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Leaf Cutter ants KILLING MY BEDS!

 
Ginna Quesada
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Hey there I live in Costa Rica, and just started 3 no till vegetable beds... i had big doubts about my no till working, yet i had beautiful sprouts of malabar spinach and others. Suddenly yesterday a huge colony of ZOMPOPAS (leaf cutters) came in and killed everything. This household has had many zompopa colonies in the past, and we have tried most methods to get rid of them (boiling water, digging out their nests and burning them, using crysanthmum concentrate, tobacco concoctions).... and i am soon to begin with orange peel water.... but i have huge doubts about it working.

do any of you have any suggestions? that aren’t as expensive as eucalyptus oil

some help would be greatly appreciated!
thank you all
Ginna
 
Marion Johnson
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Have you tried habeñeros tea? Spray it on plants and pour down nest holes.
 
Ginna Quesada
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Nope but i surely will!!! thanks!
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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you can read all about diatamaceous earth on this site, but if you need it to work right now, i would suggest boric acid. fine powder, usually called roach powder. heavy powder sold for biodiesel, is too heavy/large to work.

encircle the holes for a couple days, then blow it in. Will have to do it once a week, then once a month, then once a year.
 
Fred Morgan
steward
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Hi Ginna,

I live in Costa Rica too and know a lot about leaf cutters, having 350 hectares of forestry.

The solution for leaf cutters is kill the fungus. They cultivate fungus on the leaf debris, which is also why it is hard to kill them, since they reject anything that is bad for the fungus pile. There are products out there that are fungicides, direct application to the ant hill normally does the trick, or make a band around your plantings, they touch it, and return, it will wipe out the fungus pile.

Changing PH will often result in killing the fungus too, like pouring wood ashes on top of the ant hill.

By the way, for the nasty fire ants, boiling water is by far the best, I tried everything, and nothing worked for long, but they sure don´t recover from being cooked. lol

I do believe the ferreterias (local hardware stores / farm store for those who don't live here) have fungicide especially formulated for leaf cutters.
 
Chris Kott
Posts: 796
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Are there any animal controls for them? Will chickens eat them, or is it like army ants, who might eat the chicken? Also, would French marigolds work? Their root systems exude an insecticide so potent that you only need grow them once every three years or so to get the insecticide effect, although that's at the root zone, and it might only work if you plant them on the ant hills. As to the fungus, is it one kind only, and does it colonise only specific types of plant, and furthermore, do pigs like the fungus? Or is the fungus toxic?

-CK
 
Morgan Morrigan
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Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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and i'll bet the fungicide is boric acid.....
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Chris Kott wrote:Are there any animal controls for them? Will chickens eat them, or is it like army ants, who might eat the chicken? Also, would French marigolds work? Their root systems exude an insecticide so potent that you only need grow them once every three years or so to get the insecticide effect, although that's at the root zone, and it might only work if you plant them on the ant hills. As to the fungus, is it one kind only, and does it colonise only specific types of plant, and furthermore, do pigs like the fungus? Or is the fungus toxic?

-CK


One thing to realize is that the ant hills are times are so large that if a horse steps on it and collapses, you can lose the horse, no, this is not an exaggeration. Without attacking the fungus, you are getting nowhere, chickens might eat them, but that is expected by the colony, won't really slow them down.

A pig, trying to dig out this fungus, would quickly quit, due to the depth and also the guard ants, which are pretty large, and definitely aggressive, and in a large colony, dangerous. By the way, a trick by the indigenous people reputedly was if in the forest, and cut badly, to stomp near a colony, so the guards come out. Then, grab one at a time, pressing their pincers across the wound, after they pinch, remove the body, leaving just the head. The head will remained pinched for 25+ hours. A natural suture?
 
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