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 Post subject: fire ants!
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 4:10 pm 
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First off all admit that I'm a complete amature at composting, my pile has been more of a big heap of stuff and I haven't given it as much attention as I should of.

So a few weeks ago we went to turn the compost and discovered we don't have a compost pile as much as a GIGANTIC fire ant mound. I really want to save my pile but I don't have money to spend on it so I need a safe inexpensive solution. Does anyone know how I can get rid of these ants and rescue my compost without spending much money?

My husband suggested that we just go ahead and throw it out over the garden bed (that I spent all day Saturday working on because of some poor soil issues) and that the ants wouldn't like being spread out and would leave. I laughed at him and told him he's insane. I'm not putting those ants on my bed.

Thanks!
-Beth


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 5:26 pm 
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One thing the Dirt Doctor usually recommends is to add molasses to the pile; one way is to pour a liquid molasses solution onto the pile. I forget how strong--maybe two-four tablespoons of molasses per gallon of water. Maybe someone on the forum can supply the dose and make other suggestions. If you turn the pile some and add the molasses, it should heat up if it's decently balanced between carbon and nitrogen. The heat,molasses, and/or both together should convince the ants to move.

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 Post subject: fire ants-compost
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2003 6:25 pm 
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Location: Weatherford,TX
http://www.dirtdoctor.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2358&highlight=compost+ants

http://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=25

Try the links above for additional help.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 6:24 am 
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Is there a good reason for not just mixing up 10 gallons of fire ant drench or Anti Fuego solution and drenching the whole compost pile? Would the orange oil have a negative effect on the pile?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 8:38 am 
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jrosto wrote:
Is there a good reason for not just mixing up 10 gallons of fire ant drench or Anti Fuego solution and drenching the whole compost pile? Would the orange oil have a negative effect on the pile?

Yes. Orange oil will kill the beneficials, too. I also have fireants in one of my copmpost piles right now. The main thing is to get it hot enough. It needs more microbial activity. I have put probably 7 lbs of dry molasses product on mine which is only about 2' diameter and 3' tall and it is still only 70 degrees right now. Too much carbon and too little air. When I expand the area this week, I'll add the green that is currently breaking down in some metal trash cans. The cooler temperatures will allow me to do this with minimal fireant activity. :wink:

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 8:50 am 
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Nadine, could we just put DE in the pile? Or would this be a bad thing?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 9:03 am 
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It would not be bad, but it would not help. I believe DE is actually good for fire ants if conditions are not completely dry. I know it does not hurt the ants if there is any moisture or humidity. Most likely, your compost pile is not that dry. :wink:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 11:23 am 
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It appears that you have some pretty good information to get you started. My suggestions will echo most of what has already been said. Depending on the size of the ant bed, if you want quick and immediate control, I would suggest the use of one of the soil drenches, either Auntie Fuego or the Green Sense equivalent. Yes, this will likely kill some of the beneficials also, but with proper pile management going forward you should be able to quickly re-build that population. Another route would be as already suggested, turn the pile, the ants won't like the activity. Again, depending on the size of the ant bed, you may want to have killed off some of the population first. Go ahead and add some molasses, sugar, honey, or corn meal to your pile and turn those products into your pile to get things heated up again. The ants won't like that either.

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 Post subject: Fire Ant Drench
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 12:54 pm 
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I have to agree with Organic1/Nadine and say no to the soil conditioner mixes with orange oil. You dont' want to kill off those beneficials and you don't have to. I would recommend a good dose of molasses at 1 cup per gallon of water and I'd throw a cup of cornmeal in there too. If you are using dry molasses, make it 2 cups. I didn't see how big your mound is but if you use 1 gallon of this mix for every 3 x 3 foot area and 2 foot of height you won't see fire ants for more than a few days afterward. It'll fire up the activity in your pile and kill off their fungus crop and they will either leave in a hurry or die. :shock:

To help keep them from settling elsewhere on your land, give it a good dose of molasses to deter them. Liquid is cheaper ($8/gallon at Lowe's) and easier IMHO. If they do move to somewhere else you don't want them, douse their mound with the soil drenches mentioned or your own homemade version. That is where it's most effective and that's where it should be used.

Let us know how it goes!
:D Kathe


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 1:39 pm 
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Thank you all very much for the information. It's all very helpful.

I'm thinking I'll try the molasses. The only garden center near me is at Home Depot and I don't recall ever seeing any there but then I've never specifically looked for it, does anyone know if they carry it?

I forgot to mention that my husband did put some Neem on it when we first found the mound but after putting it on we thought that perhaps that was not the best course of action because we don't want to kill all the beneficials too. Not to mention that we used neem a few months ago to get the fire ants out of a garden bed about 8 feet from the infected compost pile and we thought we had gotten rid of them but now I wonder if they didn't just find a tasteier place to live...

The compost pile is round and it's probably about three feet in diameter and maybe two feet high, and there is a neighboring pile of leaf mulch that also seems to have some ants in it. I'm thinking this is one of the biggest ant mounds I've seen in a long time. It runs through the whole pile.

I'll try the molasses and see if I can get that to work. I was thinking of getting some to spread on the garden as I put it to bed for the winter anyhow.

Thanks again.

-Beth


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2003 8:37 am 
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Depending on where you live and on how warm your compost pile is, you might be able to drive them off or kill them by turning the pile to expose the mound when it's pretty cold outside. If your pile is still pretty cool, its heat may not be enough to offset the ambient cold to which the pile would be exposed if you turned it. If you can see where the ants are concentrated, you might even scoop that part out and spread it on the ground in the cold, then return it to the pile after the ants have dissipated. Of course, if you're in San Antonio, it might not be cold enough for this to help.
As to the molasses, you could use liquid kitchen molasses from the grocery store. For the compost pile alone, I prefer molasses to the d-Limonene. I suppose if conditions are suitable, the molasses/disruption might just move the ants a short distance, so maybe you'd rather kill the mound (which proper exposure to the cold would do also). I figured that molasses would be the lowest cost choice, but I suppose it depends on how you buy it vs d-Limonene.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2003 11:49 pm 
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Location: Garland, Texas
I must admit, I am confused by the seemed aversion by some to just kill the fire ants. I agree that they have a place in the ecosystem, but when they become a nuisance or pest, I have no problem whatsover in killing them. Scooping them out and spreading them on the ground? And you will be doing what as they spread up your hands and arms?

As far as the molasses driving them off, umlaf I will await your first hand experience as my own experiments have not proven so successful. One thing that has worked for me is turning the pile with some regularity and not letting the pile get too dry.

The compost pile is round and it's probably about three feet in diameter and maybe two feet high, and there is a neighboring pile of leaf mulch that also seems to have some ants in it. I'm thinking this is one of the biggest ant mounds I've seen in a long time. It runs through the whole pile.

That is a lot of ants, and I wouldn't volunteer to stand in or near the pile to turn it for long.

Good luck with this though and report back on what you do and how it works.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2003 6:57 am 
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Mr. Clean wrote:
I must admit, I am confused by the seemed aversion by some to just kill the fire ants. I agree that they have a place in the ecosystem, but when they become a nuisance or pest, I have no problem whatsover in killing them. Scooping them out and spreading them on the ground? And you will be doing what as they spread up your hands and arms?


That's why I wrote to do it when it's cold outside so that their motor activity is low. The poster did ask for an inexpensive solution, after all, and exposing them to the cold does kill them. As always, elimination depends on affecting the queen(s).

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