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Huglekultur and ants/termites

Oystein Tandberg


Joined: Feb 28, 2011
Posts: 14
I recently erected a greenhouse, living in Norway it's the only way to grow tomatoes, so I thought I'd try out the Hugelbed. I dug a trence, added birch logs, cuttings (that I mechanically grinded) from fruittrees and compost (grass clippings). Then I added a top layer of bought soil - and within days there were ants.. At the moment they are nesting - my question is if anyone have any experiences with ants and termites - hugelbeds in the tropics for instance?
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
My hugel beds get carpenter ants in them.


Idle dreamer

duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 391
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
    
  11


if you built it, they will come

modular prebuilt homes for carpenter ants and termites

if you put the beds too close to your house,
eventually they will do like the "Jefferson's" and be "movin on up" to your house that "delux apartment in the sky"
Oystein Tandberg


Joined: Feb 28, 2011
Posts: 14
Will the ants be satisfied with the wood, or will they eventually start eating the roots of the plants as well? I'm looking at a place that has old logs lying around, and I will have to cut plenty off trees/bushes since the place has been neglected for a while - the owner has build a huge pakring lot to cover up a bog - I was planning to make hugle beds in this area - will it be a disaster?
Nathalie Poulin


Joined: Feb 07, 2011
Posts: 60
I think that you wouldn't get ants if you buried the logs deep enough? I don't know, but that's my assumption.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I think that's probably correct, jaggednib.  I see the ants on the beds where logs are exposed.  I'm gradually covering the beds over with more soil and manure.

Oystein Tandberg


Joined: Feb 28, 2011
Posts: 14
They are buried, but not deep..
Todd Hoff


Joined: Mar 14, 2011
Posts: 62
Mine are buried and we get lots of ants. I used an ant trap, but that won't work for very long. I don't even really know if it's necessary. Do they harm plants?
Dave Miller


Joined: Jun 08, 2009
Posts: 396
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
    
  10
The ants that are attracted to dead wood are carpenter ants (big & black).   They eat protein (insects) and sugar (e.g. aphid honeydew).  They do not eat wood, but they do excavate (quite beautiful) tunnels and galleries in soft wood.

I would guess that they will not harm plants although they may "farm" aphids and scale insects which do harm plants.  See this thread on ants and aphids

Ants (not carpenter ants) collecting aphid honeydew:
Oystein Tandberg


Joined: Feb 28, 2011
Posts: 14
Interesting. Someone commented somewhere that ants must be more successful than humans at Permacultre - I think I've made my last Hugelbed, it was too good to be true..
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Ants and termites help decompose wood, enriching the soil. 

So far I have not seen ants doing anything harmful in my garden. 
Mike Turner


Joined: Sep 23, 2009
Posts: 154
Location: Upstate SC
    
    1
If your local fire ants start building a mound around a small seedling, they can bury and kill the seedling or cause enough root disruption around a larger vegetable plant to stunt its growth, although plants growing near the mound sometimes can get a growth boost from the ant colony's latrine activities.  Also fire ants like to hang out around the nectaries on yard long beans, making harvesting the beans an interesting and potentially painful experience.
Paul Cereghino
volunteer

Joined: Jan 11, 2010
Posts: 847
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
    
  15
I did a bunch of research of carpenter ants when I had a hatch in my house.  Apparently the queen lives in a moist woody place with her minions and larvae... the workers carry the pupating larvae to a satilite nest in a warm dry location (like your house).  If you don't have a moisture problem, you are unlikely to have a queen nest, but a single queen nest can have multiple satellites at quite some range, connected by worker trails.  Warm summer evenings are a good time to detect traffic.

Reminds me of the little fire ants that live in the thorns of acacia trees in dryland Costa Rica, if you bump the tree, they drop on your head. 

I have wondered about carpenter ants in hugelbeet.. given that their excavations can do structural damage over time.  Yet another reason to live in a shack.  I was thinking of burying low, and funneling roof runoff to the hugelbeet, so that they flood frequently in winter. Perhaps that would discourage a queen nest next to the house?

