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Fire ants in the carrots!  RSS feed

 
Miranda Converse
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Well the fire ants are becoming active again, time for me to never take my eyes off my feet while walking through the yard!
So I was out tending to the carrots this weekend and noticed a sizeable ant mount right at the edge of my raised garden bed. A very inconvenient place since I kneel right there to pull weeds and whatnot. I won't use any pesticides and haven't been able to find much else that will deter the fire ants.
I know that if they are disturbed enough, they move. Well brilliant me thought "hey I'll churn the soil a bit and flood the place with the hose and they will move to a less inconvenient place!" Well it worked, sort of. I went back a couple hours later and they sure enough were moving right into the middle of my carrots. I was still in the process of thinning them and now any time I pull one, I will make the ants angry. Also, if it rains, they will mound up and smother my rather small carrots. *Sigh*

So does anyone out there have any idea how I can get these ants to leave without destroying my plants? Here are some things that I have done in the past;

diatomaceous earth: They don't like it but all it does is make them reroute their entrances and it does nothing after it gets wet. Works well on concrete cracks...
Dig out their mound and put it in a bucket of soapy water: Only works on small mounds, creates ugly holes, and risk getting swarmed by ants
Boiling water: Works if done a couple times in a row (before they move) but it kills any plants that the water touches.
Gasoline and fire: Not proud of this one but it works. Decided not to do it anymore due to possible leaching into groundwater.

I would really like ideas that won't destroy my carrots but I would be happy to hear anything that works because we have them everywhere and my poor feet are tired of getting bit.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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I have not had any issues with fire ants so in order to help you I looked it up in my "natural solutions" book. The only recipe(s) I read that would be one you could use in your garden suggests putting either instant grits or cornmeal around their mound. The idea being that they will eat it (as well as share it with the colony) and it causes them to bloat up and die.
 
Caleb Rae
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Location: Tennessee, Zone 6b
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I've had limited luck with spinosad containing bait treatments and orange oil. Both organic approved, but I would prefer to find something else as it still feels like more of a treating the symptom and not the cause approach. Surely something besides disturbance could be used as a management strategy. the garden beds get disturbed more than anywhere else around here, but that's where they are most problematic. Would love to have suggestions for getting them out of the pastures also.
 
Miranda Converse
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Everything I have read about cornmeal or grits says that it's ineffective against fire ants. Apparently the adults are on a liquid only diet and the young ones that eat solids chew and have saliva so the bloating effect doesn't work on them. I would try it but I know of a few people firsthand who did not have any luck with it and none who did...

I saw a couple articles about the orange oil. I am curious to try that but it seems like it would get so expensive for a large area. I might just try that for my garden where I don't want to kill the plants.

Another thing I came across was injected steam. Apparently some couple spent about $200k building this contraption that pressurizes steam and injects it into the mounds. Obviously I'm not going to spend $200k but it got me thinking. I do have an air compressor so maybe I could rig something up to that to get it to put out some steam. I also have one of those steam cleaner things, not high pressure but maybe it doesn't have to be that high. I'm going to tinker with a couple ideas and see if I can't come up with something. Steam just seems perfect. It's the most non-toxic substance imaginable and once you have something that can do it, it's free for an unlimited number of mounds...I'll report back if I come up with anything worthwhile!
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Posted 3 years ago by Tyler Ludens:

""An environmentally friendly cure for fire ants has been announced by
Walter Reeves on his Georgia Gardener radio program. Testimonials that
it REALLY WORKS are coming in.

Simply pour two cups of CLUB SODA (carbonated water) directly in the
center of a fire ant mound. The carbon dioxide in the water is heavier
than air and displaces the oxygen which suffocates the queen and the
other ants. The whole colony will be dead within about two days.

Besides eliminating the ants, club soda leaves no poisonous residue,
does not contaminate the ground water, and does not indiscriminately
kill other insects. It is not harmful to your pets, soaks into the
ground.

Each mound must be treated individually and a one liter bottle of club
soda will kill 2 to 3 mounds. Spread the word.""


This sounded good to me but was questioned by another poster as to whether this method not only depleted the oxygen supply for the fire ants but also for soil organisms.
 
Mike Turner
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Location: Upstate SC
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I've gotten fire ant colonies to relocate from inconvenient locations(planting beds or tree stumps) to a nearby desired location (unplanted area of soil) by repeatedly watering them (several times a day) while sinking a 1 foot long 1X6 board nearby in the soil where I want them to move (they like to build under boards or rocks that are partially buried in the soil). After they have moved under the board, I fill a 5 gallon bucket with a gallon of soapy water, remove the board and shovel the ant colony into the bucket. After giving an hour or so for the soap to kill the ants, dump the bucket of soapy water, dead ants, and soil back into the hole you dug the colony out of. The soapy water will soak into the soil and kill many of the ants that you didn't get dug out. I've used this method to remove numerous fire ant colonies that moved into my raised beds. They are especially attracted to cold frames and hoop houses, locations that are warmer and dryer than surrounding areas.
 
Miranda Converse
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I have not heard that before! Seems easy enough, I will try it as soon as I can get some club soda!
 
Miranda Converse
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Mike Turner wrote:I've gotten fire ant colonies to relocate from inconvenient locations(planting beds or tree stumps) to a nearby desired location (unplanted area of soil) by repeatedly watering them (several times a day) while sinking a 1 foot long 1X6 board nearby in the soil where I want them to move (they like to build under boards or rocks that are partially buried in the soil). After they have moved under the board, I fill a 5 gallon bucket with a gallon of soapy water, remove the board and shovel the ant colony into the bucket. After giving an hour or so for the soap to kill the ants, dump the bucket of soapy water, dead ants, and soil back into the hole you dug the colony out of. The soapy water will soak into the soil and kill many of the ants that you didn't get dug out. I've used this method to remove numerous fire ant colonies that moved into my raised beds. They are especially attracted to cold frames and hoop houses, locations that are warmer and dryer than surrounding areas.


Yea, the reason they love my raised beds is because I built them using pine logs. There are actually about 5 fire ant mounds in/around my (3) raised beds! The beds are mostly empty now except the one full of carrots, so I haven't been so bothered by them. I'll be pretty happy if I can just get these ones moved. I will def try the repeated watering thing although they may just move back under the pine log! I guess I can work around that for now...
 
Alder Burns
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When I used to live in Georgia we would get fire ant mounds to fight each other by exchanging shovelfuls between mounds. You probably will not eliminate them this way but you can drastically reduce their numbers, and plus you get the satisfying sight of the neat piles of dead bodies on the battlefield.....
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Alder Burns wrote:When I used to live in Georgia we would get fire ant mounds to fight each other by exchanging shovelfuls between mounds. You probably will not eliminate them this way but you can drastically reduce their numbers, and plus you get the satisfying sight of the neat piles of dead bodies on the battlefield.....



That's an interesting idea.
 
Casie Becker
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I always respond to this with beneficial nematodes. I've a niece who is allergic to fire ants so we treat at the beginning of our cooler weather. I think one of the reasons that molasses is supposed to work for ants is that it feeds a population surge of the naturally occurring nematodes already in your soil. Gardening centers here carry the nematodes in the fridges next to lady bugs and preying mantis eggs.
 
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