Q: I am almost through building a three-bin compost project using concrete blocks. I have a couple of questions. First, I’m looking to keep ants out of my compost without using anything that will harm the good critters in the compost pile. Second, do you have any good references you might recommend for the care and maintenance of a healthy compost pile?
A: The simple answer is that if you keep the piles damp, and if you turn them occasionally, ants won’t be able to set up permanent housekeeping. They might build a mound at the edge of the pile but they usually don’t like living in such a moist environment. Further, ants can be a valuable part of a healthy compost pile. They, along with centipedes and beetles, feed on smaller consumers, like springtails, which in turn eat the fungi and bacteria that decompose your leaves and yard debris. Ants help by distributing nutrients throughout the pile. If ants become a nuisance, apply a bait, like Over ‘n’ Out(tm) near your bins.
Your local Extension office (404-897-6261) has several free composting brochures or you can download a good pamphlet.