"Anyone that doesn't agree with leggings as pants can physically fight me.
And I'm going to win because I have a full range of motion due to the fact that I am wearing leggings as pants."

Monday, May 12, 2008

How to Kill Fire Ants

Last week I picked up a copy of the Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn at the library. There are a ton of good tips, some goofey stuff and some ideas that just don't seem worth the effort. Basically, I agree with The Simple Dollar's opinion... it's a decent book; take what you need and leave the rest.

What I like about the book is the fact that cheap solutions to problems, using regular household stuff, tend to be less toxic.

One idea that I found particularly interesting is how to kill fire ants. And I'm including it especially for my Aunt Linda who wrote such a heartfelt response to my last post (and also has a huge problem with fire ants).

You're supposed to wait until the ground is dry and rain is not expected for a day or two. Then you sprinkle grits around the ant nest. What happens is that they bring the grits in to feed the queen, she eats it and it expands in her stomach, killing her and eventually the whole nest. I would think that if the ground isn't dry, you could put the grits on a plastic lid or something.

Since we don't have fire ants here (and Joey would freak out if I did this with our harmless ants that she has been attempting to condition to see her as some kind of food sharing queen) somebody else is going to have to try this.

Linda, if you give this a shot, I'd love to know how it turns out, -K?

Note- The version of the book I have is from 1995 and the index is pretty much crap, which is unacceptable because the book is arranged so randomly. I just tried to check to see if they mentioned what kind of grits would work and was unable to find the page again. They didn't list 'ants', 'fire ants' or 'pest control'. I did find 'fleas' because I remembered those being on the same page as the ants, but it took me to a page that didn't actually mention fleas. Wow. Also, the pricing that she mentions is WAY outdated, for obvious reasons. I've got the updated version on hold at the library and will let you know if it's any better.


Linda W. said...

I can tell you a lot about fire ants, but not how to get rid of them! I've tried the grits, but with no success. I've tried the poison, with no success. I've tried boiling water, with no success. In all three methods, many ants are killed, but many thousands just move six feet away and start a new mound! Oh, and there's the old pour gasoline on the mound and set it on fire method!

I must say that the boiling water method is the most disturbing of them all, and I may have told you about it when you were here. The trick is to carry gallons of boiling water that you've spent hours heating in the microwave and on the stove, to the mounds, trip after trip, pouring it on the mound so that it seeps into all the chambers, and on all the fleeing (and I always imaging screaming) ants. As if this weren't disturbing enough, the next day you watch hundreds of ants CARRYING THE BODIES OF THE DEAD to an area that they must have pre-ordained as the cemetary! I mean they literally carry the dead and PILE THEM UP, as if to say LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE! HAVE YOU NO SHAME! WE HAVE FEELINGS,TOO! THESE DEAD ARE MOTHERS, FATHERS, BROTHERS, SISTERS, CHILDREN! You truly get a yucky feeling in the pit of your stomach over the whole thing. BUT, if they are in your flower bed or play area or are killing your new tree with a tall mound, you become desperate.

This last year our newspaper ran an article on erradicating(sp?) fire ants, and they also said that these three methods don't work and are basically old wives tales and/or methods that have been passed on from family to family. We have a pest control guy next door, and he said that although you can treat small mounds as a temporary fix, you cannot even begin to reach the chambers that go miles and miles and miles under the ground in every direction, especially in former pasture areas like we live in.

If you've never been bit by a fire ant, you won't understand why anyone would go to such barbaric lenghts to get rid of them. They literally burn like fire, and they turn into blisters that last for months and actually leave a scar. And they take over EVERYTHING. I put in a little patio with pavers last year, and within a month had a fire ant colony under the entire thing. And all of my outdoor flower pots are filled with them.

This is more info than you asked for, but that's what you get when you mention fire ants to a southerner!

Linda W. said...

Oh, one more thing. Did your book say anything about men and fire ant mounds? Everyone knows that if you disturb a mound they will just repair it or divide and make more mounds. But a man or boy will kick one EVERY TIME! Your uncle davie says that's because they piss him off, but how does that explain little Garrett and Conner doing it without even giving it a thought? They've been told since day one WATCH OUT FOR THE FIRE ANTS! THEY BITE! But they cannot fight the temptation. And I have seen it in man after boy after man. I guess it's up there with skipping a rock on the water or bouncing a ball? Or a feeling of power in watching the ants scatter by the thousands?

Tonya said...

Ok, you must have seriously been reading my mind because yesterday I was scouring the internet to find a solution to get rid of them. I am laughing at Linda's story about killing them. I've never witnessed the "Bring out your Dead" with the ants yet, but I'll be watching. I did read that they didn't like the smell of cinnamon, so I'll be trying that, but to cover my yard in it would be impossible. Though, it would smell good!

Wendy said...

Tonya, hopefully you don't have as bad of an infestation as Linda. Maybe one of these methods will work for you. She did say that it killed some of them, just not all of them.

Linda, you're hilarious. You talked at length about them when we visited, but I'm sure I would have remembered this story!

I'm glad I don't live someplace with fire ants because the idea of pouring gasoline on the mound sounds way to tempting to me. I'd probably burn down the whole neighborhood.

Hey, I think I might have found the solution. Maybe you could live someplace that doesn't have fire ants. You know what? Colorado doesn't have fire ants. Maybe, and I'm just throwing this out there, you could move to someplace like Colorado. Someplace so much like Colorado that it actually is Colorado.

