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2010-01-24 / Business

County Agent’s Corner

Texas two-step with fire ants
By John Ford CEA-AG Kleberg-Kenedy

2010 has started a lot different from 2009. South Texas has been blessed with abundant rain.

However, we can expect to see an increase in some lawn pest, both insect and disease, that the dry weather of 2009 kept in check.

The recent rains will no doubt lead to an increase in fire ant activity later this spring. Implementing the Texas Two-Step control method now and again in the fall months will eliminate many of those nasty pest.

The Texas Two-Step Method gives excellent control of fire ants with less cost and bother.

Just as important it’s safe and easy to do. Two-step pesticides can be found in any nursery, garden center or hardware store.

When properly applied, this method causes little risk to people, pets or the environment.

The first step is to broadcast a fire ant bait, a product containing a food plus an insecticide, over the whole yard.

When collected by worker ants, bait particles are carried to the colony and shared with the queen and other ants.

Less pesticide is needed with baits because this kind of delivery is so efficient.

Apply baits at the right time. Baits are effective only when fire ants are actively searching for food.

Ants remove baits from the soil surface within a few hours if baits are applied during peak foraging times.

Fire ants forage when the soil surface temperature is between 70 and 90 degrees.

The second step is to treat problem ant colonies, those needing attention, using a mound treatment.

Mound treatment is a way of destroying one colony at a time. It is the fastest way to get rid of individual colonies.

It’s not necessary to treat all fire ant colonies with mound treatment after applying a bait.

Limit step two treatments to mounds located next to house foundations, in high-traffic areas, or other trouble spots.

Treatment can be with granular products containing an insecticide that releases into the soil, usually when drenched with water.

Sprinkle the recommended amount of product around and on top of the mound.

When directed, on the label, sprinkle 1 to 2 gallons of water over the granules with a watering can.

Sprinkle gently to avoid disturbing the colony and washing the granules off the mound.

The other option is to use a liquid drench that is applied directly to the mound. As with granules, 1 to 2 gallons of water is needed.

Always wear chemical resistant, unlined gloves to protect your skin when handling liquid concentrates and follow label safety directions.

Considering the abundant moisture, chances are 2010 will be a year where fire ant activity is a problem in many lawns and landscapes.

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