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Discussion on Control of fire ants in pastures

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Chris Mills
Member
Username: Count

Post Number: 49
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Mar 11, 2003 - 7:57 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Does anyone have any suggestion for eliminating or decreasing fire ants in bermuda pastures?
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kerry bixby
Member
Username: Parfait

Post Number: 33
Registered: 5-2001
Posted on Tuesday, Mar 11, 2003 - 10:57 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Chris,
I lived in San Antonio for 5 years and fire ants were a terrible problem for us. The only way we were able to control them was to pull the horses off pasture, use that very toxic Orthene stuff (sprinkled around the mound) and wait for a couple of days. Getting on them immediately after the rains when you can locate the mounds really helps. If you don't stay on top of it, if your neighbor gets sloppy or you are on vacation for a while, you're sunk!

We did try a number of other things, even burning, hot water, mixing mounds and of course, the less toxic chemicals (like the bate granules)but it wasn't successful. I had trouble with them in the barn as well (they came for the grain)and had to use barrier sprays. During the long dry summers I was always tracking long trails of ants from my barn back to little holes in the ground...what a nightmare. I wish you luck!
Kerry
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Chris Mills
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Username: Count

Post Number: 50
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 - 10:33 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Kerry. When you say "wait for a couple of days"---does that mean the horses can go back in after a couple of days? If not, how long does one keep them off?
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kerry bixby
Member
Username: Parfait

Post Number: 34
Registered: 5-2001
Posted on Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 - 11:39 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Chris,
I kept the mares off the pasture for a couple of days waiting for the Orthene to work. I then put them back into the pasture. If the pile snuck up on me and was big, I would clean it up(along with the Orthene)with a shovel before the mares' return.I think the directions state that the product takes longer than that to work but I never found this to be true. I always wore a mask while dispensing the stuff and waited for a day w/o any wind.

You can achieve a tolerable level but you must watch your borders once this is established.I don't mean to make it sound as if I had to pull my horses off the pasture frequently once I got things under control, I mean to say.
Kerry
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Lisa O'Brien
Member
Username: Lisao

Post Number: 40
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Tuesday, Mar 18, 2003 - 1:53 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Chris,
I live outside of San Antonio now and have fire ant issues, too. I will ONLY control with baits. Baits are very effective, but sometimes you have to be patient and wait for results. It is worth the wait, from my perspective, because I have confidence in their safety. My choice is any product with methoprene as the active ingredient. This is an insect growth regulator. It is very safe for use in pastures. In fact, one product I have used successfully (Extinguish) is labeled for use in pastures. I find this to be a much safer and environmentally friendly solution than the use of much more toxic classes of pesticides. The labels I've read say to put baits out at least 3 hours before a rain. I like to put them out when I expect a day or 2 of clear weather. These granules are not designed to be watered into the soil. Start early in the Spring. You can treat each mound individually - most noticeable after heavy rains, or you can broadcast the bait if your pastures are large. Be patient! Baits work! We're used to the idea of instantaneous pest control, but many of the newer and safer products simply take some time to be effective.
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Chris Mills
Member
Username: Count

Post Number: 51
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Apr 2, 2003 - 5:04 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Kerry and Lisa. I used the orthene before getting your post Lisa but am really glad to hear of something less toxic. Will try to find Extinguish. Who is the manufacturer?
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Christine C. Mills in NC
Member
Username: Chrism

Post Number: 908
Registered: 4-1999
Posted on Wednesday, Apr 2, 2003 - 11:18 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I happen to have a container of diatomaceous earth (sp?) around the house. Over the weekend, I was trimming a crepe myrtle and a pile of large red ants emerged from the ground. I sprinkled about 1/4 cup all around where they emerged and they left writhing. Never saw another ant, even though I continued trimming the tree. Quite impressive.

I'm ready to try it on other pests, now.

Cheers.
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Lisa O'Brien
Member
Username: Lisao

Post Number: 41
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Friday, Apr 11, 2003 - 1:22 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Chris, I don't have my Extinguish container here, but you can find it online at www.pestproducts.com/extinguish.html.

