Of the black, red and yellow ants that are commonly seen in the garden, only the red ones (from the Myrmica species) sting. Other than that, ants are more of a nuisance than a pest. They feed mostly on insects, including other ants, and honeydew, the sweet sticky substance that aphids excrete. Ants are known to defend aphids against predators in return for a harvest of honeydew.
Container-grown plants start to wilt. When you check the pot you notice ant tunnels, and that compost has been moved away from the plant’s roots. On the lawn or between the cracks in paving slabs, heaps of fine soil appear.
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No real damage is caused to any plant
Ants are persistent and it’s almost impossible to eliminate them in the garden. You can flush them out from containers by giving the compost a thorough drenching with water. Repeat as necessary, although take care not to drown your plants.
Keep ants off the benches in a greenhouse by wrapping a grease band around each bench leg, or standing the legs on a block of wood in a dish of water. Use a stiff brush to remove ant hills in the lawn.
There are many ant killer products on the market, but they are mostly more effective at killing ants that stray indoors, than complete nests in the garden.