Today's due diligence

Those of you out there that don't have fire ants consider yourselves blessed. We're in the progress of pouring boiling water down our biggest pest in the gardens home. This fire ant village comes to the surface at various places around our raised gardens and the boiling water is one way to get rid of them. Most likely the ants are five to fifteen feet deep and have multiple queens who lay eggs continuously.
Fire ants can really hurt you and your pets just by getting on you in swarms and bite you and inject something that will make you hurt for a while and leaves pustules.
They will even make their own rafts if their area floods, the ant ball moves constantly to avoid drowning, they protect the queens and eggs as much as possible. Came here to Texas from ships coming into port from South America about the time I was growing up, probably mid-fifties, I have scars from getting into the !@#$%^ ants path as a teen out hunting and fishing or just running the woods for the hell of it. (lived close to large ports on the Gulf Coast) Nowadays they are every where in Texas.
My lovely wife is putting gallons of boiling water down their exit hole and chortling while she does it. I just hope it works.
George, scratching his legs again
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On 9/4/2017 5:14 PM, George Shirley wrote:

One of the benefits of living further north where these ants cannot survive winters.
I'd be dumping the recommended pesticides down the holes as these should leave residues to continue further killing. Boiling water would cool rapidly as it penetrates the ground and only kill the surface ones, I would guess.
I get problems with yellow jackets nesting in the lawn and got a half dozen stings on my ankle out back spraying weeds a few weeks ago. I blasted the nest with the wasp spray soaking the ground and seem to have wiped out the nest.
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    I've dealt with fire ants for 40+ years; good luck with that hot water down the hole bs. Just as with ground-nesting wasps, gasoline and fire work well but, unlike the wasps, surviving ants will re-establish nets elsewhere. In 20 years of "due diligence" at this place, I've got them down to a few small outbreaks each year. Of course, since this land was "cleared" 60-70 years ago, it may be that nesting sites (decaying subterranean wood, e.g. tree roots) have diminished but I credit Amdro, IME, the only ant specific insecticide that works on them. Amdro is "fire and specific" only because many other types of ants won't eat the bait but those that do die. Like the boiling water, any other product that I've tried simply disperses them, resulting in a host of satellite mounds, often at significant distance from the original problem site. They're a major pain but at least they're more easily controlled than grasshoppers and locusts.     Having said that, I must confess that a fragment of the familiar colony persists (and has done for years) in and under the timber retaining walls of one garden bed and I have the scars to prove it. I don't use any "chemicals" in the garden and I know of no predators or pathology that'll take the little bastards out so I just deal with pissed off ants injecting fire into my feet and lower legs several times each year. I can't guess whether or for how long the toxin remains in an AWG's body but I'm sure to be loaded. It is possible to use the ants' behavior pattern and tribal reaction to threats to minimize the damage to ones self but I'm not telling.
--
Derald
Peninsular FL, USA
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On 9/5/2017 10:43 AM, Derald wrote:

I was raised in Orange County, Texas, where so it is said, that foreign fire ants first came ashore. They finally found us after several years at the old home place, right after I got out of the USN and married, about 1961 if memory, very old memory, works. Here we have five feet of gumbo clay under two inches of sand for our front and back yards. The fire ants come up sporadically in the spring, usually by our raised bed gardens. Right where, if you're working the garden, you get bitten. Don't want the amdro or other things there as the plants pick it up too. The boiling water, two pots full, are to kill the queens, generally the rest of the ants, less queens, generally just die off as I have seen before. Now we're waiting for two things, if the ants all die we got the queens; if they start moving out, they've still got at least one queen and they're all moving next door. Suits me.
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On 9/5/2017 11:25 AM, George Shirley wrote:

Our poor dog has been covered up with fleas this summer. We've treated the yard where she roams, treated her with Advantax several times, and evidently it has quit working altogether. Next, we tried flea baths with a flea collar, and no luck, either. She ended up scratching and biting herself so much she has very little fur on her tail, butt, and parts of her legs. We finally called the vet. He had a stronger flea killer that is a pill. One was to kill all the fleas on her in 24 hours, and the other is one pill a month. We have 3 months worth of it.
Our son suggested we bath her in dawn dish soap because it is gentle and also kills fleas, so he did that this past Saturday. He also suggested we put out bowls of dawn water around the house as a trap for any indoor fleas. Speaking of which, we also treated the indoors for fleas too.
A week later from her original vet treatment, I don't see any fleas on her body now, just the occasionally one that gets on her paws when being outside. Evidently, the indoor treatment is working, too, because we've caught some fleas in the bowls, but really not too many. Initially, we caught like 4 or 5 fleas in different parts of the house, and now we're only catching 1 or 2 new fleas a day.
The vet said that everyone is having horrible problems with fleas around here. We didn't have much of a cold winter last year, so I guess that's why. Is anyone else having flea problems?
--
Maggie

