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.
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
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, who‘s 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 firstname.lastname@example.org