[permaculture] Fire Ants in Permaculture

Lawrence F. London, Jr. venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Fri Mar 2 15:36:01 EST 2012

On 3/2/2012 12:29 PM, Chris Carnevale wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> Has anyone heard of or seen any models of using fire ants to till garden
> beds?  They make the soil so loose and friable-similar to pigs.  I was
> thinking it might be possible to bait fire ants to an area that I want to
> convert to growing area by leaving something sugary on the ground and then
> letting them do their work.  Has anyone tried this?  Success?  Disaster?

Fire ants do amazing work. They seem to have been much more active over 
the past 4 years around here. We will see if that continues this year. I 
welcome them. I have no idea what attracts them, voles or gophers 
either; if I knew I would try to increase their populations on my farm.

The physical power of ants is sometimes hard to believe. I have a very 
hard packed crusher run (ABC quarry material) driveway and parking area. 
This material has been compacted when wet with huge fully loaded 
dumptrucks and daily traffic for many years; it is next to concrete in 
hardness. I have seen ants create shallow trenches, maybe 3-6", into 
this material all the way across the driveway and in several places.
The do as fire ants do, excavate the material, tilth it and mound it up 
along the sides of their trenches. You can see the thousands of them at 
work doing this, zipping back and forth across the drive. If they can do 
this to a driveway think of the potential for tilthing a farm field or 
garden. I do not worry about stings; I just stay out of their way. They 
build their mounds, seal them up and just want to be left along. If you 
scratch the surface they will swarm to repair any damage. This is 
probably when people get stung.

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