Paul Cereghino- Stewardship Institute
Maritime Temperate Coniferous Rainforest - Mild Wet Winter, Dry Summer
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
There's no chance to eliminate carpenter ants near my house - they are everywhere around here.   
Suzy Bean
steward

Joined: Apr 05, 2011
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
    
    8
Paul, Caleb, and Krista review the film, "The Man Who Stopped the Desert" in this podcast: podcast

They talk about termites acting like earthworms.


www.thehappypermaculturalist.wordpress.com
                        


Joined: Dec 30, 2009
Posts: 122
Location: sub-tropics downunder
g'day,

here we go again hoping this post won't go missing in action.

are there termites in norway? i thought termites were a tropical type bug.

anyhow as it works for me and we have used to hugel methods for at least 15 years all presented on our web site.

no need to dig a trench to begin with hugel does indicate hill, so raised beds fit that description. ants and termites like worms and pill bugs etc.,. all help with the recycling of our organic material into our garden, all we need to do in the sub and tropics is to be sure we have a good and maintained termite barrier around our houses and sheds etc.,. and also to not grow anything within 2 meters of those structures, or use any mulch in those areas. the ideal is to have a dry zone gravel area for a meter out and to 300mm down, need to keep in mind to keep moisture stable in the soil around the foundations. then outside that meter lay a path to cover the next meter if a path is needed or leave it as lawn with no plantings of any sort. just here in the sub-tropics ants can bring aphids, mealy bug and scale onto plants they have a symbiotic relationship.

we are building a new house and so new gardens somewhere along the line, as we are getting older and health issues these beds will be as high as a sheet of corrugated roofing is wide, we had to push some trees down on our 1.25 acre plot these are piled up in preparation for burning in a year or 2's time, common practise in rural here, smacks in the eye of climate change followers. taking the trees to a dump where they may chip them is too expensive as is getting someone in to chip them, maybe the gov' should offer this service free to rural people so they don't need to burn. so anyway we will be buying a smelly noisy chain saw to cut up as much of the pile as we can to put into these new garden beds, then we'll cover that with top soil we have and our regular medium spent mushroom compost, and topped with sugar cane mulch spoilt luceren hay if it is available. and the ants and termites will have a feast. if we still have to burn the ash will be raked and used in the gardens as well, that is our bit for terra preta hey? and here i am worrying about burning stuff.

anyhow for those who have them don't worry or panic about the termites in the garden now in the house that's a different thing, as far as i know over here there are many speices of sub-terranian termites not all eat houses. and as permies they are a natural part of the habitat.

http://www.lensgarden.com.au/straw_bale_garden.htm

len


--

len

With peace and brightest of blessings,

"Be Content With What You Have And
May You Find Serenity and Tranquillity In
A World That You May Not Understand."

http://www.lensgarden.com.au/

<img src="http://www.lensgarden.com.au/peregrine_falcon.jpg">
Victor Johanson


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 266
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
    
  10
Doesn't Sepp Holzer value and encourage ants at the Krameterhof? Unless they create problems, I say leave them alone.
Rich Pasto


Joined: Dec 13, 2011
Posts: 97
strikes me odd that you want to reap the benefits of hugelkulture (and Im guessing other organic practices), but not want to deal with "undesirable" aspects of that.

The ants will aerate and till the soil. As noted, they eat other bugs and sugar.

If you hold a leaf that has aphids on the palm of your hand, and give it a brisk spray from the hose, the aphids will be dislodged. That is, if you even have aphids.
Ivan Weiss


Joined: Dec 19, 2009
Posts: 157
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
Ants and termites are everywhere here in the damp, woody Pacific Northwest of the United States. I promote and seek out anthills. I scoop up #10 cans full of ants and feed them to my chickens, who gobble them greedily and prefer them to any other type of feed.

I won't claim to "speak for Permaculture" or presume to define it, but my idea of Permaculture, for whatever it's worth, is to treat what nature provides for us in abundance as a resource, and to maximize that resource so that it helps to maximize other resources in our overall designs. If we look for ways to view what at first glance might appear to be pests or inconveniences, and imagine scenarios in which they might be resources, we find that our entire perspectives have broadened, and that new possibilities emerge that otherwise would have gone unexamined.

