Go Organic: Say no to ants with nematodesBy James Ashford
May 18, 2012
I have always had a live and let live attitude to ants in my garden.
While they’re not too much fun on a picnic, they are part of the natural order of things and even do some good.
They can cause some damage on lawns if you’re very fussy and they will transport aphids on to broad bean plants but as pests go they are an inconvenience rather than a genuine problem.
In the greenhouse, though, it can be a different matter.
I have had ants inside my greenhouse for three or four years now and they have never been too much of an issue. But this year the numbers have increased significantly and they are starting to disturb my smaller seedlings as they seek out new territory.
I guess the warm dry conditions inside the greenhouse provide perfect conditions for ants to thrive and pots of seed compost seem to be popular nurseries for these industrious insects.
Being an organic gardener I don’t use poisonous chemicals in my garden and I certainly wouldn’t want to use anything strong enough to kill ants in a confined space like a greenhouse.
Keeping the soil saturated would certainly encourage them to move on but despite the recent rain I’m reluctant to waste water.
And so I’ve turned to a relatively new nematode product from Nemasys called No Ants which doesn’t kill the insects but displaces them.
Nematodes are microscopic worms which occur naturally in the soil. They have been used to treat slugs for many years now but this new product contains a variety called Steinernema feltiae which ants will not tolerate near their nests.
The nematodes arrive by mail order packed in clay.
You add them to a watering can, according to the instructions, and then water them on to the ants’ nests.
The idea is that the ants will move away from the nematodes and out of my greenhouse. Only time will tell if it has worked or not and I’ll keep you informed as the summer wears on.
No Ants is available from the Organic Gardening Catalogue. A pack that will treat 16 nests costs £10.75.