Are ants in the grow room good or bad? Unfortunately, the answer to this question may be a tentative both. Spotting the occasional ant or two in your soil is not awful, especially if you’re using a living soil method of organic gardening. They are a natural part of the soil food web. Yet, they can also come with some pesky companions and should be monitored. A few scavengers? Okay. A colony? Not so good. Here’s how to prevent and reverse an ant takeover in a grow room.
Are ants in the grow room good or bad?
Like earthworms, ants break down nutrients in the soil, feeding plants. Ants can also help to aerate the soil, ensuring that it gets proper ventilation and plant roots get plenty of oxygen. Ants also scavenge for dead insects, recycling them back into the soil and creating more nutrients for the plant.
Where ants begin to cause problems is when they cause an infestation, making a home out of one of your plants. Ants belong in a healthy ecosystem. When your indoor ecosystem is dominated by ants, it’s a sign that things are out of balance and your overall plant health may be at risk.
Though ants are a vital part of the soil food web, they are not completely innocent. If you’re growing at home, having ants inside the house can possibly lead to an infestation in your kitchen if you’re not careful. Not to mention, ants are aphid ranchers.
This means that while they regularly kill and clean up aphids, an ant colony will also manage its environment by making a home for aphids that they will eventually slaughter and eat. Ants, like humans, appear to be clever farmers. Farmer ants actually secrete chemicals that subdue populations of aphids for eventual harvest.
While an ant or two here and there in a well-kept and monitored environment is not a major cause for concern, you certainly don’t want them to start ranching aphids on your beautiful cannabis plants. Outdoors, unless you notice ants causing serious problems or herding aphids, it’s best to let nature take its course.
Managing ants in the grow room
As a general rule of thumb, if you spot ants in your grow room that are not an intentional part of a managed indoor ecosystem, it’s best to take action. If an ant colony has taken up residence in your grow room, don’t panic. There are a few natural things you can do to prevent infestation and keep ants from getting out of hand. Here are a few ant management tricks.
There are a few natural things you can do to prevent infestation and keep ants from getting out of hand. Here are a few ant management tricks.
1. Watch for aphids and signs of imbalance
Ants and aphids tend to go together. Even though ants might eventually eat the aphids, you don’t want your cannabis to turn into an aphid farm. So, if you see some ants, also look for aphids. If you find both, the ants may need to go. Because ants tend to farm aphids, they are not the easiest insect for the average grower to use as aphid control.
So, if you see some ants, also look for aphids. If you find both, the ants may need to go. Because ants tend to farm aphids, they are not the easiest insect for the average grower to use as aphid control.
2. Treat with cinnamon, cayenne, or coffee
Ants are repulsed and killed with cinnamon, as well as cayenne pepper and coffee. Cinnamon is often considered the best. See one too many ants around your grow room? Sprinkle some ground cinnamon on your soil. If you’re able to follow their trail to a colony, you can add some extra powdered cinnamon around the area and treat with a cinnamon water solution.
If you’re able to follow their trail to a colony, you can add some extra powdered cinnamon around the area and treat with a cinnamon water solution.
If you’re in an ant-prone area, treating the top of your soil with ground cinnamon is a great preventative step. Ants will need to carry the cinnamon back to their colony, which causes them to freak out and stay away from the area. Always pH your natural concoctions before treating your plants.
3. Treat with diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth is amazing. Not only is it safe to use on pets and around the house for flea management, but it also can kill ants without harming your plants. Diatomaceous earth is made from crushed, fossilized diatoms. Under a microscope, the powdery stuff looks as sharp and jagged as glass.
The sharp edges pierce the exoskeletons of insects like ants, causing them to dehydrate and die. If using diatomaceous earth, make sure that the material won’t harm other beneficial insects that you are attempting to cultivate. Opt for the food-grade diatomaceous earth, not the kind used for pools.
Sprinkle diatomaceous earth and cinnamon around the outside of your greenhouse, grow, or raised beds to prevent an ant infestation.
4. Use other beneficial insects
Unless you really know what you’re doing, it’s not recommended to introduce ants to your grow room. Instead, it’s better to create a healthy and diverse soil food web, and if a few ants happen to join the party, that’s alright. Just make sure they don’t steal the show. Ants are not the only insects that can have positive benefits for soil.
Earthworms are excellent aerators and can keep your soil nice and tilled, limiting the need for ants. Earthworms also excrete expensive worm castings, which are basically pockets of beneficial nitrogen.
Ladybugs and praying mantises are frequently used in grow rooms, as these predatory bugs eat aphids, excrete nutrients into the soil, and keep harmful pests to a minimum.
Nematodes are microscopic, predatory organisms that can be found in healthy compost made from leaf litter and other organic matter.
To make your soil as healthy as possible, consider treating it with high-quality organic compost and microorganism-rich compost teas.