Therefore in my operation, ants (and termites if I encounter them; thankfully I haven't so far) get fed to chickens, helping to maintain flock health and vigor, saving me money that otherwise would have gone to purchase feed, and helping produce eggs and/or meat, which I feed to myself and my family, turn the surplus into money, or donate it to the local food bank. Plus the chicken poop enriches my cattle pastures, encouraging bacterial and fungal growth, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Or as Sepp might put it: "You don't have an ant or termite problem. You have a lack of chickens problem." I hope this is helpful.



Pastured poultry, pork, and beef on Vashon Island, WA.
aman inavan


Joined: Nov 20, 2011
Posts: 81
Location: Cornwall UK
We imported a colony of carpenter ants to the UK in or Airstream. Damn those things are hard to kill. I had many sleepless night cause of them ants I can tell you

aman


Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT
I don't care about spots on my apples,
Leave me the birds and the bees - please
Carina Robicheaux


Joined: Nov 08, 2011
Posts: 35
Location: Oregon Coast Range zone 8b
Carpenter ants only eat wood. They are helping enrich the soil of a hugelbeet. Carpenter ants do NOT farm aphids, because they don't eat sugar. Just wood. Other smaller ants do farm aphids. Get some lacewings and ladybugs....
The only other "problem" I've had with ants and plants is their extensive tunneling can dry out the soil near the roots. Carpenter ants are unlikely to eat living roots.
Termites however will eat roots. The Formosan termites in Louisiana killed my artichoke plant in no time flat. Oh well. "Artichokes don't grow in Louisiana" anyway.


You can't fight the waves but you can learn to surf.
aman inavan


Joined: Nov 20, 2011
Posts: 81
Location: Cornwall UK
carinar Hatfield wrote:Carpenter ants only eat wood. They are helping enrich the soil of a hugelbeet. Carpenter ants do NOT farm aphids, because they don't eat sugar. Just wood. Other smaller ants do farm aphids. Get some lacewings and ladybugs....
The only other "problem" I've had with ants and plants is their extensive tunneling can dry out the soil near the roots. Carpenter ants are unlikely to eat living roots.
Termites however will eat roots. The Formosan termites in Louisiana killed my artichoke plant in no time flat. Oh well. "Artichokes don't grow in Louisiana" anyway.


I understood that carpenter ants do not eat wood. They only build their homes in it. We eradicated our Carpenter ants by feeding them sugar and boric acid so they do eat sugar
Rich Pasto


Joined: Dec 13, 2011
Posts: 97
"What They Eat

Carpenter ants feed on sources of protein and sugar. Outdoors, carpenter ants feed on living and dead insects. They are also very attracted to honeydew, a sweet liquid produced by aphids and scale insects. Aphids and scales feed on trees, shrubs, and other plants. Indoors, carpenter ants feed on meats, as well as syrup, honey, sugar, jelly, and other sweets. Carpenter ants DO NOT eat wood. They remove wood as they create galleries and tunnels.

Most foraging is done at night between sunset and midnight during spring and summer months. Sometimes workers travel up to 100 yards from a nest in search of food."

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/housingandclothing/dk1015.html
Carina Robicheaux


Joined: Nov 08, 2011
Posts: 35
Location: Oregon Coast Range zone 8b
I stand corrected. I have never observed carpenter ants farming aphids. We have loads of carpenter ants here.
                        


Joined: Dec 30, 2009
Posts: 122
Location: sub-tropics downunder
most true ants would need sugar in their diet for their nest, generally apart from robbing native bees maybe, they get it from their symbiotic relationship with aphids, mealy bug, scale insects etc.,.

you may not see the activity or miss the activity.

len
aman inavan


Joined: Nov 20, 2011
Posts: 81
Location: Cornwall UK
I am still having nightmares about Carpenter Ants
 
 
subject: Huglekultur and ants/termites
 
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