Here's Why You May Want To Leave The Ants In Your Garden Alone

If you notice ants in your garden, you may be uncertain what to do. These insects can cause damage by harming the leaves of your plants or disturbing the soil while building nests, which can hurt the root system and weaken it. However, before seeking ways to get rid of ants, consider leaving them alone. Ants also provide a number of potential benefits to your vegetation, such as aerating the soil, warding off harmful insects, distributing seeds, and pollinating flowers.

Deciding whether to eliminate these pesky insects from your garden depends on the species you see. For example, small yellow and black ants will likely prove helpful. However, red fire ants can harm your vegetation and bite you. Another dangerous variety, leaf cutter ants hurt plants by harvesting leaves, flowers, and fruit, and can take down a significant portion of vegetation in a short amount of time. Similarly, large black carpenter ants can destroy wood fence structures and cause damage to your home or shed if the garden is nearby.

Ways that ants can benefit your garden plants

One of the biggest benefits of having safe ants in a garden is that they help to improve soil health by aerating it. When these insects make tunnels in the ground for their nests, they create spaces for water and oxygen to penetrate and move closer to the roots of your plants. As long as the ants do not harm the roots, the work they do underground is beneficial to the garden.

Certain types of ants will attack insects that are harmful to your vegetation, such as aphids. Some plants even produce nectar on their stems and buds to attract ants, which then protect the plants from other problematic insects, allowing the vegetation to thrive. When they attack these harmful insects, they may not only kill mature bugs but also disrupt egg-laying and mating, which keeps populations of harmful bugs low.

If you are growing a garden with natural, native vegetation, rather than adding and organizing specific plants, having a population of ants in the soil can be quite beneficial. These insects sometimes take seeds as they fall from plants and carry them into tunnels and nests underground. If the seeds are not eaten, they can naturally sprout the following spring, giving the space new growth with no additional effort required on your part.