Know More About The Benefits Of Ants In Your Garden, Home And Surroundings!
Ants are one of the most commonly found creature’s insides homes and outside in the gardens or backyards. These tiny creatures are beneficial to us and the environment in which we all dwell in. Read on to know more about the various benefits of having ants inside and around your homes. Ants are also considered as one of the most successful insects as they easily outnumber any other individual animal. They work slowly and steadily for the benefit of all organisms and the environment around them. They have been known to exist on earth since the time of dinosaurs. They have the power to dig up the soil about ten times faster than the soil dwellers, earthworms! They are said to excavate about thirty thousand pounds of soil per acre every year. Thus, they create about four inches of fresh dirt in this process.
Here are some of the agricultural advantages of ants in and around your home:
- Dispersing Of Seeds
This is one of the most commonly observed benefit of ants. They are great dispersers of seeds. Especially in the eastern parts of temperate forest areas, the ants help in dispersing woodland spring wildflowers like trout lilies, violets, and bleeding hearts. They also assist in dispersing seeds of flowering plants all around the country. As this dispersing activity of ants is highly beneficial, even the plants have altered their fruiting and flowering times to the period of high ant activity.
- The elaiosomes
The seeds which are dispersed by ants will have special attractants on their body. These are known as elaiosomes. It is rich in lipid content and hence is also called ‘fat bodies.’ The ants will collect seeds of plants with the elaiosomes and will take it back to their nests so that their larvae can feed on the elaiosomes. The undamaged seeds will be then left on the heap of wastes of the larvae. Thus, the seeds get protected from all possible seed predators and also gets planted in the waste heap of larvae with is rich in nutrient content.
- Aeration Of Soil
The ants help in aerating soil by building colonies and tunnels inside the surface of the soil. It also helps in cleaning up the soil and helping the plants to grow.
- Tilling Of Soil
Even though farmers often consider ant hills as an inconvenience, these small mounds of ants are also the first sign of the way in which ants help and play an essential role in the development of your yard or garden. The benefits of ants in your yard are many. The ants build plenty of tunnels inside the soil and thus turn over the soil almost as much as the earthworms do. Therefore, it helps in redistributing nutrient contents in the soil and also aerate the soil for the plants to grow well.
- Recycling And Decomposing Activities
Ants will feed on insects and other decomposing organic wastes in your gardens and backyards. Thus, they help in keeping the outside environment clean and tidy. The ants in vegetable garden bed help in decomposing the wastes and keeping the bed clean. Carpenter ants usually make nests in decomposed or dying wood. Thus, they help in getting the decomposition process done faster. When the ants leave the decomposed body of wood, bacteria and fungi start growing on it and breaks down the cellulose and lignin over the surface of the decomposed wood. Ants also help in the recycling process of wood. They act as great scavengers and collect all the dead insects lying around in your gardens or yards. They then convert these insects into useful manure for your plants.
Can Ants Help Pollinate? Yes! They Can! Read On To Know More!
If you are wondering whether ants can help in pollination, then the fact is that they do help in pollination of flowers! Studies prove that they help in the pollination of plants that grow in low areas and have small flowers which remain tight on their stems. Here are some other ways in which ants help plants:
Germination Of Seeds
It is said that ants play an important role right from the germination of seeds. Ants collect the seeds and carry them to different locations and store these seeds in their nests. The nests of ants are brimming with nutrients, and the seeds get to sprout safely, far away from drought conditions and predators. Thus, the plants get to thrive and grow up quickly in the wilderness.
The Planting Process
Ants play an essential role in the planting of wildflowers like trillium and violets. The seeds not only get a well aerated, nice and moist surface to grow but also get protection from all seed predators and rodents. The ants in yard pest control benefits help the plants to grow fast without being disturbed by pests or insects. The seeds planted by ants can withstand adverse climatic conditions easily and can also thrive in wildfires.
Protection Of Plants From Herbivores
The ants also help in protecting plants from the herbivores. The ants get lured by the nectar present in the sepals or stems of plants. The ants keep patrolling all over these plants and do not let the insects and herbivores on the plant to attack the plants in peace. They act as a natural insecticide and attack these pests interrupting their mating, egg laying, feeding and molting processes. For instance, the ants that keep crawling over all those sticky peony flower buds during the onset of summer season helps in protecting them from predators. The ants visit these flower buds to get the nectar produced inside the buds.
