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Help with fire ants!!!

Discussion in 'General Tortoise Discussion' started by Jenna kamenski, Mar 19, 2019.

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  1. Jenna kamenski

    Jenna kamenski Active Member

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    ok not sure if this helps or not but I’m in South Carolina - I have almost 2 acres and I have noticed fire ant piles all over my front and back yard! What has everyone done that has been successful that is gonna be safe for my leopard?? I’ve never had to battle these little things and I constantly worry about torque getting a mouthful or him getting attacked by them

    HELP! Lol :D
  2. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I generally just make a little indentation in the top of the mound and pour ant poison slowly into the hole - LOTS of ant poison. Then I cover the hill with a piece of plywood and set a brick on it to keep the tortoises off.

    Here's a bunch of ecologically safe methods that don't work as well as REAL poison, but do work:

    Several Home-made Ant Remedies


    1 – Boric Acid

    Ingredients:

    1 Tablespoon of Boric Acid, 1 tsp of Sugar, 4 oz water, Cotton Balls.

    Mix Boric Acid and Sugar in a bowl. This can be poured over a cotton wad in

    a small dish or bottle cap. Keep this from drying out for continued

    effectiveness. Place Cotton balls in path of Ants. If the ants are drawn to sugar, if you make a solution of boric acid and sugar, not too much boric acid initially, the ants will eat it up take it to their young and feed it to them. This method will kill the entire nest in about two weeks. The solution should initially be weak because you don't want them to taste the boric acid and you don't want to kill the ants before they feed the rest of the nest. If they are protein eating ants mix the boric acid in broth.



    2 – Another Boric Acid


    >> 1 teaspoon boric acid (available at any drug store,, $2.99 for 4 oz) 6 tablespoons sugar

    >> 2 cups water

    >> mix together in a jar till all dissolved,, label and store safely.

    >>Soak a few cotton balls with it, then put them in a small, covered plastic >container (margarine or <?>) with a few small openings in it for the ants to >get in, (I also put a brick on top so other curious creatures could not get >in)and then freshen it 1-2 times a week.

    >> This is a slow acting 1 percent solution to get them to take some back to

    >> the nest and even feed the queen :>

    >>after a few weeks changing to a 1/2 percent solution should keep them gone.


    3 - bacon grease

    ....in a margarine tub which is sunk into the ground level. The ants here can smell animal fat from what seems like a mile away...Around the outside of the margarine tub I place a big circle of boric acid...and cover it with a rock. The ants have to walk through the boric acid to get to the bacon grease, then back through it on the way out. If they get back to the nest carrying it on their legs, it kills whatever it comes into contact with. We have 4or 5 species of ants here...two of which are lethal!


    4 - Found this in Jerry Bakers stuff

    Ant Ambrosia

    4-5 tbsp. of cornmeal

    3 tbsp. of bacon grease

    3 tbsp. of baking powder

    3 packages of baker's yeast


    Mix the cornmeal and bacon grease into a paste, then add the baking powder and yeast. Dab the gooey mix on the sides of jar lids, and set them near the anthills. The pesky critters will love it to death!!""



    5 - If you can't find Everclear, liquefy orange peels and pour it around the ant hills. You may get fruit flies, but you won't have any trouble with ants!


    6 - I have a friend that put a circle of diatomaceous earth around her aviaries and

    effectively kept the ants out that way. She also uses it to directly attack any hills in the area.


    7 - I believe that the "new age chalk" is a combination of diatomaceous earth and boric acid. Boric acid is the major component in "Roach Proof" and is a fairly benign and very effective means of insect control.


    8 - Amdro is another effective treatment, but it is an actual poison, but safer than others. Both Amdro and Logic are baits that the ants pick up and take into the mound so that the queen eats it.


    9 - (this one's from Tortoise Forum Member, Loni: I had a yard that was half fire ant hill because there were a lot of fruit trees. I used the "erupting volcano" recipe from the kids science fairs. Sprinkle the ant hill liberally with baking soda and then pour concentrated white vinegar (from Home Depot, etc not food grade) on it. The resulting foam is acidic and follows their tunnels into the nest itself and kills them. Then water heavily to disperse the residue when it is done. Didn't have tortoises at the time but was safe for dogs and cats.



    Diatomaceous earth is supposed to work too, but you have to keep it dry. I've not tried it.
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  3. Jenna kamenski

    Jenna kamenski Active Member

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    Awesome! Thank you so much! I will try a few of these on a couple piles and see what we can make happen! I saw everclear was a option and if I remember correctly you can buy it here...might be making a run to the liquor store! Lol
    KarenSoCal and ZEROPILOT like this.
  4. ZEROPILOT

    ZEROPILOT Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Welcome.
    I grew up in Columbia and Rock Hill. Horrible FIRE ANT situation.
    Here in south Florida I did need to poison the yard initially. Now I just bait with glass jars with holes punched in the metal lids. There are no more fire ants.
    The battle CAN be won....And must be because they 100% WILL kill a slow moving tortoise.
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  5. Jenna kamenski

    Jenna kamenski Active Member

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    Yeah they are so bad here! And it probably doesn’t help that it’s rained for what feels like a year straight!

