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Soil and Composting: Fire ants

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Cajun2

Cajun2
(Carole) Cleveland, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 26, 2011
8:55 AM

Post #8451286

I am in the process of adding 'browns' to my compost bin.
Emptying all the pots with plants that didn't make it.
Came across two with fire ants in them.

Trying to decide if I could just dump them in another area of the yard, and then treat them for fire ants;
OR ... can I put them in the recycle bin and add fire ant treatment? Kind of concerned with Plan B because I don't know what those chemicals may do to my compost--I definitely don't want to affect it negatively.

Is there an organic treatment for fire ants? (I will go now and do research to see if I can discover one while I wait.)

Thanks in advance!

Cajun2

Cajun2
(Carole) Cleveland, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 26, 2011
9:04 AM

Post #8451314

ok, did some reading. found two possible solutions to try while they're still in the pots:

1. boiling water - don't have to worry about any live plants to kill

2. corn meal - had forgotten about this one

As for other pots with plants still thriving, I'm going to plant dill in the pot with them.
And I also read where some people put fire ant killer in a ring around the base of the pot (and under it) to keep them at bay.

All good options.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 26, 2011
10:19 AM

Post #8451405

The oil in citrus rinds will kill fire ants. When we lived in South Florida, my hubby would scatter grapefruit rinds all over the lawn before mowing it - we had our own tree, so there were lots of rinds available.

For a small area: take fresh (not dried out) rinds in your hands, stand over the area where the ant nest is, and tear the rinds into small pieces over the nest. The oil is heavier than air and will sink into the nest and kill the ants.

I know this sounds "wacky" but if done frequently, it will work!

I almost didn't tell about another idea, because it's even "wackier!"

Find a black ants nest, dig it up, and dump it on the fire ant nest. The two species will go to war - just cheer for the black ants to win!

Living in Florida was fun - after very heavy rain falls, we had to look around carefully before going outside to be sure an alligator wasn't parked on the porch! - You know what Floridians call alligators? - Florida Yard Dogs!

I'm soooo glad I now live in North Carolina.

Cajun2

Cajun2
(Carole) Cleveland, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 26, 2011
7:01 PM

Post #8452321

Wow!!! Good stories, Honeybee!!!
I have some grapefruits now. Believe me, I WILL go hover over that nest and let 'er drip!!! LOL

Now IF I run across another ant nest, I'll be sure and sick 'em on the fire ants! ha! love it.

LOVE your 'yard dog' story too!
My sister and her [grown] children live in the panhandle.
I grew up in NORTH Louisiana--so, Cajun in name only.
We didn't have gators on the porch... HOWEVER... we had a lake house and I found out when I was FORTY that I grew up swimming with gators. I was like 'omg, Mom! you knew and a) didn't tell us, and b) let us do it anyway?! omg!!!'
LOL wow... motherhood.

This message was edited Mar 26, 2011 8:01 PM

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 27, 2011
8:24 AM

Post #8453106

Cajun2 - you only need the peel of citrus fruit - fresh is best. Once it has dried, it doesn't work. Break it up into little pieces over the nest and let it drop into the center hole.

Swimming with gators? YIKES! There have been instances in South Florida where gators have snatched young children and pets from canal banks! When we saw notices around the neighborhood with photos of missing pets, we always thought: "gator bait." There are an awful lot of canals in South Florida and far more alligators in them than people realize.
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

March 27, 2011
9:17 AM

Post #8453226

If the infested pot is small enough to fit, you could put it inside a ziploc bag & just nuke the thing in a microwave oven for a minute or so. I kill aphid/scale infestations in small pots that way, once the plant's beyond saving.

I do the same thing when I occasionally have to prune infested houseplants way back. The nasty dead/dying sprigs go into a big ziploc bag, which then gets sealed up & nuked until it almost pops.

After that, the cooked materials go into the composter. It's got no living critters left, and the cell membranes of anything that *was* living are ruptured, so decomposition happens faster.

With bigger pots, I yank the infested plant & burn it, & I then resort to boiling water to kill everything in the soil. Then the soil goes in the composter & the ashes go into my large compost pile (used for landscape plants).

Yes, it borders on anal. On the other hand, infestations have become rare & short lived here at Casa Puddle Pirate. :)

Cajun2

Cajun2
(Carole) Cleveland, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 27, 2011
11:53 AM

Post #8453556

I like it, PP!
It's a larger pot, so... if the grapefruit hasn't ended their life here on the planet, I'll go with boiling water first.
Then I may end up braving it and putting the soil in large ziplocs to nuke--like that idea.
If the soil itself weren't such good soil, I'd just pitch the whole thing.

(If my husband saw all this, he'd say 'omg we have fire ant killer!' LOL)
RioGTomlin
Cayos Cochinos
Honduras
(Zone 11)

March 29, 2011
11:32 AM

Post #8458557

I'm very glad I found this thread in time! I work at a resort with restaurant, and we compost (or try to) all of our organic restaurant waste. As I was not here to oversee it, the pile is way out of balance with lots of nitrogen, and no carbon. It stank to high heavens and was creating a wet slop that smells of feces. I have since covered the piles with dried bamboo leaves and small sticks/twigs from cutting back our starfruit tree. Unfortunately, we can't actually TURN the pile because: FIRE ANTS.

Our pile does get many citrus rinds thrown on to the top of the pile, we make fresh grapefruit juice daily, somewhere between 10-30 rinds could be used. I have found the ants around the entire ground everywhere near the pile. Upon reading this, we will start putting the grapefruits around the base of the piles. Should be a good starting point. Thanks!
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

March 29, 2011
12:54 PM

Post #8458676

Don't forget the boiling water, if need be.
rfonte649
Lake Charles, LA

April 4, 2011
7:46 PM

Post #8472619

I love burning the little bast**ds, with a propane torch. I just kinda fill sorry for the microbes, but I think they will grow back.
RioGTomlin
Cayos Cochinos
Honduras
(Zone 11)

April 6, 2011
8:10 PM

Post #8477323

We began spreading grapefruits around the base of the compost, which they have overtaken. At first, the ants were eating the grapefruits still inside the rind. Since we squeeze our grapefruits, there is still a lot of food there. However, it seems as though after the first 3-4 days, the are no longer eating the fruits, and I haven't seen as many in the area. I'm going to continue doing this until we have carpeted the entire area.

Haven't added boiling water yet. The area is so big we would need LOTS of water. Next time we barbecue, maybe we'll put a pot filled with water on top and try that.
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

April 6, 2011
9:03 PM

Post #8477449

Maybe a propane torch?
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

April 7, 2011
6:00 AM

Post #8477796

Propane torch???

Break out the weed burner!!!

Sonny

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 7, 2011
6:00 AM

Post #8477797

RioGTomlin - YAY! death to fire-ants!

Keep up the grapefruit rinds - it will work - that's how we got rid of ours when we lived in Florida.
TX_gardener
Brady, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 7, 2011
6:40 AM

Post #8478008

Check out "The Dirt Doctor" http://www.dirtdoctor.com/organic/garden/view_question/id/3911/

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 7, 2011
8:27 AM

Post #8478203

TX_gardener - I noticed the number two recommendation included orange oil. I have found the oil in grapefruit rinds works, too. Probably lemon oil would also work, but I have only tried orange and grapefruit.

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