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The role of ants

 
elle sagenev
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We have large hills of ants on our property. I've been trying to kill them, they're mean red ants that bite something awful. My kids always manage to find them. Also, they decimate all the greenery around their hills. The one thing I can say for them is that when digging their hills out I noticed the dirt in them is a lot nicer than the dirt around the rest of our property. We have clay and it's not good. So what is their role? Should I allow them to live?
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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Hello Danielle,

I will suggest a couple of things and hopefully they work for you.

Ants aerate the ground, put dead organisms and frass (both are fertility) into the ground and can keep some harmful (to crops and garden) insects at bay. I would recommend trying to manage them at first and if you don't want them after understanding their role try to push them out.

To manage, try to make lizard and horny toad habitat. Put a medium size pile of rocks, or wood pile, close to the ant holes as lizard habitat. Sometimes a flat surface so the lizards can do their push-ups

To push them out you can change the moisture of the soil. If the soil becomes too moist they are prone to fungal infection and they will move away. Placing a compost pile, a lot of moist rotting vegetation or a grey-water outlet to help keep the soil moist. The reason they kill the plants around the ant mound is because the roots, fungi, and soil-building start to bring moisture where they don't want it.

Another push idea, that I've heard about but never done before is to put vinegar in a "C" shape around their ant mount. The vinegar is suppose to ruin their chemical trails and they will start to move the hive in the direction of the open part of the C.

Thus, vinegar in C--> ants move ; vinegar in C ---> ants move ; repeat as necessary
Supposedly you can push them off your property with this method but it may take a couple months.

 
elle sagenev
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Brett Andrzejewski wrote:Hello Danielle,

I will suggest a couple of things and hopefully they work for you.

Ants aerate the ground, put dead organisms and frass (both are fertility) into the ground and can keep some harmful (to crops and garden) insects at bay. I would recommend trying to manage them at first and if you don't want them after understanding their role try to push them out.

To manage, try to make lizard and horny toad habitat. Put a medium size pile of rocks, or wood pile, close to the ant holes as lizard habitat. Sometimes a flat surface so the lizards can do their push-ups

To push them out you can change the moisture of the soil. If the soil becomes too moist they are prone to fungal infection and they will move away. Placing a compost pile, a lot of moist rotting vegetation or a grey-water outlet to help keep the soil moist. The reason they kill the plants around the ant mound is because the roots, fungi, and soil-building start to bring moisture where they don't want it.

Another push idea, that I've heard about but never done before is to put vinegar in a "C" shape around their ant mount. The vinegar is suppose to ruin their chemical trails and they will start to move the hive in the direction of the open part of the C.

Thus, vinegar in C--> ants move ; vinegar in C ---> ants move ; repeat as necessary
Supposedly you can push them off your property with this method but it may take a couple months.



So this is a google image of our property. You see all the spots? Those are ant piles.
property.png
[Thumbnail for property.png]
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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My Permaculture instructor would say "What are you doing to create ant heaven?"

Are you growing a lot of small seed plants/weeds? Do you have a aphid farm, or do the ants have an aphid farm on your property? Something else? What they heck are all those ants eating?
 
elle sagenev
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Brett Andrzejewski wrote:My Permaculture instructor would say "What are you doing to create ant heaven?"

Are you growing a lot of small seed plants/weeds? Do you have a aphid farm, or do the ants have an aphid farm on your property? Something else? What they heck are all those ants eating?


Well this is it exactly, we're not growing anything. We've got weeds, that's it. That's why I'm trying to save the land with permaculture. It was farm land, wheat. The fields around us are still farmed for wheat. So the ground has been farmed out. I planted 10 bushes on Saturday and found no bugs in the soil while digging all those holes.

I've no idea what they are eating honestly. They kill everything around them. I hate them! But the dirt they are in seems a lot better than all the other dirt so I wasn't sure if I should be killing them or not.
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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I don't have all the solutions nor is my solution easy but your going to have to start small and work your way outwards. Try to moisten the soil around your house, say a 10 foot radius.

Here are some techniques for you:

1) Get your neighbors straw after harvest and place either entire bundles right on top of the ant hill. You are then going to need to keep these bundles moist with water (rain, well, pump). When they pop up a new hole you'll want to cover that one with a straw bundle too.

