My Nemesis...The Fire Ant
nem·e·sis [ némməssiss ] (plural nem·e·ses [ némmə sz ])
1. unbeatable opponent: a bitter enemy, especially one who seems unbeatable
2. source of harm: a source of harm or ruin
Chocolate chip cookies are my real nemesis.
3. deserved punishment: punishment that is deserved, especially when it results in somebody's downfall
4. avenger: a person or force that inflicts punishment or revenge
[Late 16th century. < Greek, "Nemesis, righteous indignation" < nemein "distribute what is due"]
Well, I've just been out treating multiple mounds of fire ants here. They are a challenge at almost every level imaginable here in Texas. They are everywhere and make gardening difficult when a mound gets in your lawn and garden. Plus the painful sting/bite they inflict (Ouch!) when you just happen to pull up a weed that unleashes 100's of them.
This is one area I am challenged as a gardener using organic methods. Finding ways to get the fire ants out of my veggie garden without poisoning our family has its limitations. I have to use several methods of treatment to get them to move away.
Here they are:
1) Bait - There is bait on the market that needs to be applied outside of the veggie garden area, but close enough to attract the ants. Putting the bait out in the mornings and evenings is best because that is when they tend to look for food.
This method is effective because the ants carry the bait w/insecticide to the colony and queen. This does the least harm to surrounding garden soil. It's a slow process, taking up to two weeks to see results, but really the best way to get rid of the source of the problem.
2) Mound Treatment - This is a different kind of insecticide. (Do not use in your edible garden) The product label will specify how it is used. Using fire ant mound treatment in high traffic areas and around the house will keep the problem somewhat under control. (They are bad when they get in your closet!)
I hate having to use any kind of insecticide, but with fire ants, the choices are limited and it's best to know what my options are to keep our family safe. Texas AgriLife Extension has great information about fire ants and explains how to deal with these awful insects.
If you have fire ants in your area, what do you do to keep them at bay?