I was moving some old bundles of sticks to make a hugelkulture mound a couple of days ago when I felt the tell-tale sensation of burning on my (probably less protected than they should have been because I was trying to get away with flip flops) feet. I couldn't find the actual mound in the brush pile I'd been working on, but there were definitely fire ants all over my foot.
Fire ants love a good wood pile and the hugel would likely be no different. My early encounter revealed a problem. How could I garden in what was essentially a pile of wood covered in dirt without being eaten alive by fire ants? If a mosquito problem is really a lack of dragonfly problem, what is the equivalent for fire ants? I need to significantly reduce their numbers in what would otherwise be an ideal fire ant habitat. Is there a way to do that or is hugelkulture just not a good solution in my context?
I found a couple of other forums mentioning various methods for fire ant control. The best takeaway is that robust soil microbiology (esp. sugar-loving microbes) may be the dragonfly equivalent for fire ants. I've used orange oil mound drenches before with success, but I would rather discourage the fire ants than kill them after I find them (usually with my foot). This post offers some good suggestions of mound drenches AND preventatives: http://www.thegardenacademy.com/pests-diseases/fire-ants-organic-program/
My plan is to add dried molasses as I build the pile and incorporate horticultural molasses as a regular spray application. Will keep you all posted on how this works. Of course, I welcome any constructive criticism on my plan.
“Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs” St. Francis of Assisi
I live in Oklahoma zone 7 on about 3 acres of sand. I have used cornmeal for years to help with the ant population in my yard. I had a daycare for 23 years so when we found an ant hill in the play area I would put cornmeal around it. I also gave the kids cornmeal to play with in the outdoor kitchen area. The ants take it back to the nest and eat it. Apparently they can't digest it, so they die. I have not ever used it on fire ants. While I have about every other type of ant on my 3 acres I have never come upon fire ants, so I am not sure if it will work for them or not? It's worth a shot though. I have found fire ant nests in nearby parks so I am sure it's probably just a matter of time. They are drawn to my grandson, or he is drawn to them so I am sure if they make their way to my yard- he will happen upon the fire ants. Good luck!
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