2) You want mimic nature and a natural prairie. Thus, break some of the straw bundles and cover the ant hills with about 6 inches of straw. You will then want to get manure from your local herbaviore (cow, sheep, bison, yak, etc.) and cover the straw pile with manure say about 2 inches. You then want to get the straw/manure piles wet with water (rain, well, pump) and keep them moist. Don't put your fingers in or check the moisture, just guess, don't get bitten! To keep the straw from blowing away in your famous Wyoming winds you want to cover them with something heavy and cheaply available (branches, wooden pallets).

To do your entire property it may take a couple of years. Yet, you will be building rich healthy soil on your property at the same time getting rid of your ants. I wish you lots of luck and patience. It will not be easy. You've obtained land that is out of balance from all the wheat farms around you. The ants collect all the wheat droppings during wheat harvest and store so much food in their colonies that they don't need anything else to eat all year.

I won't blame you if you try some more modern techniques too. I have my doubts on them: If you pour gasoline till saturation on their holes you will find it very expensive and also bad for the ground. If you try the ant poisons you will also find it quite expensive, toxic, and only partially effective as the ants already have plenty of wheat seeds to eat. If you till the entire land you will have some very angry ants and most of their colony will be intact as they can be 5 to 10 feet deep.

I believe in you, your family to be able to get it done.
 
Dan Boone
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If they are building good soil in the hills, I think I would dig that soil up (if you can find a safe way) and use it elsewhere. This will probably reduce ant activity over time, and give you some great raised beds (or whatever you do with the soil).
 
Matu Collins
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Ants are amazing. Once, in the woods in Sweden I saw any hills made of one needles that were easily six feet tall.

Their ingenuity and work ethic allow them to move into such a variety of niches. I like the above advice about covering the hills with straw or other organic material and keeping it wet. In fact, I like that advice even without the anthills! Good way to build gardens

I have had the experience of hating certain types of living things here in my little permaculture paradise. The deer ticks still get to me. Bindweed used to infuriate and exasperate me so! Now bindweed is my constant companion and one of my favorite research topics. I won't say I like it, but I don't hate it anymore.

Ants are a real bummer when I disturb their nests, and especially when my children disturb their nests. I remember one sad time when the twins were two, poor guys- they thought they had found a good place to dig, then they were covered from head to toe and in their undies. Yow!

As you continue your permaculture design process, keep building the soil with organic materials and observe the ants closely. They are doing good work for you, as long as they aren't biting anyone or getting into the honey. Make lovely gardens and build biodiversity and keep us posted on your progress.
 
elle sagenev
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Thanks everyone. I'll do what I can. I have tried poisons of various organic and unorganic variety. Never kills them off. Lately I've dug as deep as I could and hoped mother nature would drown the little, *cough*. I'll try mulching in those holes. I don't know how I can let them stay. They kill all plant life in their vicinity with the digging and killing of roots. We have over 6' round dead zones with these ant hills. The ones around the house are heavily poisoned. My kids have a way of standing only where ants are.... I once went about digging them up and throwing them in to the chickens. They didn't eat enough of them and then I just divided the ants into new homes.... lol
 
leila hamaya
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theres something about ants, the way they are so focussed and industrious, or something like this, that makes me feel bad when i have to kill them. if only they werent so annoying with getting in my food!
besides that they just go about minding their business and seem so gentle somehow, i do feel a bit of guilt to actually kill them, when it must be done.
plus ever since i heard the stories about how they saved the HOPI - here and here, those myths got stuck in my head. i really do think of that when i start to get PO'd about them getting into the food.

something i have done that seemed to help minimize their presence, mix sugar with borax and then leave it where they will get to it. the sugar is bait, the borax is poison to them, and not that toxic to other things, compared to most poisons.
 
John Alabarr
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Why do people want to kill ants? They are very important in nature. They sound like harvester ants. Why not let them be?
 
leila hamaya
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well i havent ever experienced a biting variety. that would probably change my perspective.

i have though had masses of them living in the walls at my old place. it was pretty crazy how they would get into my food, within a few hours, even when i went extraordinary legnths to try to move it around, put certain things in hanging baskets, or whatever else, and within a few hours there would be a line of ants all walking back and forth to the new spot.

they would climb all the way up the rafters and then walk down the rope of the hanging baskets. it might have slowed them down, but they would still get into it even in the hanging baskets.it was definitely annoying, so i started having to try to kill them, even though i felt bad about it. i am wimp about killing things, even ants =(
 
elle sagenev
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John Alabarr wrote:Why do people want to kill ants? They are very important in nature. They sound like harvester ants. Why not let them be?


