I’ve had a trauma in the garden this week. I was sitting on my home made slate garden bench with two friends when I suddenly noticed a trail, well actually more like a 5th column, of ants heading up a nearby foxglove to an aphid farm which they were obviously cultivating on the top. Ants enjoy eating honeydew from aphid bottoms, and so brown nose their way into the ant’s affection by fending off aphid predators like ladybirds. I know that ants love to make nests under bits of slate. So when I built my slate bench into the soil (I didn’t want to lay down a piece of inappropriate decking and stick a couple of plastic chairs on it) I tried to avoid any ants in my pants scenario by putting down a permeable membrane underneath the slate. This I now know to have been hopelessly naïve. The little darlings loved it in there. All warm and cosy with just enough room between the layers to make a nice safe entrance to the nest. Anyone who has ever removed a stone to find an ants nest underneath will know what it is like to feel the fear. The sound of thousands of disturbed ants preparing to attack whatever monster comes their way is positively primeval, or maybe even prime evil. It sent this goody goody be kind to nature gardener into a cold shiver, not to mention something of an ethical dilemma. Having made a vow not to pour boiling water over ants in my book The Little Book of Garden Heroes its left me with a battle between my tired ass and my overconcious mind. I can’t believe many people would be sitting (or not sitting) there thinking ants or me, ants or me. They’d be switching on the kettle within seconds. What if there really isn’t a better way. I don’t mind killing horse flies. They hurt. And so do ants. But then if you don’t disturb them they’re not interested in human flesh so what’s the problem. The problem is I can’t park my butt on my bench that’s the problem. In fact for the time being, until I resolve this problem the bench is no more. The slate dismantled. The membrane ripped off the soil. At least the huge ant colony that had made its home under there is scattered with all their little eggs to another part of the garden but I’m now down to one comfortable garden chair – a deck chair I found at the local junk yard. Still, I’m going to Glastonbury next week and there’s always a huge amount of ‘tatting’ to be done when the throw aways go home. I’ll pick up a couple of left behind chairs no problem. In the meantime has anyone got any ideas of what I can use to control ants in a biologically sound way, ie no chemicals, no hot water. Has anyone used the biological control ant nematode Steinernema feltiae, and does it work? Would be good to hear from any humane ant battlers out there.