Waging War on the Ants

by - August 25, 2010

Fire Ant Colony 4, building their nest this afternoon before I attacked (The attack was like a really moving Pasodoble on SYTYCD... one that brings Nigel to tears and has the angsty pre-teen audience on their feet screaming when they should be sitting in awestruck silence):

The thought crossed my mind this afternoon that it was possible that my entire back yard is one giant fire ant nest and what I thought were separate colonies are really just the various entrances to their empire. Wouldn't that be terrifying?

Let me tell you about my ant colonies. We have been battling Colony 1 for two summers. Last summer it resurfaced twice and this summer it returned once. It is in a fairly untraveled location between our house and the Bakers'.

Colony 2 was at the back corner of our property at the base of a pine tree. I powdered it last summer and have not yet seen resurface.

Colony 3 has been migrating within a five foot radius of my right most box garden. Last summer I powered it several times along the bricks, but the rotting tomatoes that I failed to pick were too enticing. Colony 3 just recently reappeared in an old stump adjacent to that box and bit the heck out of Joe's foot while he was weed-eating the area. I powered the colony and then it reappeared under a huge flower pot next to the stump. I powdered it again and am scanning the area to look for signs of a new mound.

Colony 4 is a real beast. Colony 4 is an old one from last summer that started by my jasmine on the trellises and immediately threatened the safety of my babies and their friends as it moved to the base of the sweetgum tree that shades the kiddie pool. I chased them over to the neighbors hosta plant, then to the next hosta, and then the next one, and then back to the trellis where they started. This afternoon I powdered them very well, took a rake and turned over the mulch. You would not believe the swarming at that point. I then powdered them again. It was air strike - ground confrontation - air strike - ground confrontation ...

Colony 5 was discovered in the left most box garden when I was pulling up a weed this spring. I chased them to the other side of the box and then to pea plot and have not seen them resurface since this spring.

Colony 6 is hiding underground with no mound visible, but I catch its members munching on my okra.

My brother has told me that if you cut the top off a mound and switch it with another mound, the colonies will wage wars on themselves. It's sort of like those stories in the Bible when God has the Israelite enemies wipe each other out before ever fighting the God's people. If I could ever spot two mounds at the same time, I'd give it a try.

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  1. OUCH!! I had an ant issue lately, but not fire ants. Thank God!! Good luck in War!! LOL

  2. So should I mention that it's quite possible that all the ants in your yard are closely related and that each colony is organized around a queen who is sister to all the others? And that there may be multiple queens in each nest to provide backup in case you successfully poison one?

  3. GAH! I guess I will be chasing these guys around for the next several years hoping not to step in them. Shoot. These colonies will probably outlive me.

  4. Terro- I haven't used it for fire ants but i'm sure they make it for them- the idea is the workers take it back as food for the colonies- and it kills the whoooole thing.

  5. AP, good call. My powder is pretty awesome stuff, but it's not a bait and it doesn't claim to kill the queen.



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