They are red ants that bite. I have toddlers. On that alone I want to kill them. The black ants I never bother. Other than that did you miss the part where I said they kill everything around them? I have 6' circles of dead where the ant hills are.
 
elle sagenev
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leila hamaya wrote:theres something about ants, the way they are so focussed and industrious, or something like this, that makes me feel bad when i have to kill them. if only they werent so annoying with getting in my food!
besides that they just go about minding their business and seem so gentle somehow, i do feel a bit of guilt to actually kill them, when it must be done.
plus ever since i heard the stories about how they saved the HOPI - here and here, those myths got stuck in my head. i really do think of that when i start to get PO'd about them getting into the food.

something i have done that seemed to help minimize their presence, mix sugar with borax and then leave it where they will get to it. the sugar is bait, the borax is poison to them, and not that toxic to other things, compared to most poisons.


I did use the sugar and borax. Perhaps I didn't use enough where I did place it but I haven't noticed a difference yet.
 
Devon Olsen
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ive never tried too terribly hard to irradicate ants in any of my projects but there is a pile that i recently rid myself of when we were preparing the family garden plot, the pile got tilled over probably 2-3 times, once when the family was tilling so maybe an inch or two, then again when i went back and tilled deeper and slower, i purposely went over the ant hill about 12 times when i did that, and when we were done tilling that spot, i dumped about 2 quarts of diatomaceous earth on them, and then covered that with some trash blowing around the property to prevent the rain from wetting the DE, then we came back and hand dug the spot when we were shaping the raised beds on contour (well sorta, i was very sleep deprived when i made the water level so most of the beds are a little bit off)
we have done a bit of flood irrigation on the spot (450 gallons at a time so a row and a half at a time) and mulched the beds themselves with a light layer of hay so that may have helped, but the hill has not resurfaced in the same spot at least
one hill on the property doesnt have that dead spot, i think that one is very pretty, maybe ill post a pic if i ever get time to start a new thread on that seperate project
this property im refferring to is a bit north of casper
we do get horny toad in wyoming but they are few and far between so id imagine you would have to make some decent habitat for them before you would see any big difference from them

another thing you may consider - i have heard but need to look up at a later time, of a guy who melts aluminum cans down to liquid and then pours it down ant holes, effectively making a cast or mold of the anthill and mapping out the structure the ants create under the soil, id imagine molten metal would effectively kill the critters in the hill and perhaps you could make a bit of money selling the aluminum "maps"
best of luck to you and yours
 
Chris Badgett
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Here's a great video about the role of ants in permaculture:



I liked what he said about coexisting with ants in a symbiotic relationship.
 
elle sagenev
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Chris Badgett wrote:Here's a great video about the role of ants in permaculture:



I liked what he said about coexisting with ants in a symbiotic relationship.


Well that's what I'm trying to figure out. What, exactly, do the ants do for me? You know, other than bite and kill plant life.
 
Tom Connolly
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I used to live on land that was once riverbed - and was only 2 miles from the river. We had constant ant problems in the house. What I did was to use chemical sprays outside 2 times a year, beginning of spring and beginning of winter. When I found ant colonies at other times, I would use a mixture of either bleach and water or ammonia and water on the individual ant colonies and spray around the area with a water/vinegar solution. My first response to these outdoor nests was "live and let live" but I found out shortly that they used their small condos as a stepping stone to get into my house. When I found ants inside I first used bleach to kill them and then used a water/vinegar solution on their trail (maybe bleach would work also but I found the scent of vinegar to be more acceptable. I think I later changed to lemon scented ammonia.) Ants supposedly remember where they went by scent, so the theory is that vinegar removes the scent. I also spent a year with a caulking gun filling even the smallest holes I could find that would let them in. After the second year, I seldom had problems with ants, especially with the massive invasions that used to happen.

RE: your outside "tenants", I like the idea of gradually changing the composition of the soil to make it undesirable for them. If you want faster action, especially around your home and where your children play, why not raise horntoads or lizards outside in that area? Are there some kinds of spiders that are especially fond of ants? How about anteaters? small varieties of snakes? Keep in mind that if you change the fauna of your ecosystem there will be larger changes than you might think. For example, if you start raising lizards outside, eventually you may find that you have more snakes on your property, i.e. the snakes will come to eat the lizards. Think ahead. If the snakes in your area are non-poisonous, I would rather have too many lizards and horntoads and snakes than that kind of ant. I have heard of people using gasoline to get rid of ants, but the folks that I know usually followed pouring gasoline into the holes with a match chaser, set them on fire and let them burn out. It is not something that I would recommend for your property, but I think you are going to have to do something quickly to provide yourself an ant-free house and an ant-free zone around your home for your children to play. Some of these ways may not be healthy for the soil but may be healthy for kids. You will probably have to have multiple goals, one for each need, and one strategy for each goal.

