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My community compost pile is now home to a very active ant's nest. As soon as any food goes on the pile, the ants are swarming over it.

Is it anything to worry about, or are the ants a healthy part of the system?

  • Do you know what kind of ants they are? Personally, I'd be worried about Argentinean fire ants (which apparently form a super-colony, have a nasty bite, and will even find their way into your fridge), but less worried about most other varieties I'd find locally (but other countries have nastier ants than NZ). – Highly Irregular Mar 13 '13 at 8:25
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Ants in your compost heap are not a problem. The ants can be a benefit by helping cut heap material in tiny pieces, making tunnels and spreading fungi. However, if your heap is their home (did you find ant eggs in your heap?) that usually means that the heap is not functioning properly. It may not be wet enough or not heat up properly.

If you want the ants to leave, turn and moisten the contents regularly. Spreading the contents and leaving it for a few days will also help.

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Ants aren`t going to cause any problems (until you want to remove your compost and then they might get annoyed!). They will actually help in the breakdown of the organic waste. Coffee grounds are meant to deter ants so you may consider adding some to your compost bin.

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