Ants in lawns

Author: Stefan Palm   Date Posted: 21 February 2017 

There is a fair bit of opinion and information around the web regarding ants and how to get rid of them in a lawn and or garden. A simple browse through the chemical section of your hardware store or supermarket will reveal an abundance of products designed to kill ants so I don’t want to focus here on how to kill them because that is quite simple. The question here is why do you want to kill them?

Of the few thousand ant species that exist in Australia, only a few are considered pests. The small Black House ants and Coastal Brown ants that develop large colonies in and around houses are of the most concern. Of course there are other species that can create problems and that will mostly depend on where you live.

Ants can become a problem when they develop into large colonies. Issues include the tendency for some species to bite, the surface mounds that they create and the undermining effect they can have on paved surfaces. Then there is the issue of them getting inside your house which no-body wants.

On the good side, ants are seen in many cases as “bio indicators”. Scientists often use them as a means to test the health of an ecosystem. In other words, the presence of ants can equal a healthy environment. Ants naturally aerate the soil with their network of tunnels and they don’t actually damage lawns like black beetles and their larvae do. They break down organic material on the soil surface and act as a food source to other fauna like birds and lizards.

So as you can see, there are compelling reasons for and against ants. My advice is to have a think about why you want to get rid of them. If it’s just because they are leaving a few mounts of dirt on the surface of your lawn, I’d suggest leaving them be and think about all the good things they are doing. If your reasons extend to the safety of your children (ant bites), house invasion and structural issues such as the undermining of paving, then have a go at thinning out their numbers. One thing to remember here though is that with the exception of plague numbers, ants have very little capacity to damage your lawn.


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