No, ants don’t eat grass. While ants are known to eat a wide range of foods, grass is not a part of their diet. Instead, ants prefer to protein-rich foods like insects and sugary substances like honeydew.
In this article we’ll learn more about the following:
- Why ants don’t eat grass
- Why ants are found in grass
- How ants damage grass
Why Don’t Ants Eat Grass?
Ants have evolved to focus their foraging efforts on protein-rich or sugary foods. Therefore, it’s likely that they don’t eat grass due to its lack of nutritional value. The cost of collecting grass far outweighs the nutrients it provides.
Why Are There Ants in Your Grass?
Ants are common in the grass and lawns for a few reasons. One of which is that grass can provide ants with food. While ants don’t eat grass, they do eat grass seeds. Also, grass can be home to many other insects and small animals that ants feed on.
Ants can also be in your grass for soil. There are many soil-nesting species that live underground. These ants dig and build interconnected tunnels in the soil. They especially like loose, well-drained soil that’s characteristic of maintained lawns.
How Do Ants Damage Grass?
Ants can become a problem when their colonies start growing out of hand. A fast-growing population begs for more resources and space for living quarters. That means more foraging and tunneling.
These seemingly basic activities can harm grasses through the following:
Loosening of Soil
Digging and tunneling can cause soil to loosen. While this can help aerate the soil, too much digging can uproot grass.
Root System Damage
Ants can also directly damage root systems by building their underground nests. As they expand, they can cut through the root zone of grasses and cause grass to wither.
The digging and tunneling efforts of soil-nesting ants often lead to ant mounds. These mounds serve as the entrance to ant nests. They’re made from deposits of the excavation and can grow to be as tall as bushes.
Ant mounds can be unsightly and a nuisance to well-maintained lawns. They can also block out the sunlight and slowly kill off grass.
See this article to learn more about ant mounds.
Leafcutter ants cut off the leaves of plants including grass. They don’t eat these leaves but take them to their nests to cultivate their fungal farms.
These cuts don’t usually lead to permanent damage. Depending on the severity, however, they can restrict nutrient supply and weaken grass.
How to Prevent Ants from Damaging Grass
There are many methods you can use to prevent ants from damaging grass and your plants in general.
The very obvious one, of course, is to avail of the services of a professional. They’ll know which treatment to apply and will most likely get rid of your ant problem.
If you want to do it out yourself though, you can try the following:
One of the easiest ways to deal with ant mounds is to rake and disperse them with water. This will prevent the mounds from growing too big and causing damage.
However, this method will not get rid of the ants underground. Meaning you’ll have to actively maintain these mounds as the ants are bound to create new ones.
Also, do be careful when raking. Mounds can contain aggressive fire ants that won’t hesitate to bite you to protect their nest.
Keep Soil Wet or Moist
You can keep ants away by keeping your soil wet or moist. Ants find these kinds of soil hard to navigate and prefer to avoid them.
Use Natural Repellants
You can add natural repellants to your garden to help keep ants away. These repellants include plants like peppermint, lavender, and catnip.
You can also use readily available kitchen spices such as cayenne and cinnamon. Sprinkle these around your garden to prevent ants.
If you prefer to keep things organic, you can use diatomaceous earth (DE). DE is a chalky powder made from diatom shells. It’s a non-toxic pesticide used to control ants and other pests.
Sprinkle it around your lawn and create a barrier to prevent ants. Just be sure to use food-grade DE as filter-grade ones are toxic to humans and pets.
Also, keep in mind that DE can also kill other animals with exoskeletons. These include other arthropods.
If infestations get out of hand, you can of course use chemical control. These include insecticides such as dust and baits. Apply these like DE or as instructed.
Be careful with them though as they may be toxic to pets and other animals.
Do Ants Eat Grass Seeds?
Yes, ants do eat grass seeds. In fact, ants are known to steal grass seeds for food. You’ll often find random patches of grass from seeds that ants have dispersed. This can be a problem if you’re trying to grow uniform lawns.
Do Ants Benefit Grass?
Yes, ants benefit grass and other plants in general. They provide them with many benefits including the following:
- Soil aeration
- Seed dispersal
- Protection from pests
See this article to learn more about how ants benefit grass and other plants.
To summarize, ants do not eat grass. They prefer to eat other high-protein or sugary foods. It seems that grass doesn’t provide them with enough nutrition to warrant attention.
That said, while ants don’t eat grass they can damage them. Some ants like leafcutters cut and collect grass. Other ants that live underground can also uproot grass or damage their root systems.