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On 9/5/2017 5:02 PM, Muggles wrote:

Our dog has never had a flea on her that I've seen. Have not found any fleas on our property. No dogs on this block but ours. She has brought in a tick or two after walking around the retention pond area with my wife. Easy to find as she scratches at them and I drown them when I find them. There's only a dozen or less dogs in this 200+ homes here as most of the folks around us go off to work every day. Only half a dozen retirees here that I know of. Lots of cats around, mostly seem to be strays, leftovers dropped off from other folks that don't live here. Have to call the pound every few months to come and round up the strays. Dogs and cats that live here are house pets mostly. One family has a parrot that stays in a tall cage and curses.
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On 09/05/2017 03:44 PM, George Shirley wrote:

Had a customer with a room mate and a parrot. He taught the parrot to nag his room mate with the same words his ex wife used. It was funny as all hell listening to the room mate open the door to enter the house and have the parrot yell "Where were you!" (among other things) at him. The room mate almost murdered him.
:-)
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On 9/5/2017 5:02 PM, Muggles wrote:

  It's been a bad summer for fleas and ticks both out here in The Holler . I use frontline plus on Max , he still has a few fleas but not nearly as bad as it could be . I spray his blanket (actually a handmade afghan but I won't tell if you don't ...) regularly to keep it from getting infested . Our house doesn't have carpet for them to hide in , a bonus .
  --
  Snag
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On 9/5/2017 7:33 PM, Terry Coombs wrote:

Our ten year old Rat Terrier has never had fleas or ticks, she has been on a regime of flea and tick medication the first of each month all her life. She cleans her front feet often and also her back end when she's been out. I guess it's because she has short legs, was supposed to be a miniature ratty, but has the body of a regular rat terrier on short legs. Vets look at her and shake their heads.
We don't have carpets other than our "Persian" carpets we bought during our five years in the Middle East. The dog knows which she can lay on, the cheap ones. <G>
The dog and I sleep under an Afghan blanket, made by my elder sister who crocheted all the time and is now long gone. It's light, keeps us warm when the AC is on, and we put a real blanket under it in the winter. Dog let me sleep until nearly 7 am this morning, that's a first. Wife is still snoring and the dog is napping on the couch behind my office chair. The dog used to snore but the vet fixed that. I'm thinking of taking my wife to that vet too.
George
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On 9/5/2017 7:33 PM, Terry Coombs wrote:

AH! I can finally post again. (holds breath)
We are still battling the fleas, but it's not too bad, now. The dog is still scratching from her skin healing up, so she has to wear the cone of shame until her skin stops driving her bonkers. I have been giving her benedryl tablets, like her vet recommended, and it seems to help some.
--
Maggie

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On 9/10/2017 10:56 PM, Muggles wrote:

Many moons ago we had a dog who got loaded with fleas when a cur came up the driveway (1/2 mile) and wanted to stay. Had to deflea both dogs and then take them both to the vet. Both dogs turned out to be good dogs, the new one even brought the cow up each morning to be milked. Figured from that that some local farmer didn't want to mess with De-fleaing the dog. The dog lasted a bit longer than the cow. As long as Miss Tilly gets her flea and tick pill we haven't had a problem, once a month and she's fine, even thinks her pill is a treat. <G>
George
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Derald wrote: ...

of the phorid flies, certain species are predators of fire ants.
songbird
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    Unfortunately they are not native, not present in sufficient number to be meaningful, in short supply, not found on the handy homeowner retail market. At least, I haven't found a source. You may find the following citations interesting.
http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/2011Hort_NewsArticles/NewFlyReleasedInFloridaDecapitatesFireAnts.pdf
https://patch.com/texas/downtownaustin/never-seen-footage-shows-parasitic-fly-turning-fire-ants-zombies
http://journals.fcla.edu/flaent/article/view/56812
Seems to me that in their native states a long term equilibrium exists between predator and prey. As a general rule, predator species don't eat themselves into extinction. One more alien species will not eliminate the ants, guaranteed, and, if it _does_, who's to say what it will eat next?
--
Derald
Peninsular FL, USA
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wrote:

