There’s nothing like spending a relaxing summer evening in the yard: tossing a ball with your loved ones, playing fetch with the dog, and soaking up the long days, warm air, and the intoxicating scent of your freshly cut, perfectly manicured lawn. But wait, what’s that odd little lump in the grass? And what’s that crawling up your leg? 

As the soft ground and domed ceiling of an ant hill begin to give way, out come hundreds of workers, prepared to defend their home from anyone or anything, including you, your children, or your pets! 

Not only are these little arthropods a nuisance to humans and pets, but they can also cause severe damage to your yard, specifically lawns and gardens. As ant hills dry out and disrupt the soil beneath your previously lush lawn and healthy garden, you’ll notice uneven ground, dying vegetation, and an unsightly, unkempt appearance. Additionally, ants may attract other pests such as aphids, causing further damage that could easily ruin your annual backyard harvest! 

In this article, we’ll go over why there are ant hills in your yard, why there are so many, and what’s going on inside of them. Further, we’ll go over some ant exterminator methods of what you can do to evict these pesky insects from your yard.   

Why Are There So Many Ant Hills in My Yard?

Even one ant hill in your lawn or garden can be a nuisance, let alone multiple! So if at first you notice a single, don’t be surprised when other hills begin to pop up throughout your yard.

The primary reason you may find anthills appearing in your yard is due to access to resources required to live and reproduce. You’ll likely notice the appearance of ant hills if your yard has regular access to:

  •  Water
  •  Food sources
  •  Preferred soil conditions 

As stated previously, ants tend to settle in areas with close access to essential resources, namely food and water. Reliable sources of water often include 

  • Standing water 
  • Bird baths
  • Fountains
  • Leaking pipes 

Next, ants require a constant source of food to survive, multiply, and satisfy the needs of their growing colony. Ants are omnivorous, eating nearly anything that supplies nutrients, such as 

  • Fruits 
  • Saps 
  • Living or deceased invertebrates
  • Insect eggs 
  • Honeydew produced by aphids 

Additionally, ants will snack on any such items they can find, wherever they can acquire them, whether throughout your yard, in your garbage cans, or in your home.   

Lastly, ants prefer settling in soil with conditions that allow for efficient building. These preferred conditions are dry, well-drained, sandy soil that is relatively loose and experiences hours of direct sunlight throughout the day.

If you’ve been struggling with numerous ant hills on your property, the odds are that your yard satisfies all of the above conditions and then some. As ants move in, their scents attract additional ants, leading to a large, interconnected web of ant hills and a mass infestation.  

ants require a constant source of food to survive

How Do I Treat an Ant Hill in My Yard? 

If you’re tired of tripping over anthills while playing with your kids or pets in the yard, there’s some good news: there are several quick, easy, and effective methods to get rid of ants. While some methods are safer than others for use around pets and small children, several exist, and all can be accomplished with nothing more than some over-the-counter/household supplies. 

One of the safest and least damaging methods of treating an anthill is to use straight boiling water. While this method requires some laborious and time-consuming effort to boil up to three gallons of water, it’s entirely free, contains no harmful chemicals or pesticides, and provides immediate results. However, boiling water often will not kill an entire colony, only those ants residing directly beneath the ant hill. 

Another method of treatment is using various spices that ants find unappealing. Spices such as cinnamon, black pepper, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, and cloves are some of the primary scents that ants cannot tolerate. Creating a mixture of water and any one of these spices to soak the anthill with will quickly make their home uninhabitable, forcing them to migrate elsewhere. While this method will force ants to move, they may simply migrate to another location on your property, failing to solve the issue at hand. 

Other non-toxic methods include vinegar and water soaks, as well as sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the colony’s entrance. This mixture of fossilized phytoplankton and algae literally sucks the life from the anthill, absorbing any moisture in the dirt or the ants themselves, killing any ants that come into contact with the substance. 

More toxic yet highly effective methods include boric acid/sugar treatments and insecticides. Mixing boric acid and sugar with a hint of water creates an irresistible paste that ants will rush towards and bring back into the colony, unknowingly poisoning the other workers and queen. These methods are often the last resort in the event of a rampant infestation.

In the event that you’d rather leave the exterminating to a professional, most pest experts can easily and efficiently eradicate ant infestations in as little as a day.  

Should You Get Rid of Ant Hills on Your Lawn?

In general, ants are essential for the health of your yard. They’ll aerate and fertilize your soil, promoting lawn and plant growth. However, there are several factors that cause them to be considered a nuisance pest. 

Ants, like most things, are fine in moderation; however, if you’ve noticed even one ant hill in your yard, then there are too many. Ant colonies can severely disrupt the beauty of your yard with their own form of landscaping, negatively impacting your home’s aesthetic. 

Ant colonies are also known to farm aphids for their honeydew, increasing the aphid population, which can negatively impact plants and gardens. Additionally, ants dry and disturb the soil, affecting plant life and vegetation. 

Lastly, ants can pose an inconvenience to humans and pets. Not only do some species, such as fire ants, have the capacity to bite and sting, but they also won’t hesitate to migrate into your home when resources are scarce outdoors. 

So should you remove ant hills? By that point, the ant population has already skyrocketed to the point of infestation. If they affect your landscaping and ability to enjoy your yard, feel free to treat the affected areas and reclaim your property. 

What Happens Inside an Ant Hill? 

In simple terms, ant hills are the entrance and exit of the shelter that exists beneath the mound, often in the form of an intricate tunnel system snaking its way through the dirt. Colonies require shelter to protect the queen and her larvae, allowing the colony to grow efficiently and produce additional workers. 

The ant hill is the result of hundreds to thousands of worker ants digging their tunnels and bringing dirt, rocks, sediment, and plant material to the surface. Ant hills do an excellent job of regulating the temperature inside the shelter and protecting the colony from weather conditions and predators. 

So with the information gathered today, why are there so many ant hills in your yard? Your yard likely has the perfect elements necessary for the survival and reproduction of ants. From excellent soil conditions to access to food and water, your yard features everything necessary to preserve and expand the colony. 

As the colony grows, so does the underground shelter system and the number of entrances and exits (i.e., the ant hills). 

While ants are actually beneficial for your yard in moderation, the sight of ant hills signals an infestation; and if you’re unhappy with their unattractive appearance and the sheer volume of ants in your yard, don’t hesitate to attempt one of the previously outlined treatment methods or get ahold of your local pest experts below.   

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