General Question

PupnTaco's avatar

What do ants contribute to the ecosystem?

Asked by PupnTaco (13865points) July 13th, 2008 from iPhone

It’s summer and we’re deluged with the seasonal swarm of ants all through the house. I hate them!

Would the world be any worse off if all the ants disappeared overnight?

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16 Answers

syz's avatar

Ants are an enormous constituent of the earth’s biomass and play a multitude of roles (see E. O. Wilson). Their various forms, societies, chemical defenses and communications, and farming are fascinating.

Hobbes's avatar

Well, it depends on the species. Of course, all ants form a part of the food chain (they are prey for many organisms) but some cultivate species of fungus, distribute seeds, or even “tame” species of caterpillar that produce honeydew

PupnTaco's avatar

The “honeydew” being sticky bug poo, not the melon, of course.

These are the Argentinian ants and we’re dead center in the world’s largest single colony from what I’ve read – stretching from Canada to Argentina.

gailcalled's avatar

Don’t we talk about this every summer. My bugbane is the Japanese beetle. Next to it, the ant seems a minor rnuisance.

PupnTaco: Dustbuster? Borax mixed with honey? Stamp on with shod foot?

PupnTaco's avatar

Boric acid powder works great. I’ve found they hate the foamy hand soap we keep at the kitchen sink. Mostly, it’s finding what they’re going after and cleaning it thoroughly. This afternoon, it was a 1/16” crumb of cheese on the kitchen table. There must’ve been fifty ants swarming all over it.

PupnTaco's avatar

p.s. We used to keep three hens in our backyard for eggs. They loved Japanese beetle grubs like nothing else – and would attack the shiny adult beetles with a vengeance, too.

gailcalled's avatar

In summer, I have to put everything in sealed canning jars w. rubber gaskets or in freezer. The insect world wins every time. Last summer I had small moths and then horrible wiggling white worms in all my containers of nuts and grains. One must be an immaculate housekeeper in the warm months…very irritating.

PnT; chickens are fun; here they attract all the foxes and coyotes looking for KFC and not minding a detour.. My sister lost all 14 of hers and the rooster…(and the dozen guinea fowl.)

nikipedia's avatar

Do you put the borax+honey outside to lure them away? Am house/cat-sitting and every time I put wet food out for kitty, an awesome swarm of ants instantly descends upon it. Have already drowned dozens (hundreds?) of the damn things washing the bowl out. Ant genocide is much harder than anticipated.

PupnTaco's avatar

It’s messy, but you can put this sticky product called Tanglefoot around the base of the bowl. Or what I do sometimes is set the bowl inside a pie tin and fill the tin with water. Ants usually won’t swim across and it helps negate the scent trail.

gailcalled's avatar

Niki: can you change to dry food? It is better for cat (you are paying for a lot of water), but if s/he is used to the wet stuff, you are out of luck. I would not put it where cat can try it. Where do you live? Or just grit your teeth until owners return and insist they take you out for a good dinner.

Just saw PnT’s suggestion of bowl and pie tin. I like that. Of course, your cat will leave damp footprints on floor and on your chest. My next T is going to have paw prints all over it.

nikipedia's avatar

Thanks both. Will try the pie tin and then the Tanglefoot—should I go to a pet store for it?

Kitty gets dry food too, but she seems to really prefer the wet food. We’re in San Francisco. Owner has done me a great favor (had no place to live, so house-sitting is ideal)—a couple ants are no big deal but would hate for her to come home and think I’ve let her house turn into an insect colony.

PupnTaco's avatar

Tanglefoot is sold at nurseries, maybe hardware stores. It’s a last resort and is usually only used outside.

In fact, I take it back – it could make the cat sick if it gets stuck in it, and it would definitely trash the carpet. Bad idea.

yannick's avatar

I love how this question has morphed from being “What do ants contribute to the ecosystem?” to being “What is the best way to perform mass genocide on ants?” =P

marinelife's avatar

Quit whining all of you, or I will box up our pest and ship it. We have plenty here. They are everywhere. You can almost always keep them out of your house via pest service, but not eradicate them totally, because they live everywhere outside. In big summer rains, they seek shelter. They fly too.

PupnTaco's avatar

< zips the lips >

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I absolutely despise the little buggers. The only contribution ants bring to my world is raising my blood pressure.

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