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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Get rid of Fire Ants safely, for a lot less $$


 

  As it warms up, birds eat anxiously, and hardly a thought is given to the weather. 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, not realizing that it also damages/kills pets, children and wildlife (including birds). It’s poison!!

Instead, 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, and a lot safer.

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 ake half a cup of this “base” 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. It instantly dissolves insects’ exoskeletons. In about 5 minutes there’s no ant activity at all. Later I just rake the ground smooth - and you'll forget it was ever there. A few days later, I’ll add beneficial nematodes to the soil to control fire ants long term.

 

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 northwestern68@yahoo.com

 

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