This site may be helpful. Make sure you check with your local ag department before you import a new species to your area. http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-ant-enemies.php
 
S Bengi
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There are quite a few fungi that kills ants. Here is one.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophiocordyceps_unilateralis
 
Devon Olsen
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as you probably know living in wyoming, the likelihood of the humidity being high enough for effective cordyceps treatment isnt very high around most of this state (sorry Bengi, i do love your idea best as far as quick fixes go, and would love to watch the cordyceps infect an ant colony or two, i bet it would be fascinating to watch) but something that tom brought up has me thinking, im not sure if they would invite spiders that like ants but junipers seem to call very loudly to spiders and make a very welcome habitat for them, perhaps a few low lying bushes of juniper near the ants - careful though im not sure what spiders they would bring and many (but not all) of the low lying junipers are Not so edible as their larger counterparts and are sometimes poisonous

another thought... though i think it may be too cold up here for them to inhabit the area, ant lions love to eat ants, hence the name, the only habitat they really require is pure, loose and warm sand, the burrow on down and wait for the ants to fall into their hungry mouths
 
S Bengi
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If the ants are building your soil you might want to find ways to encourage them so that they can supercharge your soil.
Once they are "done" I have heard that mixing 1part cornmeal+1part baking soda+1part sugar work wonders.
 
Marcus Hoff
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To rephrase Mollison:
You don't have an ant problem, you have a chicken deficiency
 
elle sagenev
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Marcus Hoff wrote:To rephrase Mollison:
You don't have an ant problem, you have a chicken deficiency


I've dug up the hills and thrown them in the chicken run before. I find the chickens are a bit reluctant to eat these biting ants. They do bite, it's painful.
 
elle sagenev
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Devon Olsen wrote:as you probably know living in wyoming, the likelihood of the humidity being high enough for effective cordyceps treatment isnt very high around most of this state (sorry Bengi, i do love your idea best as far as quick fixes go, and would love to watch the cordyceps infect an ant colony or two, i bet it would be fascinating to watch) but something that tom brought up has me thinking, im not sure if they would invite spiders that like ants but junipers seem to call very loudly to spiders and make a very welcome habitat for them, perhaps a few low lying bushes of juniper near the ants - careful though im not sure what spiders they would bring and many (but not all) of the low lying junipers are Not so edible as their larger counterparts and are sometimes poisonous

another thought... though i think it may be too cold up here for them to inhabit the area, ant lions love to eat ants, hence the name, the only habitat they really require is pure, loose and warm sand, the burrow on down and wait for the ants to fall into their hungry mouths


I did a borax and sugar mix. I gave it to them a month ago and hadn't noticed anything. Yesterday I was walking to my garden and noticed one of my treated hills covered with dead ants. I'd say I have found some successful methods of control here!!!

I know of a few spiders that eat ants. I pretty much have no vegitation on most of the acreage so I'd have to work on that to encourage them to come.

We do have a black widow problem. With 2 toddlers it freaks me out. Well it's not really a problem, we just find them outside every now and again. Now and again is just too much for me!
 
elle sagenev
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S Bengi wrote:If the ants are building your soil you might want to find ways to encourage them so that they can supercharge your soil.
Once they are "done" I have heard that mixing 1part cornmeal+1part baking soda+1part sugar work wonders.


They aerate but they kill all vegitation in their area. So I'm not sure which is more desirable, vegitation or aeration?
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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Devon Olsen wrote:
another thought... though i think it may be too cold up here for them to inhabit the area, ant lions love to eat ants, hence the name, the only habitat they really require is pure, loose and warm sand, the burrow on down and wait for the ants to fall into their hungry mouths


Do ant lions live in Montana? They are all over New Mexico, I see them making pits in dry sand or dry loose clay.
 
