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dealing with fire ants  RSS feed

 
Posts: 151
Location: Cumming, GA
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Anyone have a non chemical way to get  rid of fire ant piles?  I have 4 and they seem to be.spreading. 
 
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Have not come across any good non-chemical methods. UF has introduced and released microscopic wasps that attack and parasitize fire ants, that has somewhat reduced fire ant colonies per acre (in areas where the beneficial insects have spread), but it is not yet possible to buy this beneficial insect, nor does it reliably deal with the colonies that are causing the problem - nice to get a 40% reduction, but it still might leave the mounds that are right along a walkway or next to your door.

Pyrethrins are one plant-based chemical control, not a perfect solution, but one we use in limited circumstances (they like to build mounds on the back deck, come up right between the tiles and make the deck a hazardous zone).
 
                      
Posts: 76
Location: Austin,TX
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Hit them with diatomaceous earth. You'll need to pour it on and stir it into the mound...gets them out and into it so it can cut them up and dry them out.

It will kill about 2/3, they'll move over a few feet then hit them again. Should wipe them out in a few applications.

ape99
 
Posts: 370
Location: Upstate SC
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I get rid of mine in the winter by going out on sunny afternoons when it is expected to freeze that night.  At that time the entire colony will be up enjoying the sun warmed soil under the southwestern side of the mound.  Take a long handled shovel to dig and scatter the ants downwind as far as you can throw them.  Any ant that doesn't make it back underground before the ground goes into the shadows freezes to death that night.  Fire ants are frost avoiders, going below the frost line to survive the winter and can't survive below freezing temps like our native carpenter ants.  To clear a pasture, about 3PM I'll start on the west side of the field, start digging/tossing ants, working my way east, staying just ahead of the advancing shadow line.  It usually takes one or two visits to completely kill out a nest.  I've been using this method to keep fire ants out of my pastures for the past 11 years.  After getting rid of the large original mounds in the first winter, on subsequent winters I've only have to clear out the small colonies that started over the summer and the few large colonies that moved in from neighboring land where they aren't controlled.  Provides a little winter excercise, fertilizes the soil with freeze dried ants, and avoids the need to use toxins to get rid of the mounds.
 
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The Amish in my area dig as deep as possible in one shovel load and dump that into a 5 gallon bucket of boiling water.  It can be pretty effective but I haven't grown a big enough pair to try it. 

I have found orange oil to be very effective.  Take 10 to 20 drops of orange essential oil and add it to a gallon of water then pour it down the hole.

Many in my area use the old boric acid and Sweet and Low bait

The second two options are chemical controls but are much less toxic than pesticide control.
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 370
Location: Upstate SC
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This method would work for getting rid of the small nests of other ant species, such as pavement ants, near the house (also a limit to how far you could haul a bucket of boiling water and it stay hot).  But a big, 2 foot high fire ant mound is much more than one shovel load (its 3 to 5 loads for the mound itself and at least another 5 or so to dig out the underground part of the nest that can go several feet down) and with the mounds 50 feet apart, that would be a lot of buckets to haul.  Unlike the nests of other ant species, fire ant nests have no visible openings to pour things down.  They kind of fluff up the soil on the surface of their mounds and slip in and out of this loose surface layer to enter and exit the nest. 

I heard about a metal working shop that used to pour molten bronze onto fire ant mounds near their shop.  The molten bronze would fill in the ant galleries, then after it had cooled, they would dig up the cooled bronze, wash the sand off, and have an interesting abstract bronze sculpture to sell.
 
Sabin Howard
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I should have been more specific.  It may take up to ten trips out to the mound with the bucket to completely get rid of the mound.  Not the most efficient way of dealing with things, but it seemed that the OP was looking for a purely mechanical way of dealing with fire ants.
 
john giroux
Posts: 151
Location: Cumming, GA
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I have tried the boiling water method.  Took the propane burner that came with the turkey fryer to the back yard.  Much safer than carrying a pot of boiling water. 
 
Posts: 60
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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Consider trying WD40.  After googling it I found it kills all sorts of nasty things, fire ants included.

I posted my solution in another thread, but just in case, here are the Cliff Notes:  carpenter ants like damp/moist wood, if you have them, you have a problem that likely includes some sort of leak.  The Carpenter Ants tunnel the wood, creating "galleries" to live in, store their food, raise their young and hibernate until it gets nice and warm in spring.

Neither DE or Borax are harm free, in fact the first is quite dangerous if inhaled, and/or absorbed through the skin.  The second is literally toxic if inhaled or ingested, for insects, mammals and humans alike and is generally what is found in most commercial baits (boric acid) combined with a liquid that is sweet - a perfect attractant to dogs etc.

My recent success has been with WD40, a not so environmentally friendly product (as it is petroleum based) which can also be toxic if inhaled in sufficient quantities, but it sure did a number on the influx here.  They emerged at the beginning of the week, by Wednesday we were literally killing hundreds and hundreds (3-4 with one splat of the fly swatter) each day.  As we are in a rental property, with 11 dogs, our options were limited and I did not want the landlord calling in the Pest Control guys to spray/fog/inject who knows what 18 inches from the only door the dogs use to access the stairs to go to the yard.

Watched the ants, pinpointed where they kept emerging from, stuck the WD40 nozzle up there and let fly.  Did this 2-3 times Thursday, again yesterday, and today I have only found 11 on the upper stair landing where they were swarming in the hundreds.  Only to discover a second swarm down on the Patio today.  Squashed them all and watched, pinpointed the entrance, stuck in the nozzle and seem to have nailed it there - only seen a handful down there since and it has been five hours.

I used the same method on wasps at night (both paper and ground dwellers), and the next day, nothing flying, a few crawling, knocked down the nest, swept up the dead on the ground and burned the lot (I assume they insects are poisoned and not safe for other creatures to eat); dug up the wasp nest and tossed all dirt and bugs into the fire also.
 
steward
Posts: 4409
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I just ran across something on the internet that said aspartame, like what you find in artificial sweeteners, will do the job. Not sure if it really works but might be worth a try?
 
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Redhawk suggested fresh coffee grounds applied thickly over top of the mounds in a similar thread. They are then watered in, such that the coffee "brews" and percolates down into the mounds, the acidic coffee burning off the ants' legs.

-CK
 
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Pour vinegar and baking soda into the fire ant nest hole. Flood the hole with not only water, but vinegar and other substances. This is proven and tested. Hope this helps!
 
pioneer
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Posts: 1970
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Fresh coffee grounds  poured all over and around the ant nest then watered in will do the trick.
The coffee will need to be at least 1" thick over the whole nest and then you "brew" it down into the nest, or let the rains do that part for you.

What happens is the acids in the fresh coffee grounds soak into the soil and travel through the nest tunnels, burning off the legs of any ant it touches.

Redhawk



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