Is there any place ants won't nest?



Hi,
I am doing a class project on ants and I am just wondering is there anything that ants do not like to build nests near or close to, I know they like to build nests on geopathic stress lines but is there anything that they don't like to build on?
kind regards,
Joseph


Hello Joseph:

Thanks for your question to the Ant Blog! For the first part of my response, I'd like to say that different sorts of ants, among the almost 14,000 species known, have different nesting preferences. So, for example, one would not find characteristically arboreal ants nesting in soil, nor would soil ants nest under bark of a living tree. Some species prefer particular soil types, such as sandy and well drained, or dark, moist and rich. At larger scales, grassland ant species are unlikely to be found nesting in a forest, nor tropical ants in a region with a winter season.

But, I'm guessing that your question refers to species of "generic" soil-nesting ants. These often appear not very fussy about where they locate their nests. Such ants may be found nesting in soils with all sorts of textures and moisture levels. Studies have demonstrated that there are ants nesting at nuclear bomb test sites, where toxic metals have been mined, and areas reduced to ash and heat-sterilized soil by wildland fires. I've even found nests of ants in soil so toxic that no plants could grow in it, on military land, created by incineration of "unexploded ordinance".

On the other hand, one consistent pattern I've noticed over the years is that soil nesting ants do not usually nest in soils that are compact and saturated (covered with water) after rains. For example, the lawn around my house has patches with numerous ant nests, and others where there are none. After heavy rains, it becomes clear that the ant-free zones are slightly lower, and water pools in them for a while before soaking into the ground or evaporating.

James C. Trager of the Ask Ant Team

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