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Use orange-oil mixture to control fire ants
March 26, 2004
By Howard Garrett
Question: I have a planting bed around a silver maple tree, and there is a huge fire ant bed in it that I cannot get rid of.
The roots of the tree are so thick that it is impossible to dig the ant bed out. I am afraid of it killing the tree.
Answer: Pour a diluted mixture of orange oil, hot pepper tea and molasses on the ant mound - about an ounce of each per gallon of water.
After the ants have started moving around, drench the mound with a full-strength fire ant formula: Mix orange oil, molasses and compost tea together in equal proportions. Then add 6 ounces of this concentrate to a gallon of water and pour it into the middle of the mound. After the liquid floods the bottom of the mound, soak the rest of the mound and then the ants that are trying to run away. Ants that are hit with the liquid will be killed.
A day or two later, apply beneficial nematodes to the site to control the ant stragglers.
This technique doesn't just move the ants around as toxic chemicals do. And biological activity caused by following a complete organic landscape program will prevent the fire ants' return in many cases. The next thing you need to do is remove the planting bed from around the tree. Silver maples aren't very tough or long-lived so they need all the help they can get. Scrape away the soil around the base of the tree so that the tree's root flare is showing above the ground.
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