The Q&A Archives: How do I get rid of fire ants in compost pile?

Question: I was discouraged to see fire ants, the scourge of the southern garden, in my new compost pile. I know there is no place for insecticides in the compost pile, but how can I discourage the dreaded fire ants?

Answer: A compost pile that is heating up will not attract fire ants. However, when it cools down they move in to set up housekeeping in the wonderful environment of a compost pile.

One control used by many gardeners is to pour a full kettle of hot water on the mounds. This will kill all ants the water contacts, but must be repeated periodically as more ants move in. Some gardeners have found that using a bait product around the area (but not on the mound) is effective. Ants foraging from the mound bring a few grains back to feed to the colony, which soon dies.

A final tip is to dust the handles of your turning fork and other garden tools with talcum powder. The ants try to climb the handles, but fall off when they try to pass through the powdered zone!

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