Killing fire ants - the experiment (Corn Meal & Corn Starch)

Discussion in 'Organic Gardening' started by cherylad, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    Killing fire ants - the experiment (Corn Meal & Corn Sta

    On Saturday, April 7, 2012... I sprinkled/poured Corn Meal (all I had on hand was the white) on one fire ant mound. And across the yard I used Corn Starch on another.
    As of today, Thursday, April 12th... the mound treated with Corn Meal is "dead".
    The one treated with Corn Starch was very much alive. So, I gave it a good dose of the White Corn Meal.

    (How am I doing so far, Jerry?)
     



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  2. calinromania

    calinromania Young Pine

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    Maybe they are down there having a party?
    How can you tell it really worked? Possible they just got tired of the view and neighbors and moved on to building a new mould?
    If it works...BRAVO! I am still figuring out what exactly would be the Romanian version for Corn Meal would be. I was sure I succeeded, but when I read "white"... confusion again.
    THe only corn meal I can think of is the one we sometimes boil in plain water and turns into something the consistence of mashed potatoes LOL
     
  3. Netty

    Netty Chaotic Gardener Plants Contributor

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    I used corn meal last year on an ants nest. It took a while, but the nest was finally 'dead'. The next year there was a new ant hill 3 feet away.
     
  4. marlingardener

    marlingardener Strong Ash

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    Cheryl, I think I'll just bomb the mounds with my hushpuppies (little cornmeal balls seasoned with onions and fried, for those of you not acquainted with Southern cuisine)! I'll try the cornmeal thing on a mound in the potato patch--I hate using insecticides in the garden, but I hate getting bitten while gardening, too.
    Cal, cornmeal comes yellow or white here in the states, depending on whether the yellow corn or the white kernel corn is ground to make the meal. What you boil in water is cornmeal, and it's called polenta in Italy, mush here in the states. Somehow it tastes better when you call it polenta.
     
  5. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    Cool Cheryl!

    Calin, Cornmeal is dried ground field corn.

    [​IMG]


    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )



    Netty maybe there was a chemical odor from the last nest that drew a new colony to that specific area. did cornmeal it?
     
  6. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    Calin.... It's very possible that they did just pack up and move. But the mound is dead. I took a stick and aggravated it and not one ant was there.
    There are LOTS of mounds... and some new. So I plan on Cornmealing ever single one that I see over the weekend.
    And I think I'll try the yellow cornmeal too. It's not as fine as the white. Maybe that plug them up quicker.

    Netty... a whole year between ant nests? wow... I'd be thrilled with that result.

    Jane... hushpuppy bombs... sounds like the one's I made one time! The dog wouldn't even eat them!

    :shock:
     
  7. Jerry Sullivan

    Jerry Sullivan Garden Experimenter Plants Contributor

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    I just love experiments, did you watch any activity? The cornmeal is granular and easy for an ant to carry home. Cornstarch is a powder, the ants would need little buckets to carry it home. Did you see them take any away?

    Jerry
     
  8. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    I really aggravated the bed to get them all stirred up. Then poured on the cornmeal and corn starch. And yes, you could see them grabbing and hauling it downward. I'm going to get a big bag of the yellow corn meal this weekend and treat every mound. That might be a better test, yes?
     
  9. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    today, I treated every mound I could find with the corn meal. There's no forecast for rain over the next several days. So... hopefully I can tell if it's working to kill them... or if they are just packing up and making a new mound.
     
  10. Jerry Sullivan

    Jerry Sullivan Garden Experimenter Plants Contributor

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    Three cheers Cheryl!! The big experiment is on. Good luck!! Mark each nest so you can tell if the ants move or die or build a new home. Establish a baseline of nest information, it will make the results easier to understand.

    Jerry
     
  11. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    I covered at least 1 acre. Some mounds were very little... maybe 2 inches in diameter... other's were anywhere from 1-2 feet! They are easily recognized because they are yellow now.
    Even with store-bought mound treatments that are guaranteed to kill the queen... thus the mound... lots of time they just pack their bags and relocate. So I'm spending lots of money just to chase them away... for a little while.
    If the corn meal is doing the same thing at a fraction of the cost... I think I'll save the money to spend on more flowers!

    :-D
     
  12. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    So, once the ants are dead and gone, does the mound go away, as in settles back down in the ground or is it there and eventually "wears" away from the elements or do you have to remove it or doesn't it get that tall? So many questions...I', sorry, I just am curious about them.
     
  13. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    Carolyn....
    I think you've got it just about right. Once the mound is dead (or evacuated) it looks just like any pile of dirt and will eventually just erode or get grown over. There's nothing really left to remove. Oh my... the mountain I could have if I scooped up all the remains of our fire ant beds!
    The mounds don't usually get very tall. Perhaps 2-3inches maximum. But they can be very long and wide. I can try to remember to get you a photo of the largest one I found today... or I'm sure an internet search could show you a "typical" mound.
    The two most fascinating things about the little monsters to me are... #1. The first one's won't bite you until your entire foot or hand is totally covered!
    #2. They will use each other to create their own floating island during a flood. Thousands/millions of them holding on to each other. Scarey... and remarkable at the same time. (FYI... just one more reason not to go trudging through flood waters around here!)
     
  14. calinromania

    calinromania Young Pine

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    YES, that's the cornmeal we have around here... that we sometimes eat. A real easy meal, especially when mom's too tired to cook and i'm visiting LOL

    I will also try it. Will check if there's any in the cupboard.
     
  15. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    Well... my conclusion to this experiment is...
    NONconclusive. Some beds were dead. Not sure if the ants were dead or if they just packed their bags and moved on. But at least the beds were dead (this also happens with those commercial products).
    And some beds didn't appear to be affected at all.
    I will continue to use the corn meal in areas that don't get much traffic/use, like the half acre "buffer zone". So... it took 2 weeks to kill the bed. But it was at least 4+ times cheaper.
    And I'll have to keep some of the commercial stuff on hand to kill the darn things in a hurry when they get in my flower beds.
    Another thing I learned... I'm not very good at conducting experiments! :-D
     
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