Devon Olsen
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^ good to hear, unfortunately i have not seen one ant lion since i moved up from southern utah nearly a decade ago... though i havent spent any time doing nothing but searching for ant lions

glad to hear the borax worked

and i know that black widows are around... i wish i had a solid answer for how to alleviate them but the best i can say is that ive only seen them in places with good cover and not much disturbance
 
elle sagenev
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Devon Olsen wrote:^ good to hear, unfortunately i have not seen one ant lion since i moved up from southern utah nearly a decade ago... though i havent spent any time doing nothing but searching for ant lions

glad to hear the borax worked

and i know that black widows are around... i wish i had a solid answer for how to alleviate them but the best i can say is that ive only seen them in places with good cover and not much disturbance


We have found many black widows. I'm not a huge fan of them either seeings as I have toddlers. We don't kill them though, just relocate them further from the house. Perhaps I can start laying things down near the ant hills to attack the predators. I always find the black widows under things.
 
Devon Olsen
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^ cant say i am a fan either, though i like to let spiders be when i see them out and about... when they get on me i have a legitimate phobia, i am irrationally afraid at that point and fling them as far as i can from me... black widows elicit an elongated period of high heart rate compared to other spiders because of their danger, so i cant really say that ive got any reason to discourage getting rid of them, my best advice would be to one) try to get rid of habitat for them that might be appealing, such as those green boxes for controlling sprinkler systems and such, they seem to love those and just about any other wide hole in the ground that doesnt get wind blown too badly, other than that perhaps do some studying about the niche they fill and see if there is a less deadly replacement for them in your habitat - if you find anything please feel free to share as i would love to know
 
elle sagenev
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Devon Olsen wrote:^ cant say i am a fan either, though i like to let spiders be when i see them out and about... when they get on me i have a legitimate phobia, i am irrationally afraid at that point and fling them as far as i can from me... black widows elicit an elongated period of high heart rate compared to other spiders because of their danger, so i cant really say that ive got any reason to discourage getting rid of them, my best advice would be to one) try to get rid of habitat for them that might be appealing, such as those green boxes for controlling sprinkler systems and such, they seem to love those and just about any other wide hole in the ground that doesnt get wind blown too badly, other than that perhaps do some studying about the niche they fill and see if there is a less deadly replacement for them in your habitat - if you find anything please feel free to share as i would love to know


I'm an odd woman in that spiders don't bother me at all, neither do snakes or most other bugs. My husband did spider silk research at UW so he loves them. I'd have no issue with black widows at all but I fear them biting my kids. So for that reason we do relocate them and if we find a nest we do burn it. Kills my husband to do it but I'll kill him if the kids get bit. We do have wasps that come out though. The widows and wasps bug each other (pun intended) so they balance decently.

Those darn ants though. They're taking over the world.
 
Joe Portale
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This is no answer, but if you kill off the ants you may get some unintended consequences. A number of years ago we were just under siege from red ants on our property, mainly in the back yard. There were enough mounds that the back yard looked like a moon scape. Those little buggers were getting into everything. To make matters worse, my wife and toddler nephew would come in the house after trying to play in the yard bitten to hell. The ants never bothered me probably because they knew they were not intimidating me. Anyway, it came down to a decision between my wife or the ants. So, I mixed up sugar and borax and destroyed every colony. Within 3 months, we started finding termite tunnels all over the place. They were up the wood fences, the firewood pile, up the side of the house, all over some cardboard we were saving for the raised beds, it was a termite apocalypse. It seems the ants were keeping the termites in check. By removing them, the termites had no natural enemy to keep them in balance. Now we only mess with ant hills that are close to the house. The rest can go about their business chomping on termites. Oh, by the way. A squadron of Ant Lions have taken up residence now so they seem to be keeping the red ant population to manageable levels.
 
Dave Lodge
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Attracting wildlife like woodpeckers, skunks, foxes might help to dislodge some of them.

Possibly mark the mounds so your children don't run into them.

