Written by an area Landscape Architect and birdwatcher with over 30 years of experience with landscaping in north Texas: what works and what doesn't. Emphasis on attracting birds to north Texas yards, and reducing required yard maintenance. Tips, trivia and proven advice for a natural, low-cost approach for this unique and sensitive part of the country.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015
A safe, inexpensive fire ant killer that you'll need real soon!
I write this, there is a crust of ice and sleet on the landscape. Birds eat anxiously,
and hardly a thought is given to the regular spring happenings. Spring will be
here very soon, however. It’ll bring the nice stuff like flowers and warm days.
But it will also bring fire ants.
ant mounds erupt in unexpected and inconvenient places each spring. So, many homeowners
rush to a store and buy anything that promises to kill fire ants, not realizing
that it also damages/kills pets, children and wildlife (including birds). It’s poison!!
I mix up a natural mixture - one that’s very effective, safe and inexpensive. I
make a batch of the ”base” every year or so from ingredients at most hardware
stores. The cost is about a tenth of the poisonous commercial stuff.
suggest a mixture of about 40% compost tea, 30% orange oil and 30% liquid horticultural
molasses (mixed thoroughly). You can mix up a batch of this “base” now and keep
it ready. When the time comes to eradicate a mound I take half a cup of this
mixture, mix with one gallon of water, and saturate the fire ant mound with it.
Pour slowly to saturate the mound, and let it soak in – not run off. (I use a stick to quickly break through the
doesn’t poison anything. It instantly dissolves insects’
exoskeletons. In about 5 minutes there’s no ant
activity at all. 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 Yost87@charter.net in Denton.