Look up a Pete Seeger song: "The People are Scratching," for a humerous look at what happens when you try to change one thing.
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEkiKYBL3EI

Thanks! A post-muse Seeger flashback! ...it could happen....
--
Derald

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wrote:

I saw him play several times, living semi-locally to his home in Beacon, NY....the other tune that pops up whenever I hear more of the present craziness is "God Bless the Grass." I hope Pete was right; right now truth seems to be unimportant...
(We now return you to your gardens, hopefully still in progress. I'm making SWMBO Basmati Pilaf with Tatsoi greens, and whatever else I feel like tossing in).
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Derald wrote:

a bit busy this morning to read all of those, but looks like they support my previous reading on the topic.

some barren islands would refute that blanket statement... ;)

they've already been introduced to the USoA. like the ants they will spread through time.
it may not stop them entirely, but the evidence i've read says it gives them more of a challenge so that other native species have more of a chance.
if they were not specific feeders they'd already have been here (IMO) given that they've had 10,000 years to travel the distance and plenty of alternative hosts to use as skipping along points or stepping stones.
whenever there has been an introduced/non-native species that becomes a problem it is usually because the species has been introduced without the rest of their system (prey species which would normally keep them in check somewhat).
songbird
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    Yes: One of them "announces" to the world that flies eat ants; another is a video of a fly parasitizing an ant; the third announces to the world that Florida has, once again, introduced a batch of ant-eating flies in an experimental control effort that is likely to take several human generations to produce results but who cares, it's someone else's money

    Awwww, you know better: Starvation is not the only , might even the least likely, reason for extinction and, if it is the cause, then over-grazing of the prey is not the sole possible reason for starvation.

    That is as may be but the "progress" is slow, especially for flies,. They're not among the most mobile of insects and during that meantime generations of people along the gulf coast will have little balls of fire injected into their bodies.     Just for fun, try this at home: Strike one of those large "kitchen" matches and while the phosphorus is still fuming and flaming, press the lighted end to any part of your body (top of a bare foot will do nicely) and hold it there until well extinguished. Now imagine that sensation subcutaneously _inside_ your body. That's almost a fire ant bite but there's more. Like honeybees, imported red fire ants are herding animals and do not act alone so imagine how alert a person becomes when the little fire is replicated, say, 25-50 times on one foot within a span of seconds. But Wait: Look! There's a whole 'nother foot and no additional fee!

    Perhaps, but with alien species, destructive ones in particular, one does not aim to "challenge" but to eradicate. I'd just as soon never see any of those parasitic flies because that simply would signal the presence of the ants. As I've pointed out elsewhere, if a person has ladybugs in his garden it is because aphids are in the garden _and_ were there first..

    Gosh, you just know better. They easily may be "specific" feeders because endless generations of ants have been available and easy. No one living can predict what they'd do if their preferred food disappeared, whether they'd adapt or, if so, over what time period. Much less can anyone predict what they'd eat. It doesn't matter, anyway.

    Tell me about it. I live in a state with several wonderful examples of such short-sightedness. Melaleucca trees, for example, were introduced to slow beach erosion as well as to remove water from swampy areas where folks thought they just _had_ to live but the insects that _eat_ them did not make the trip. They are a pest that even fire will not eradicate. They have been pestiferous for all of my lifetime and at this point there's no way to transport in enough insects to get rid of the trees. The imported red fire ant, though, wasn't deliberately introduced for some misguided altruistic or economic end. AFAIK, it just sort of walked and hitch-hiked.     Yikes! Just walked through and noticed this hadn't been posted yet. A little preoccupied, though. I'm told a storm is coming.
--
Derald
Peninsular FL, USA
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Derald wrote: ...

yep, i thought you were already gone.
the predicted track went back east and then has gone west again.
i don't envy anyone in the path.
be safe.
songbird
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On 9/8/2017 7:44 PM, songbird wrote:

Isn't that strange, have lived on one coast or more for years on years, rode out a few hurricanes, always bought houses on high ground. Harvey just dropped about 50 inches of well-needed rain on us and ripped up Houston proper. We never lost power, etc. through the whole storm. Then along comes another one and it hit Florida. Probably another one will be coming along.
We've always been lucky, none of our families has ever lost a house, not much ever but a few trees. And a cow disappeared once upon a hurricane, never found her again. I reckon a rustler got the cow or tornado in the storm got her. At least I never had to get up early and milk her again.<G>
George
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