Help! Ants ants ants
My last gardening task for the day was supposed to be to set up a couple of planters for herbs. I have a huge bag of potting soil that's been sitting in my back yard up against a tree for probably two years that I planned to use. When I picked it up after opening it, I realized much to my amusement that the old maple that it was up against had actually sent a small root up into the back with little root tendrils all throughout the dirt. But then after I picked it up and poured some into my planter (which was already 3/4 full, so I only needed a few inches), I realized that there was a big ant colony that had taken up residence under it (all these ant trails showing once I picked it up) and IN it -- the planter is now totally swarming with ants that clearly had been living in the bag. They're just very small black ants. I don't see any damage to the tree because of them (though I don't know), and they didn't bite when they were briefly covering my arm. But I have no idea if I can use that dirt now -- will those ants likely damage/destroy the basil and cilantro I'd planned on planting in that dirt? If I leave the planter out there for a couple of days, will the ants likely vacate? How about if I move the bag away from the main colony site -- will the ants likely leave the bag to return to the colony? If the dirt's not usable right now because of all the ants, if I spread it out somewhere is it likely to encourage the ants to leave and make the dirt usable? Help! I don't know anything about ants. They don't bother me, but I don't want to set myself up to have them destroy my herbs, either. I'm not interested in ways to destroy them unless they are without question something that could do damage to my tree/yard, and even if it's clearly in my best interest to get rid of them I'm not willing to use any chemicals that could cause harm to my yard, dogs, grandchildren, or me! Mostly I'd prefer to encourage them to leave my planter and potting soil.