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Why ant hills?

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Answer # 1 #

To get rid of an anthill in your yard, you should pour a solution of 50% vinegar and 50% water into the openings. The vinegar mixture will penetrate the tunnels of the anthill, eliminating the ants inside. You may need to repeat 1-3 times until you see no activity at the anthill.

Ants are considered one of the most successful animals in all of nature. This is because of their complex social system and ability to adapt to stressful situations like changes in population and weather.

Your yard may be a desirable spot for an ant colony to make its home. Water, shelter, and food might all be available in your yard. Look at the factors below that make your yard a great environment for ants, then you’ll learn how to get rid of them for good!

One possible reason for anthills in your yard is that you have leaking pipes. The water that seeps out into the yard attracts ants and those ants will leave a scent behind to direct other ants to the area.

They may also be making your yard their home because you have a reliable water source like a birdbath. Like the pipes underground, ants will leave their scent near any water and direct their colony towards it. Get rid of any standing water and check for leaky pipes to keep them away.

Ants prefer sandy or any dry and well-drained soil for making their anthills. They also like a lot of suns. If your yard has patches and is struggling, you may see anthills begin to form. Yards without patches that are healthy will have a much lower chance of an anthill appearing.

The looser the soil particles are, the more likely an ant will be interested in it as a home.

The major source of food ants eat is aphids. Aphids are tiny sap-sucking bugs that are “farmed” by the ants to eat over time. Ants are obsessed with the honeydew that aphids produce.

Aphids and ants have a symbiotic relationship, which means they benefit each other and work together to survive. Ants protect aphids from predators, while aphids provide continuous supplies of honeydew for the ant population.

Aphids will generally leave your mature plants alone, but in large numbers can be destructive. Although getting rid of ants won’t get rid of aphids completely, it will decrease their numbers.

If you have garbage cans outside, especially in the yard, you have a higher risk of ants. It’s no secret that ants flock to food, especially when it’s sweet and sugary.

Food sources that may be in your yard include other insects, fruits, fungi, vegetables, and grains. Different ants have different food preferences, but if you have any of the above things in your yard, you are more at risk for them.

The actual colony comes after a few ants have scouted out your yard. Once they have found food, water, and shelter, ants leave a trail of breadcrumbs to it by producing a pheromone that other ants will smell and follow.

Don’t forget to check our other article on Types Of Smells That Attract Ants for a list of what to avoid when trying to get rid of ants!

Anthills are not only a nuisance visually; they also make mowing the lawn annoying because it makes the ground uneven. Be careful—anthills will trip you if you’re not watching for them.

On some occasions, an anthill is bad for plants if they are directly under one because they dry out the soil around the roots. They also dry out patches of your lawn, leaving behind ugly patches when you clear them.

An anthill can indirectly kill your plants if they are farming aphids. Ants keep populations of aphids to feed off of the honeydew they produce. Ants don’t eat plants, the aphids themselves are the ones who eat and destroy the plant.

The last thing that is bad about having ants in your yard is the possibility of being bit or stung by one. The chances of that happening significantly increase when you have an ant infestation, and an anthill is the clearest indicator of one.

Besides the tripping hazard, possible bites, and uneven soil caused by anthills, ants are very good for the ecosystem and your yard.

For starters, they improve the soil. All the tunnels they build underground aerate the soil. Anthills are known for aerating the soil better than earthworms do. They also eat any fungus growing in the soil.

In addition, ant waste fertilizes the soil. It contains urea and amino acid, ingredients that people pay good money for as fertilizers.

Another way ants help your yard is as its clean-up crew. They will take away dead insects and pest larvae to be collected in their nest.

And finally, ants help the yard by protecting plants. Plants that secrete nectar attract ants, who pick up any pests along the way. They don’t harm the plants themselves but act as guardians as they make their way to it.

Ant colonies can grow to shocking numbers. Anthills will house anywhere from a couple of dozen to thousands of ants!

Some ant populations can grow into supercolonies. A supercolony is a community of nests and different queens all connected by worker ants that work together to hunt for food and build more tunnels.

There is a famous ant supercolony along the coast of California that is one web of ant communities stretching over 560 miles and housing hundreds of millions of ants! Can you imagine how complex that tunnel system must be?

Luckily, your house probably isn’t the home of a major ant supercolony. You may have a network of several anthills in your yard, but it isn’t too hard to fix!

An anthill is leftover dirt and debris that ants clear out as they build their underground tunnel system. Ants move more dirt than any other organism on Earth, even earthworms!

Ants dig into the ground to build tunnels, carrying the dirt they’ve excavated to the top. They also take waste, pebbles, leaves, sand, and plant matter up to the top. The combination of these things brought to the surface build-up to form an anthill.

