Organic Fire Ant Control

By Charlie Nardozzi

Fire ants are a major pest in lawns and gardens across much of the country. Now there is an effective organic control that will help eliminate these harmful pests that's safer for the environment than traditional control methods.

Spinosad is derived from the fermentation of a naturally occurring bacterium. This organic insecticide is highly effective at low rates, can last for weeks in the soil, and has less impact on predatory, beneficial insects than non-organic chemicals. Spinosad attacks the nervous system of the ants, causing them to eventually be paralyzed and die. It is also effective on thrips and caterpillars.

Spinosad works best when broadcast over a large area and then applied as a drench on individual mounds in high-traffic areas. Apply Spinosad when the weather is warm (above 65° F), but not hot. During the hot part of the summer, apply Spinosad in the late afternoon or early evening when rain is not expected for the next 24 hours. Ants should start dying within one day, and you should notice a decrease in ant activity in the mound soon after.

Spinosad is available at garden centers under trade names such as Conserve and Entrust. For more information, go to the Texas Cooperative Extension Web site.

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