Also there is a new product that I just bought called Justice. The active ingredient is called spinosad. Spinosad consists of bacterial metabolites (from the species Saccharopolyspora spinosa...or something close to that). It should be another great bait. There is more information on spinosad at the Univ. of MN website. http://ipmworld.umn.edu/chapters/hutchins2.htm

Best to apply any baits when the ants are actively foraging - that way they can get the granules down into the nest before any photodegredation occurs. I sometimes cheat and kick the mound to stir them up - they quickly focus on the granules and start taking them to the nest.
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Lisa O'Brien
Member
Username: Lisao

Post Number: 42
Registered: 4-2000
Posted on Friday, Apr 11, 2003 - 1:28 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Also a note on diatomaceous earth. It works by abrading the waxy cuticle of insects and they dehydrate and die. Usually this is not as effective for killing off entire ant colonies because the particles don't get down to the queen very readily. The goal is always to kill the queen (or queens as is the case with some fire ant colonies). Baits, on the other hand, are carried down to the queen and fed to her. Baits are actually designed to work slowly to ensure that the queen is exposed to the chemical.
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Cindy L
Member
Username: cjlewyn

Post Number: 14
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Saturday, Jun 13, 2009 - 9:44 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I'm wondering if it's okay to spray the pastures with some kind of insecticide, and if so, what is recommended. In spite of keeping the manure picked up, my horses are getting eaten in the pasture. I know about attempting to control the larger biting flies, but it seems like in the pasture there are so many bugs of all kinds that it makes it unpleasant for the horses as well as the humans. Thanks so much for any feedback...
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 4360
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Saturday, Jun 13, 2009 - 10:08 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Cindy, I can't imagine an insecticide would last long in the pasture. They have foggers for yards and they don't last long...just enough to get a barbecue in.

I think the best defense is barriers other than pasture management...fly sheets...fly boots....fly spray. I see from your other post you have quite a few horses so that probably isn't feasible.

I have found the shorter and drier the pasture the less bugs we have. We try to keep the pastures low. The bugs seem to like tall wet grass. We keep the pastures next to our house short, even mow it if we have to just to keep bugs and vermin at bay.
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Cindy L
Member
Username: cjlewyn

Post Number: 15
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Sunday, Jun 14, 2009 - 2:10 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Diane,
Thanks for your feedback. Keeping the pastures low does seem to help. Yesterday I was doing some research about spraying on an agricultural website. I guess farmers do it, but we'll see if it's feasible/affordable.
On the subject of summer insects in general, last summer it drove me so insane that I had my old mare eating in an air conditioned room (in the barn) I sealed off for that purpose. I have tried every fly product known to man, and my latest is a "sweet itch" suit I just got from England, but haven't put on yet. I am normally a reasonable person (or so I think), but when I find myself standing guard over my horse waiting for the evil horse/deer flies to land so I can kill them with my swatter and saying "Be still, I'll get it!", I know I have gone over the edge. I have a number of expensive traps also, and mostly they haven't caught too many flies, still experimenting. Is it okay to vent in this section? Thanks!
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: mrose

Post Number: 5071
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Sunday, Jun 14, 2009 - 3:08 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Cindy, I understand totally! I've been known to sit inside a tent with my arm mashed up against the bug mesh door waiting for mosquitos to land. When they did, I pinched off their proboscis! My husband thought I'd gone over the edge for sure!!

I shut my horses up in the barn during daylight in the summer as our worst bugs seems to by out then. Of course, they have fans turned on them! One nice thing about the rain and cool temps we're having right now is there are almost no bugs.
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Cindy L
Member
Username: cjlewyn

Post Number: 17
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Sunday, Jun 14, 2009 - 4:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Yea! I'm not the only crazy one!
My "barn" is a very old crumbling house from the 1900's, and lately I've been wondering if the reason nothing seems to make a difference (as far as the smaller flies go) is that there are so many crevices that they could be breeding in that are inaccessible to control measures. If so, I don't care if I have to borrow money, I'm going to take it down and put something up that is more easily sanitized (or just let them move in with me). Does anyone use a barn structure that is mainly cement or another material that is easy to keep sanitized, and if so, do they notice a significant reduction in their fly population? Thanks!
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 23178
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Sunday, Jun 14, 2009 - 5:36 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

There are folks posting above who have more experience with fire ants above than I have. With easier to control ants I have limited success with baits. Concerning diatomaceous earth (DE)there appear to be some insects when used with some types of DE and under some conditions that are effected but I too think it is unlikely to control the nest but then again...