Anthills are complex structures that have an intricate tunnel system with an entrance and an exit. If you have multiple anthills in your yard, they are probably connected underground. Talk about a great networking system!

Ants decide to build anthills in yards because, like every other living creature, they are looking for food, water, and shelter. They need shelter specifically for their queen and her larvae.

The mound itself is the entrance to the shelter underneath your lawn. It helps regulate the temperature inside the mound, keeping it ideal for reproduction. It also protects the ants and the larvae from predators.

Anthills come in different sizes and vary slightly in shape, but they are generally round mounds that can be a couple of inches to two feet wide. They can also grow up to 18 inches tall.

These are only estimations of average-sized yard anthills. They can grow much bigger than that, but the average ones stay near those measurements. It takes a perfect environment for an anthill to reach enormous sizes, which your yard probably doesn’t have.

However, even the smallest anthill is an annoying eyesore. So, why are they in your yard? There are several reasons, let’s find out what they are!

Luckily, there are a variety of ways to get rid of ants in your yard. Some of them are natural ways, while others use chemical insecticides. Keep in mind that the absolute best way to eliminate ant infestations and their anthills is to hire a professional pest control service. They will ensure that every anthill is cleared out and give you advice on how to keep them from coming back.

However, there are a variety of ways you can clear them out on your own. Here is my advice and direction for getting rid of those pesky anthills in your yard.

One common suggestion for getting rid of anthills is to pour boiling water into them. This works for the ants directly underneath the anthill, but it does not get into every tunnel and crevice of the anthill network below unless using a significant amount of water. You also kill any plants that are hit by the scalding water.

According to the University of Florida, pouring boiling water into anthills is highly effective, but it does not get rid of ant colonies entirely unless you use multiple treatments. Use at least three gallons each time you use this treatment.

There have been suggestions to pour gasoline into anthills. Don’t do this! It is TERRIBLE for the environment. You’d be destroying the grass and any vegetation near the anthill that you wish to keep after the anthill is gone.

Spices create a clear reaction when we taste them. Our tongues burn up, and our eyes leak. Ants also react. They do NOT like spice. This method does not get rid of ants completely, but soaking it into the anthill will make it inhospitable for them, causing them to move.

Ants hate the smell of black pepper, spicy cinnamon, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, and cloves.

Other smells that ants hate can be found in our popular article about Scents That Ants Hate And How To Use Them.

Use these scents in and around anthills to make their nest unpleasant to be in and around your house to keep them from coming in.

Sprinkle one or several of these spices on the anthill or create a solution with water and the ground-up spices to pour down the entrance and exit of the anthill. Creating an unlivable environment for the ants jumpstarts the process of getting rid of them and their underground home.

Another easy way to get rid of ants from an anthill is to use boric acid and sugar. Please consult a professional before use and practice all safety information with boric acid as it toxic to humans.

Mixing a tablespoon of boric acid with one cup of sugar and a little water to make a paste can help get rid of anthills. You can put this paste around the anthill and ants will flock to the sugar for food and instead bring back poison to their colony.

Vinegar is a great way to kill ants, but keep in mind that it is a weedkiller as well, so you will be putting any plants nearby at risk by using this method. Overall, this is my favorite method however.

Create a solution of 50% vinegar and 50% water. Pour it down the entrance and exit of the anthill. This mixture will get rid of anthills in your lawn.

Just like the boiling water, the solution won’t reach every ant, but it will create a huge dent in the ant population that lives there, and keep them from making that place their home again.

Diatomaceous earth is a great, non-toxic ant killer that will do the trick on an anthill. It is a combination of fossilized phytoplankton and other algae. This abrasive dust does the trick by absorbing any moisture from ants’ bodies that it comes into contact with, destroying them.

If you’re looking for an excellent product, I highly suggest using DiatomaceousEarth DE10, 100% Organic Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth Powder.

Use diatomaceous earth by identifying any ant trails. Start by sprinkling it along the trails. Any large grouping of ants above the surface can be taken out by sprinkling it on them directly.

Create a perimeter around the anthill with the diatomaceous earth. Cover the anthill liberally with it. Using a shovel, mix the earth with the dirt. Expose the inner part of the anthill as much as you can and sprinkle even more diatomaceous earth into it.

After 24-48 hours, check the anthill to make sure ants have stopped pouring out of the mound. Then you’ll be able to level the anthill.

Using TERRO T600 Ant Dust for getting rid of ants allows you to clear out the anthill. Apply this dust as you would the diatomaceous earth, as they are both the same consistency. Expose the inside of the anthill and pour the ant dust in, mixing it up with a shovel.

Another product that works great is the TERRO T300B Liquid Ant Killer. They come with 12 bait stations that attract ants. Once the ants eat the bait and take it back with them to the colony, they poison every ant that comes into contact with it.

