Wood Chips as mulch vs. Ants

mmqchdygg(Z5NH)March 27, 2009

I'm considering mulching the paths in my veggie patch with wood chips. I'm in NH. What can you tell me about problems with ants, as DH seems to think that whenever he's heard anyone talking about having used WC, that they regret it because it brings in ants.

I usually have dry areas in my regular flower beds which tend to be perfect host areas for colonies of the smallish ants, but they don't seem to hurt anything and merely 'exist' in their little colonies. Course, if I accidentally dig one up while planting something, they let me know, and go into instant attack mode. (They aren't fire ants; we don't have those up here, but they are defensive little critters en masse!)

Thoughts?

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Do you have other alternatives to use as mulch? Reason I ask is that unless these are permanent paths and never incorporated into the garden, wood chips honestly aren't that effective at either weed suppression, moisture control, or soil improvement while many other mulches can accomplish all 3.

There is also a bit of concern about the nitrogen demands they may place on the soil and surrounding plants as they decompose. Plus they tend to jam in the tiller. ;)

And yes they can be "ant-attractive". But then so can other mulches so I wouldn't rule them out just because of the ants, more for the other reasons mentioned.

The link below is to several other discussions on the pros and cons of using wood chips as a mulch in the vegetable garden in case you want to browse through them. Just scroll down to the posts with the blue borders.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Wood chip mulch discussions.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 4:47PM
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jeannie7

Where an area is soaked often, ants believe its not a good place to stick around. Wood chips make the perfect place to hide though. Its shady, its rotting, its cool and mostly is left alone so it is a good place to set up home.
This goes for ear wigs and other moist home lovers.
I don't think ants would put up with it long.

Try the boric acid solution. Two teaspoons boric acid, in a cup of boiling water that you add a cup of granulated sugar to.
Let it cool some.
Obtain a few small containers -- small margarine containers would be ideal--which you poke holes into at the sides near the bottom to let the ants come in.
Into it, place as many cotton balls as will fit after you soak them in the boric acid solution.
Put the lid on so that friendly insects are not harmed....bees, wasps and such.
Place the containers in where you see the ants or on their trails.
They go in....the sugar is the come on---the boric acid is the poison which they take back to queenie.
she dies, the colony dies.

Place as many as you believe necessary around the garden.

An alternate thing to try. Sprinkle baking soda around the area. It wont harm plants but when ants walk through it, they take it into their tummies.
Baking soda is just bicarbonate of soda---when moistened turns to carbon dioxide gas. Ants cant burp.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 4:56PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

I have to disagree with Dave with regards to the supposed disadvantages of wood chips as mulch. I have used them extensively in my garden and they do suppress weeds, they do help keep moisture levels consistent, and they don't rob soil of nitrogen unless they are tilled into the soil. They do decompose quite nicely and do add tilth to the soil. Do they tend to attract ants? I would have to say yes, but their advantages totally outweigh any disadvantages in my experience.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 7:27PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Ants are a major part of Ma Natures recycling machine and are not the pests that many of us have been taught all our lives. I realize this is a paradigm shift and difficult for many people to understand, but ants clean up after us. Wood chips, in my experience, do not attract more ants, slugs yes, than any other mulch. If there is an increase in your ant population it would be because what you used for mulch provided a place for the ants food to be, and ants eat a lot of different kinds of food.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 8:07AM
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