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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The trifecta !! Fire Ant control that's effective, safe and inexpensive.

Butchered crape myrtles

   As I write this, 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.

Fire 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 (ANYTHING!), not realizing that it also damages/kills pets, children and wildlife (including birds). It’s poison!!

Instead, I mix up a natural, homemade mixture - one that’s very effective, safe and inexpensive: it costs about a tenth of the brand-name stuff on store shelves. 
I make a batch of the ”base” every year or so from ingredients sold at most hardware stores. What's more, it works....safely!.

I 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 it 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 mound’s crust.)

This doesn’t poison anything. Instead 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.


Why would you pay somebody   Pay to make a mess of your car?  Slash the upholstery, pound dents in the metal etc.? Same for butchering your crape myrtles.
There is absolutely NO proof that it does any good. Just the opposite in fact. Butchering can weaken the plant (since a lot of nutrition goes to heal the wounds) so the plant may get infested with bugs, get some disease, or simply die. That's why dozens and dozens of horticultarists and botanical organizations don't recommend butchering. Typically they don't suggest cutting any growth that's thicker than a pencil.
The only people butchering benefits is the person doing the butchering.
Owen Yost, in addition to blogging, is a Landscape Architect emeritus from here, whos worked in north Texas for over 30 years.  He is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Society of Landscape Architects, the National BirdFeeding Society, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. He was honored with a Lifetime Achievement award by the Native Plant Society of Texas. His design office is at

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