Here is one controlled study with DE that explains about the different types. One word of caution and that is you need to be careful using the DE inhalation of the dust has been causal for lung silicosis but of course you need care with the handling of all insecticides.
DrO

Commun Agric Appl Biol Sci. 2008;73(3):621-8.

Comparison of different silicas of natural origin as possible insecticides.

Mucha-Pelzer T, Debnath N, Goswami A, Mewis I.
Department of Urban Horticulture, Institute for Horticultural Science, Humboldt University Berlin, Lentzeallee 55, DE-14195 Berlin, Germany.

Many insect-pests have developed resistances to pesticides. Therefore, there is always a need for new plant protection substances. For example the physically active insecticide diatomaceous earth (DE) gained much attention as an alternative insecticide in stored products. DE is a naturally occurring silica, which acts by destroying the insect's cuticle by absorbing the protective wax layer. This results in body water loss and ultimately the insect's death by desiccation. The silica-based materials tested were the commercial DE product Fossil Shield 90.0s, Advasan, and a formulation newly developed by the Urban Horticultural Department at Humboldt University, called Al-06. The trials were performed in small covered plastic boxes. Test substances were either dusted onto the surface of the boxes (E. vigintioctopunctata, S. litura) or mixed into rice medium (S. oryzae). The mortality was observed after 1, 2, 4, 7, 14, and 28 days. Untreated insects served as control. The first test series showed that some AL-06-formulations and FS90.0s were very effective against adults of S. oryzae and S. litura and larvae of E. vigintioctopunctata. For adult Epilachna beetles, we could not detect any differences between the treatments. The highest mortality rate in S. oryzae trials occurred with FS90.0s (100%) after 21 days. The same efficiency was achieved after 2 days with some AL-06 formulations against S. litura and E. vigintioctopunctata. The results of this study indicate that silica dusts can effectively control insect pests from different orders. At higher dosages, all materials resulted in higher insect mortality rates. It was also found that some substances did not perform well under higher relative humidity; therefore, the conclusion was drawn that hydrophilic substances saturate with water from the surrounding air and lose their insecticidal efficacy. Earlier studies have proven that particles with a larger surface area are more effective than particles with smaller surfaces. As a result, the most effective substances in the field trials were the ones containing the small particles, since there is a larger surface area available to interact with the insects' cuticles. Further studies will be conducted to analyse the relevance of water saturation of substances in order to examine their effectiveness under greenhouse conditions. Greenhouse experiments are generally considered to study practicability of silica dusts in horticulture. Perhaps the silica dusts will show phytotoxic side effects.
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: mrose

Post Number: 5076
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Sunday, Jun 14, 2009 - 9:29 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Another reason I love Utah: no fire ants! However, I have read that they are spreading west and north. I have vivid memories of them from East Texas. I've been told they can kill a cow, but I don't know it that's actually true. They could sure drive one crazy; they hurt like &^%#(* when they bite! Good luck getting rid of them. My dad used to go around spraying all the ant hills he found, but I don't know what he sprayed in them.

Have you thought of getting a few pet anteaters?

Regarding barns; we have a wooden barn with mostly metal sided stalls (like the MD ones) and the barn is sheathed with metal siding. We still get flies. I think it has to do more with who/what your neighbors are and the area you live in. We used to use fly predators, but our neighbors didn't clean their sheep and cow pens, so it was rather hopeless. Now we have better neighbors and although we still get flies, they aren't nearly as bad as they used to be.
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Sharon
Member
Username: shanson

Post Number: 168
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Monday, Jun 15, 2009 - 12:51 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

In the early 1990s, I had a real problem with fire ants around my newly built cabin in East Texas. We broadcast a bait called Logic that got rid of them. It wasn't instantaneous, but it seems to have been permanent. I think we had to broadcast it again the following year, but after that they never reappeared.

Here's some good current info. which includes brand names mentioned in this thread.

http://www.extension.org/faq/824

I agree with the others that the bait is the way to go. Very effective and very safe.
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