If you are using the bait method, Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension suggests leaving the bait out for three days to poison as many ants as possible. Then, pour boiling water over the mound to finish the job.

If you’d like, take a look at our guide on the best overall ant traps for tiny ants here.

After using one or more of the above methods (insecticides, vinegar, etc.), you should have taken out the ant population, at least enough to permanently displace them from the anthill.

Now you can clear out and level the anthill using a rake to smooth out the mound.

If your anthill is on a part of your yard that once grew grass, then be careful when using the rake to flatten the anthill as it could smother the surrounding grass. You should remove excess soil to keep it from covering too much grass.

If you used plant-killing chemicals (like vinegar) to destroy the ants underground, remove any of the affected soil and replace it with untouched soil. Once the area is flat and the soil mixed up loosely, then you can spread grass seed over it and begin the process of regrowing.

You can, of course, bypass all of the methods above and call in the professionals. They will be able to handle the anthill problem easily and save you a lot of time. Ants are very hard to get rid of, especially with anthills nearby.

We can help you find a local exterminator through our nationwide partner network here.

Of course, you’ll never totally get rid of ants from your yard—but why would you want to? They are beneficial to the health of your soil by fertilizing and aerating it. The goal is to keep the ant population down enough to discourage anthills from being made.

Too many of them, however, are a huge nuisance that can potentially invade your home. When you see an anthill, you know that there are too many. Anthills are ugly and ruin the aesthetic of your yard. They house thousands of ants that could be attracted to ANY food source you have outside and inside if they can get in.

If you don’t use a professional, one or a combination of the methods above will do the trick for you. Once most of the ants are gone, simply rake the mound until it’s flat. I hope this helps you get rid of those pesky invaders!

“Biology of the Fire Ant.” Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Project, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, 2 Nov. 2012.

Potter, Michael F. “Ant Control for Householders.” Entomology at the University of Kentucky, UK College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, 8 Oct. 2018.

“Profitable Cooperation: Ants Protect and Fertilize Plants.” Phsy.org, Aarhus University, 30 Aug. 2017.

Rust, M.K., and D.H. Choe. “How to Manage Pests.” UC IPM, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources UC, Oct. 2012.

[4]
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Måns Mulaney
Herpetologist
Answer # 2 #

Ants build mounds in all shapes and sizes. Beneath those piles of dirt, ants are building their underground homes.

That’s what I found out from my friend Rob Clark, an entomologist who studies bugs on plants. His job is to figure out if bugs make a plant sick or help the plant grow.

He told me ants are one of the most diverse insect families. Scientists know about nearly 13,000 species—and each ant species makes a different kind of nest.

Carpenter ants might make their nests in dead wood. Acorn ants make their nests in small twigs and acorns. Then there are ants that create massive underground mazes that are like cities just for ants.

Ants are pretty good at digging underground tunnels with their little jaw-like mouthparts, too.

“The workers use their mandible to carry the dirt and make space for the queen ant and the larvae,” said Clark. The larvae are their babies who will grow into workers.

Some ants, like harvester ants, will dig nests up to ten feet deep. While some ants make hills with the dirt they dig out, other ants make mounds they’ll actually live inside.

Thatch ants can make mounds that are up to four feet tall. The ants move around a lot of soil and bits of plants to shape their home. They like to build the mounds in a sunny spot, Clark said. Ants don’t like the cold. The babies need a warm environment and so do the workers.

Clark told me he actually saw one of these mounds while he was out in the field and thinking about your question. There were a lot of busy ants crawling around the outside and the inside of it.

It turns out, almost all ant nests start out with a young queen who has never had a colony before.

The queen excavates a small hole in the ground and picks up the soil with her mandibles. She will lay a few eggs and the ants that hatch will become workers.

“As she lays more eggs and more workers grow up, they have to expand the size of their house,” Clark said.

While ants can take care of the house, they can also help with jobs like farming aphids, another little insect.

Aphids have sugary poop, called honey dew, that comes from the sap they eat. Ants eat honey dew and protect the aphids from other predators, like a shepherd tending to a flock of sheep. It’s all part of something called mutualism, which means two living things helping out each other.

Now you know, ants on our planet make different kinds of nests, but they do it for similar reasons. They need to create a safe place for their colony to eat, work, and live. A single colony can contain thousands of ants and they all help each other survive.

Next time you see an ant hill, think about all the ants that made it and that there is a whole little world beneath it.

Sincerely, Dr. Universe

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Swamy, Siddhu
FENCE ERECTOR SUPERVISOR
Answer # 3 #

The ant mound has three major purposes. The mound serves as the entrance to the below ground nest; the mound helps control the nest's internal temperature; and it helps protect the nest from predators or other intruders that might damage or destroy the nest.

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Nino Lipton
Marquetarian