    This will be a strong battle at first but we will get this taken care of - I’m practically on top of torque when he’s outside anyway bc of how paranoid I am with the turkey vultures, stray cats and other animals so I’ll be making sure he doesn’t get near any piles
  6. Relic

    Relic Active Member

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    Texas is home to about a quadrillion fire ants (give or take a brazilian) and it's a never-ending battle. I've had some success carefully and slowly pouring straight muriatic acid (used in swimming pools, available at Lowe's and Home Depot for cheap) into the mound - maybe a pint in volume. It will damage plants that are in the direct path of the liquid, and probably messes with the soil pH for a while in a tiny area, but now is the time to declare war before the weather heats up...

    On a side note, the nests are rather large. There are people that pour molten aluminum into the nest, let it cool, dig it up, and call it art. Here's a link to a YouTube video:

    ZEROPILOT likes this.
  7. Jenna kamenski

    Jenna kamenski Active Member

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    Oh my gosh that is crazy! Yeah I think you’re right...it’s time to declare war! It’s amazing how they are able to build nests like that...my mom just told me a little bit ago she saw one of the queens and wasn’t able to try and kill her! Better luck next time I guess
  8. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member

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    Last summer I had fire ants invade Chug's enclosure, and they were MEAN! They would attack me instantly if I put my foot near their mounds, then bite with ferocity. My legs felt like I was standing in boiling water. I also saw them attack Chug. They swarmed him, and he was all out running to get to his burrow. Thankfully I grabbed him and put a hose to him to get them off.

    I brought Chug into the house for a week while I used Amdro. It worked quickly, and I just watered it in to the ground.
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  9. Mizcreant

    Mizcreant Well-Known Member Tortoise Club

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    Cheap and effective: hominy grits. The workers take it to the queen. The queen eats it. The queen "explodes". Since the queen must distribute food to the workers, the workers eventually die of starvation.
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  10. Jenna kamenski

    Jenna kamenski Active Member

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    Oh no! Thankfully he’s ok!! I would have a panic attack if I see that happen to torque! Fire ants are no joke - awful little things
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  11. JodyK

    JodyK New Member

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    I’m having to deal with fire ants as well! Our tortoise is only a year old so he won’t be out in the yard where all the ants are for a while. I used the baking soda and vinegar method on an ant nest and haven’t seen many here since. But I have seen a few. I read that ant nests or colonies? Can go deep in the ground... so I’m not sure how effective my one gallon of vinegar will last.
  12. Jenna kamenski

    Jenna kamenski Active Member

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    I’ve heard grits help as well from a few different people - I haven’t gotten around to trying it just yet cuz the weather here has been a bit weird but I will soon on a couple piles and will update!
  13. Ink

    Ink New Member

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    I lost a Russian tortoise to fire ants. I lived in Georgia, put him or her, in an outdoor incloser. I have never seen ants there. I also dug at least 24" down and saw nothing. I left him outside for about an hour. Fire ants attacked him. I couldn't save him from his injuries. It was horrible.
  14. Jenna kamenski

    Jenna kamenski Active Member

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    Omg that is so horrible! I am so sorry to hear that :(:(
  15. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I just tried diatomaceous earth again. Had it out for about two weeks now. Poured it right on top of all their holes and it has done nothing.

    @KarenSoCal What kind of Amdro did you use? The granules?

    @ZEROPILOT What kind of poison did you use? My SA leopard babies will be hatching in a couple of months and the whole area is covered with little fire ants. They must be a different species than the ones you have, but they look identical to the naked eye. The ones here don't make mounds like the ones in the southeast. I need to get rid of them before the babies start popping up.
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  16. Jenna kamenski

    Jenna kamenski Active Member

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    I have a few mounds floating around the yard and thankfully torque hasn’t been messed with at all but I’m practically on top of him following his every move - but me on the other hand? I’ve stepped in one and didn’t even look down and before I knew it I had my entire foot covered - needless to say I’m sure everyone within a 5 mile radius heard me...
  17. KarenSoCal

    KarenSoCal Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I used the granules. Other than having to remove Chug from his enclosure for a week, it was easy to use. No ants after 3 days, but I waited another 4 days, watering every day.
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  18. ZEROPILOT

    ZEROPILOT Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    @Tom , I've scoured my garage looking for the bag. I guess I used it all.
    It was AMDRO FIRE ANT eliminator.
    I put it in my broadcast spreader and "did" my front and back yards.
    I've used more than one brand.
    I do this about once a year now. The fire ants have never returned.
    Keep in mind now that my tortoises do not graze my yard regularly. Only when I move them for enclosure repairs or maintenance and when I don't feel like getting my toes bitten off. It rains here almost every day during the Summer. So the bait doesn't have long to stay stuck to the grass blades anyway.
    I also use those glass mayonnaise jars with holes poked in the tops with a bit of bait in those as well hidden, usually inside of the night houses.
    Between my battle with Fire ants, and the mysterious decline in Florida of Fire ants in general, I've been very successful with keeping them off of my property.
    I hope that you are able to win your battle as well.
    Then just a little maintenance takes care of them returning.
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  19. ZEROPILOT

    ZEROPILOT Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Diatomaceous earth turns into mud here in short order.
    It rains every day here during the Summer.
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  20. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    It doesn't rain here from about March or April through November or December. I mean not one drop. I put the DE out two weeks ago and its still bone dry and powdery. The ants just moved it out of their way and have continued on about their business.

    I like your idea of bait stations. I'm going to give that a try.
    ZEROPILOT likes this.
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