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From: Bill Shear <BILLS@hsc.edu>

>     From:  Leslie Liddiard   <liddiard@esn.net>   Hi All,   I am suddenly
>having a terrible time with those  tiny little red ants (no, not fire
>ants) in my beds, old and new alike.   Can't seem to get rid of them and
>diazanon has hardly phased them.  They  stop where ever they are and just
>move a little farther away.     Any suggestions???  Thanks.     Leslie
>Liddiard liddiard@esn.net Goldsboro, NC  

Are they doing any harm?  Ants bother irises and other plants only by
moving aphids around from plant to plant and protecting them (the aphids)
against predators.  But relatively few species of ants do this.  Generally
ants are benign in the garden because many species are predators on
caterpillars, etc.  Unless you know that these ants are harming your plants
in some way, my advice would be to leave them alone.  If you're using
diazinon you're messing with some powerful stuff.

This spring a colony of wood ants sprang up under one of my daylily clumps.
The roots of the clump were completely in the ant-hill.  Surprisingly, that
clump did better than most others.  The tunneling of the ants provided
aeration to the roots in heavy clay soil, the excavated dirt was a natural
mulch, and the wastes of the ants provided some needed nitrogen--or so I
would guess.

For information about ant natural history, try JOURNEY TO THE ANTS, by
Holldobler and Wilson.  Wonderful book.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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