Cultivation Of Redbush Tea
Cultivating redbush tea was considered to be a complicated process. When the pods of seeds mature, it will rupture suddenly, and the seeds will shoot out. This made it difficult to find the seeds from places they fell into. Hence, farmers never get enough quantity of seeds to farm the plants. Soon, farmers discovered that there are certain species of ants which collect, harvest and then store these seeds in the nests. Thus, the farmers started to collect seeds from ant nests and then plant it to cultivate the tea successfully. This helped redbush tea to be available all over the world quickly.
Used In Suturing Wounds
Ants can be even used for suturing wounds! During the early days in Congo, people didn’t have any band-aids or first aid kits. They used ants instead for curing their wounds. The strong jaws of ants help in holding together wounds when no other options are available. The Dorylus breed of ants is used for this purpose. They have various other names like siafu, safari ants, and driver ants. They are the army ants usually found in eastern and central African regions. They are also found in the Asian areas too.
Learn About The Ecological Importance Of Ants In Detail!
Ants play an important role in balancing the ecological system. Let us take a look at how ants help the atmosphere around us:
Remove The Greenhouse Gases!
Ants always create positive impacts on the soil by mixing up layers of soil and by addition of nutrients into the soil. Ants play an important role in the breakdown of various minerals and also in the movement of the carbon dioxide gases into limestone (calcium carbonate) form. Thus, ants are believed to help in removing the greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere.
Weathering Of Minerals
Ants help in the weathering of minerals by 50x to 300x more times than the bare control of the ground. The carbonate percentage is subsequently increased within the nests of all species. Thus, ants might be the best solution to wipe away excess carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.
Collection Of Fossils
Ants also help in the selection of fossils. The harvester ants will pick up small-sized fossils and then drop it inside their mounds. Researchers can easily check the ant mounds and find fossils by sorting the ant mound piles. The studies about various mammals that lived in the time of dinosaurs were found by studying the fossils inside ant mounds. Even today, archeologists and paleontologists make use of small fossils found inside ant mounds to research and draw conclusions.
Source Of Taxonomic Materials
The mounds of harvester ants are an excellent source of getting taxonomic materials, mainly to get cryptic snail species.
Pest Control Benefits
The farmers make use of weaver ants to prevent tiny rodents, stink bugs and caterpillars from their orchards of citrus fruits. Nowadays, weaver ants are used in controlling all the citrus pests in various parts of North Australia. Ants also help in controlling pests, attacking insects, caterpillars and other harmful creatures that attack orchards, crops and aphids. Ants are estimated to kill about forty percent of the freshly hatched bugs and thirty percent of the flies that attack plants. Thus, ants are considered to be even more effective than store-bought pesticides. A single species of ant has the power to destroy more than twelve thousand insect larvae in a day!
Benefits Of Ants To Other Animals
Ants also benefit other animals as they feed on various insects and their larvae whereas, different other animals feed on ant mounds as their food. Many vertebrates and invertebrates feed on ants. There are insectivorous insects and woodpeckers which feed on ants. Bears also feed on ants by attacking the trees in which they live and feeding on the pupae and larvae of ants. Various birds also depend on ants for their food and survival.
The Herd Ants
Herd ants are often like the goatherds. During night time, the ants will herd the caterpillars inside the bushes, and the caterpillars will start feeding on plants. When the morning dawns, the ants will herd the caterpillars back into their nest to take rest. If anyone dares to disturb the caterpillars while they are feeding, half the army of ants will attack the intruder whereas the other half will protect the caterpillars and herd them safely back into the nest. This helps in improving the number of butterflies in your garden as they can get lured by the increased activity of insects.
Ants Might Be Small In Size, But Their Benefits Are Numerous!
Ants, even if they are too tiny creatures, can be very beneficial to the environment, plants, and animals. It helps to save money and time if used correctly. They help in controlling pests and cleaning up the environment. Thus, they are real blessings in disguise!