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Fire ant control: numerous tips to get rid of the pests.

COUNTRYSIDE: This is a reply to Ruth Phegley from Louisiana on fire ants.

When we lived in southern Arkansas, 12 miles from the Louisiana border, we too had fire ants. Several hills of them in fact. A neighbor told us any white powdered laundry soap would kill them. Since I used liquid laundry soap, the only white powder I had in the house was baking soda. My husband poured about a cup of soda per hill. The next day there were a lot less ants. Three days later there were none. New colonies could move in, but we never saw any more ants the year we lived there.

We now live in Muskogee County, Oklahoma and found a fire ant hill while we were building our house. One cup of baking soda and two days later, no ants. That's been three months now.

We hope this helps. We look forward to COUNTRYSIDE every issue. There is always good information in it.

Now I have a question. I would like to hear from anyone who has harvested rainwater on a larger scale than 100 gallons. Sorry, we do not have e-mail, but they can write to us.--The Moores, PO Box 959, Warner, OK 74469

COUNTRYSIDE: This is in reply to Ruth of Louisiana, who wants to know how to beat fire ants. These techniques were field tested in the arid Sonoran desert where rain rarely messes up bait. They're inspired by Garden Insects of North America by Whitney Cranshaw, a book worthy of recommendation to any amateur entomologist and/ or bug fighter.

The name, fire ant, has become one of those generic terms, referring to any number of small, aggressive ants whose painful bite seems out of proportion to its tiny body. Professional exterminators agree, it's possible to eliminate individual colonies but you'll never get rid of them all. Indeed, it's wise to leave the least obnoxious species, to deter the others from reoccupying emptied nests.

Pure boric acid is my poison of choice. I don't know if it's organic, just that it gets the job done. Never apply it on, or near, plants. It will cause dieback, even through root absorption. The whole goal is to get workers to bring tainted food to queen(s). That means bait has to be tastier than your plants. After a few days the nests collapse.

There are two types of ant bait: sweet and oily. Ants preferences change with the seasons, so keep experimenting. Sugar water or soda, with a generous dose of boric acid dissolved in it, attracts those with a sweet tooth. An old jar lid, with a cotton ball in it so ants can walk on it, holds enough liquid to last awhile. Recharge it by lightly sprinkling boric acid powder on the cotton ball when adding more fluid.

For oil eaters, creamy peanut butter hardly ever fails. Blend in boric acid, but not so much it gets stiff. Smear mixture on any small flat object, placing it where there's ant activity. Since it's appealing to pets (and rodents) use care. Keep stations well stocked with fresh bait until hexapods disappear. Move them around to get every nest, as ants tend to stick to their territory. Sometimes it helps to combine oil and sweets.

Despite all our efforts, there's always a few persistent survivors. Shovels make an effective weapon of mass destruction. Spray exposed hordes and larvae with very soapy water. Orange, antibacterial ultra concentrated Dawn[R] dish soap seems to work the best. I've tried them all, from laundry detergent to baby shampoo.

Now, my question is, does anyone know a recipe for Norway rat poison? Feeding them 6-14 days uses up a lot of expensive store-bought bait, with inconclusive results.--Bruce Maier, zone 8.5

COUNTRYSIDE: Treat fire ant hills as follows:

Pour 1 ounce (estimate) of ammonia on center of hill. Count to 10 slowly, then pour an equal amount of Clorox bleach on the same spot. (Ed. note: Don't breath the fumes--they're poisonous!) Close the hole by raking dirt over it with a stick. Make sure to give a good rap with the stick on the ground to dislodge any ants.

This has worked well for me here in South Carolina.--Louis Beckham

COUNTRYSIDE: Being a new subscriber and residing in an apartment, it takes me back to when I lived on a farm. I find so much information that I use, I enjoy the other articles so very much.

In response to the lady that has fire ants, this is what I do to get rid of ants. I hope that it will help her. I have used this method on the little dark brown ants that come in the kitchen to the big red ants that live in the south. I put out corn meal, they take it back to their nest, eat it, and in a few days are gone. If it rains or a heavy dew, put out fresh. Ants can't digest the corn meal and it binds them up and kills them. We have used this method for as long as I can remember.--Missouri
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Title Annotation:Country conversation & feedback
Author:Maier, Bruce; Beckham, Louis
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2009
Previous Article:It's time to pull together.
Next Article:Scam phone call targets Countryside contributor.

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