Just a thought.

Meagan said...

Well, what I heard through working at preschool centers is to use dry white rice. It is the same principle as the grits, but since I don't like grits, they are never on hand to use. You have to make sure that it gets into the ant nest dry so that the digestive juices of the ant are what causes it to puff up... It sounds so gross, if you think about it too much.

I know it works cause I have done it several times....

I actually had never heard of the other methods... It sounds worse though then the rice.

Anonymous said...

I live in central Florida and just read on the internet last weekend about using coffee grounds to chase ants away! I made my husband dig the coffee grounds out of the trash and dump them on & around the ant hills. For the most part it worked! I just went out & kicked the dirt around where they were & there were only a few left, but not many! This is the site where I got the info...

Neagle said...

Buy some loose tobacco from a pipe shop. In an non-reactive pot, at least 9 gallons, steep the tobacco in cheese cloth over a low flame for 24 hours or until the mixture reduces by 1/3. At this point you must handle the tobacco reduction with rubber gloves because the reduction is TOXIC. Remove the tobacco leaves and add 4 cups of table salt and 2 cups of baking soda. In a plastic bucket outside away from children and pets allow the mixture to cool. Now, add 1/2 gallon of ammonia. You now have a mild neuro toxin. Find all the ant mounds you can and with a deep root feeder, the kind you attach to a hose, add the toxin as instructed by the feeder and saturate all the ant mounds you find. Be warned, do not use this mixture near edible plants or young trees.

Elle said...

I live in central Louisiana and fire ants are a part of life. I don't belive you can actually get rid of them entirely. The trick is to encourage them to move somewhere else. I have had some success with this due to a pest comtol friend.

He said to get ant poison and late in the evening (just beofer dark)pour a ring of it around the mound. Supposedly the first ants that come out in the morning bring the first food find to the Queen and once she eats the poison the rest will die or move on. I do know that I do this every spring when the mounds appear and it seems to control it some. The mounds are deserted and new ones crop up a little farther along. I keep doing it all summer to keep the size of the mounds under control. Over the past 3 years I have had fewer new mounds appear so perhaps they are getting tired of me and will eventually move to the vacant lot down the hill from me. One can hope anyway.

I saw an idea of moving the ants with a shovel from one mound to another 150 yards away and they would kill each other off. I got to saw, as intrigueing as this idea is, I don't recommend it. Fire ants are fast little devils and I for one will not be digging up mounds of them and attempting to transfer them. Sounds like a great way to get major ant bites by the hundreds. Good luck to everyone convincing your fire ants to move to another property.

Marcia said...

Just wanted to mention since people searching for fire ants online may stumble on this that a few people, including my husband, are deathly allergic to fire ant bites, just as others are to bee stings.

Years ago he got three bites on his foot, broke out in hives, insides itched unbearably, chest pains later, etc. He took a shower before he let me drive him to hospital as he got worse - we were told 10 minutes later and he would have been either dead or in a coma. That time he was lucky and got to come home that day after they treated him, felt bad for weeks.

He was bitten again after that and had to be treated again at a hospital, but he got there quicker.

So, please, if someone is bitten, especially multiple times, watch to them for a while - just in case they are one of the few.

We were lucky, next time I'll call the paramedics.

L said...

Hello, I have been searching the web for ideas to kill my new fire ant problem and was suprised to see that some people believe there are No Fire Ants in Colorado. Well that's not true and my yard is proof. I moved here from Florida two years ago and know fire ants when I see them and I've got em in Peyton, Colorado. They started three weeks ago after the rain. Thistle plants just started growing in my yard and I wanted to kill them before they grew to the humungus size they were last summer. Much to my dismay when I stomped on a few of the small plants hundreds of fire ants came running out of them. Within the past two weeks I have huge fire ant mounds around the front of my house and lots of holes in the dirt full of ants. I am concerned because they are dangerously close to six new young trees I just had planted along my dirt road driveway and they are also in the areas where my I take my dog out in the morning. I am going to poison the hell out of the entire area around my house with 7 dust and clorox. I obviously cant de-ant the entire property but, I can clean a perimiter around the house...I hope. I am not going to try to carry pots of boiling water anywhere nor can I light a fire. The seven bags of fire ant, red ant, and all ants poison I purchased at Wallmart have a 100% money back guarantee. I used the first bag yesterday, and doubled the dosage per sq.ft. Watered the poison as per the instructions and walla the ants moved from the area but did not die at all. Good thing I kept my receipt. They are at every entrance to my home and where we have to walk daily. I am very concerned over how quickly they have spread. My elderly mother in law and my dog are my primary concerns. A few days of snow would wipe them out for sure but, comming from Florida to Colorado and enjoying these first few warm weeks since winter has me wincing at the idea of praying for snow.


Thanks for your posts,


Anonymous said...

I have been reading about different methods of controlling fire ants. So far I have tried used coffee grounds twice and it has worked both times. It takes about 2 days, but the activity left is very little after poking at the mound for a while.

Anonymous said...

Yes there are Fire Ants in Colorado! Black Forest Co. Seems a rancher purchased some hay from a guy trying to get a better price, well the hay came from Texas and was not properly inspected before it was shipped. When it arrived the hay was infested with Fire Ants. The hay was supposedly tested! Guess Not!!!!!They now inhabit the southern states from North Carolina to Southern California, Colorado, Las Vegas Nevada, and Southern Utah. I have been tracking them for years.