. (Yours truly tried them as chocolate covered little cubes—they taste like chocolate Rice Crispies.)

So unless ants are entering your home, consider allowing them to preform their important ecological functions in your yard or garden. And if you can get over the concept of eating insects, you might just try an ant or two.

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138 comments

Ingrid H
Ingrid Habout a month ago

thank you

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One Heart inc
One Heart iabout a month ago

Thanks!!!

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Elaine W
Elaine Wabout a month ago

I tried telling them to stay out of my kitchen but.....

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Irene S
Irene S1 months ago

Hmm, don´t know what to think about. Ants probably eat silverfish, but they did never ever harm me. Ants did and they breed plant lice all over my flowers and elder trees. And every spring they start an offensive to invade the house. Even if eating them would solve these problems, I would abandon.

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Peggy B
Peggy B2 months ago

Noted

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Lisa M
Lisa M2 months ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M2 months ago

Noted.

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Ernest M
Ernest M4 months ago

Thanks for sharing!

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Ernest M
Ernest M4 months ago

Ants can be very annoying guests especially when they decide to share your house with you. While most of the ants are fairly harmless, but some can bite and some can cause property damage. When we attempt to do our own ant-colony extermination it is necessary to locate the colony and kill the queen. The best way to eliminate ants is to hire a licensed and qualified pest control company like Exterminator Queens , NYC pest control Services, Pest control in Brooklyn, NY, etc., who will first attempt to eliminate the ants and will try to rid them from your home and garden permanently.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

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