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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An inexpensive, natural fire ant control. One that's safe and actually works!

fire ant mound
 About this time of year, subterranean insects (such as fire ants) resurface and start to build nests/mounds. This is also the time of year when lots of people get bit by fire ants. Small children, pets and wildlife too – a few of which are seriously and permanently injured by the ants OR by the poison that's meant to kill the ants.

 You’d think that birds would eat them nearly to oblivion; and in ten, twenty or thirty generations they might. But fire ants are a relatively recent introduction to North America, and our birds haven’t figured out yet how to eat them safely.

For now, I control fire ants by soaking their mounds with a non-poisonous liquid compost solution. I don’t claim to be an etymologist, but this safe, homemade solution works for me – and costs less than 10% of what I’d pay for an advertised poison. And, if you get the queen, fire ants won't return.

I recommend a mixture of 40% compost tea, 40% orange oil and 20% liquid horticultural molasses (mixed thoroughly). Then I mix a half-cup of this mixture with one gallon of water, and saturate the fire ant mound with it. Pour slowly, making sure it soaks into the mound, and doesn’t just run off. (I use a stick to quickly break through the mound’s crust)

This natural solution doesn’t poison the fire ants (or children or wildlife or pets), it instantly dissolves the insects’ exoskeletons so they can’t walk, dig or eat. In about five minutes, there’s no ant activity. A few days later I’ll add beneficial nematodes to the soil to control fire ants long term.




OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.



  1. Where do you buy the things you use to make this mixture? Thanks!

    1. Any Garden Supply store with any knowledge at all stocks these things. If not, quickly go elsewhere. I get mine at Four Seasons nursery in Denton.