Florida ants always get a bad reputation. There are so many of them, they get into everything, and they can be difficult to get rid of. However, as long as they stay out of our homes, ants are actually beneficial to the backyard gardener.
So, put down the insecticide and learn a little more about these misunderstood creatures. You may decide that the concoction of chemicals isn’t quite as helpful as you were led to believe.
What role do ants lay in the garden?
Ants are one of the most beneficial insects for our yards, especially our gardens. Ants act as a source of aeration and help to fertilize the soil. By building tunnels, redistributing nutrients, and scavenging food from around your garden they leave the soil rich with nutrients and perfect for your growing plants.
But won’t they destroy my plants?
Unlike many insects you find in your garden, ants typically pose no threat to your lovingly tended harvest. Rather, you can think of ants as the guardians of your garden. Because ants are territorial, they patrol the area around their nests and run off any other insects that may be moving into the area. Including those that will actually harm your plants.
Why are Florida ants drawn to my garden?
So, if ants aren’t a threat to my plants, why are they drawn to my garden? Well, ants don’t eat your plants, but they do eat the nectar found on their stems and leaves. This isn’t to be confused with the nectar required to pollinate your plants. This creates a mutually beneficial situation for both the ants and plants. Food for the ants, and protection for the plants.
But wait! There’s more!
Not only are Florida ants good for your garden, but they are actually tiny garden enthusiasts themselves. By watching ant activity, you will see that they actually help gardens thrive. They plant new seeds, protect plants from herbivores, and protect beneficial insects such as butterflies.
Ants and some plants have come to form a symbiotic relationship. The Florida ants protect these plants, and the plants return the favor by providing food and in some cases even shelter.
Some plants even produce seeds with an attractant that encourages ants to bring them back to their nests. The ants then feed the “fat bodies” from the seed to their larvae and discard the seed in their waste pile filled with nutrient rich soil. This creates the perfect environment for these seeds to thrive and grow.
Ants have even formed an alliance with some of our gardens most beautiful insects, butterflies. The caterpillars produce a substance that attracts ants. They then bring the caterpillars into their nest where the caterpillars complete their development.
Why do I find them in my house then?
Remember when we told you to step away from the poison? Well, a large reason for that is these poisons, when improperly used and applied, kill and uproot large amounts of insects. Oftentimes poisoning the home of ants, forcing them out of our gardens (where they do belong) and to seek a new place to call home (our homes).
When to treat for Florida ants
Although many ants are beneficial, and should be left to create their homes, there does come a time when treatment is necessary.
Some types of ants, such as Fire Ants, can be a real problem for us. They are extremely territorial and will bite or sting humans, pets, and anything else that disturbs their nest. These nests can be difficult to differentiate from harmless ants, so leave treatment to the professionals.
We can identify the different types of ants you have in your yard and come up with a specific treatment plan. This allows us to eliminate harmful ants while leaving the beneficial ones to continue their role in your garden.
Inside the House
Unfortunately, ants will sometimes find their way into our homes. Once they have found access and food inside our homes it can be difficult to get rid of them. It is important to use the right chemicals to get the job done. If the wrong chemicals are used, ants can split colonies and create another nest in your house away from the contaminated group. This makes finding and eliminating them even more difficult.
As always, its best to call in the professionals to take care of the problem without overkill. We work with you to keep your home and yard clear of pests, while allowing nature to do its job.