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Past Articles Library | Organic Pest Control | Fire Ants


Fire Ants by Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D.

Fire ants are an invasive species that came to North America in some soil used as ballast for a ship. The soil was unloaded in Mobile, Alabama and the fire ants began their march across the continent. They have destroyed ecosystems and brought such diverse species as quail, horn toads, and harvester ants to the brink of extinction. They invade lawns and gardens and the sting can prove deadly if an individual is allergic to them. In short, they have to die.

There are a lot of folk remedies for getting rid of fire ants. Pouring boiling water on the mound simply makes the ants dig deeper and become more entrenched. Diatomaceous earth may make them move, but they only move a few feet. No, the best way to get rid of the ants is the Texas Two Step.

The Texas Two Step is a proven method that works. You spread a bait over your entire yard using a hand cranked fertilizer spreader. The method is important. A wheeled fertilizer spreader puts it out at the wrong rate, no matter what setting you put it on. The hand cranked one puts it out so that pets, birds, and kids would have a hard time getting enough of it to be a problem, but the ants can.

Basically, the bait is picked up by the ants and taken into the nest. They feed some of it to the queen, and it sterilizes her. So no more baby ants. Since the life span of an ant is about 6 weeks, in about that time, the nest disappears.

Now, sometimes a nest is in a place where it has to go right now. The electrical system for a septic system, for example. Or a nest at the mailbox so you get stung getting your mail. This is when you take that second step of the Texas Two Step.

Take a drench or powder and treat those ant hills that are a menace right now. It is tempting to try and do this to all the ant hills in your yard and skip the bait. Try to resist that urge. Some ant hills are barely visible and you will probably miss them. Secondly, that stuff is really poisonous and it is a hazard to you, your family, your pets, and the wildlife in your yard. Use it only for a nest that poses an immediate danger.

If you follow the Texas Two Step, you will have an ant free yard and garden in about six weeks. You will have to spread new bait periodically to kill any ants that move over from the neighbors. The label on the bait will tell you how often you need to reapply it.



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