Flattening/raking their mound will cause their cooling/heating regulator to be eliminated. They will spend a lot of resources rebuilding it, and won't spend that to spread. Probably the easiest to manage their levels.

http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1992/8-12-1992/ant.html

http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1993/5-12-1993/antlawn.html


On the east coast we have a mound ant that has interesting interactions with native butterflies/months by protecting or rearing them.

http://bluejaybarrens.blogspot.com/2012/05/edwards-hairstreak-larva.html
 
Jon La Foy
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Location: Kempner, TX (Central Texas)
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I see that a lot of people have mentioned that the ants will aerate your lawn, which is true. But so do worms, which is a much more acceptable "problem" to have. I would replace the ants with lots of worms and worm eggs (both can be found on websites in bulk) after you rid the ants. The worm castings (poo) will help fertilize your lawn, garden, permaculture, etc. and help aerate the yard probably better than the ants.
 
wayne fajkus
Posts: 437
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I'm surprised boiling water has not been mentioned. Dump the biggest amount you can Into the mound. It won't kill them all as the next day you will see the thousands of dead that are brought out of the hole by the ones that lived. It will be instant gratification. No waiting for results. No chemicals, etc.

Repeat as needed.

A propane turkey fryer would be excellent for this. I generally use a pot I would cook noodles in, using my stovetop.
 
wayne fajkus
Posts: 437
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Just thought about "stacking functions". Put the colander on a pot to catch the boiling noodle water. Take it straight out to the ants.

Every Household Probably produces Enough WASTE Boiling Water that ants shouldn't be an issue.
 
shauna carr
Posts: 84
Location: Sonoran Desert, USA
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re: worms

In my particular desert, one of the reasons ants are mentioned as something to aerate the soil is because it is too hard and too dry for something like worms to do it. The soil here requires things that can dig into very hard ground. After I improve my soil significantly, it's possible to add worms, of course, but the initial years of set up are going to require something other than worms, I'm afraid.

 
Preston Hard
Posts: 6
Location: Dallas, Texas, Zone 8
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I wrote a book about two kids in the Texas hill country going fire-ant nuts, trying to eradicate them. In the end, the moral was to trust in nature and not fight it. Never published.

Y'alls property is clearly in chaos. It's a flat field that's been used for growing wheat for a long time, the ecosystem that may have once existed now more resembles Kurasawa's sunflower landscape in his late film "Dreams."

You could:
1) Make art https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGJ2jMZ-gaI - but likely the ants will come back from a neighboring property, no matter how you kill them - there's a supply of something that ants demand.
2) Get an ant-eater. They make nice pets.
3) Go full-throttle with permaculture, invite life in, and likely whatever the ants are subsisting on will start being food for other critters i.e. ants may still be around but won't dominate the landscape.



We've had fire-ants in Texas for a long, long time; Texas A&M did tests that showed they can eat a live deer in like 48 hours, and has done some other work to kill them - might google up their research - but what I'm tellin' y'all is TRUE, and there's no silver bullet for these tiny monsters.
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 399
Location: Georgia
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I remember one time at a gas station I was pumping gas
next to a guy in a bug killer truck. I casually asked him if
he had ever killed a fire ant and his reply was "nope, only
move them".

Spraying the mound with the water hose will move them if you
keep doing it. They won't go far though.
 
Nicanor Garza
Posts: 138
Location: Yakima county, Washington state
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bike books cat forest garden greening the desert
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from what I have learned about fire ants is that they need exposed areas with lots of sun heat, if an area has been recently plowed or tilled or trees cut down the ants will move in and make homes there. judging from the sat photo Im not really surprised that you have ants. Its merely habitat opportunities that attract fire ants.
 
amarynth leroux
Posts: 36
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After plowing through this thread I must say that the red fire-ant is something that should not be allowed to live. It eats more than what it protects and leaves chaos in its wake. I want to kill everyone of those and I'm horribly allergic to their bites. Big red angry burning itchy swelling with a white pustule as big as half my little finger nail. Not a good thing for kids I would imagine. What helps for the bites, is sweet basil .. just scrunch up some leaves in the hand and rub the leaf juices and oils all over the bites as soon as possible after being bitten. Repeat as necessary.

Does anyone know for sure if sugar and borax works to eradicate these? We've opened up a new field (some trees removed but the forest canopy is relatively thick still, the understory chopped and generally prepared for planting) and it is just covered with red fire ants. I'm concerned that they breed as fast as they appear. One day nothing, the next day just masses of them, while the earth was still moist. It is too huge a space to walk along with boiling water and deal with them this way. OK, I know the habitat was disturbed and we have to create another order but these ants are voracious. Do I just ignore these, compost and prepare this field and carry on planting? We're tropical so nothing is ever dry for a very long time. Has anyone found some solutions to this? The locals here in the Yucatan swear by a poison called trompeta, and say nothing else moves the colonies, but I have not read the label to see what it contains. I'm too scared to touch that stuff for fear I'll buy it and use it!
 
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