There is an e-mail circulating the information highway that claims you can effectively kill fire ants by pouring club soda on the mound. I got so excited I went out a bought a liter to give it a try.
My garden expert at the Expo today said “Not so fast.”
Many home remedies have been proposed or reportedly used; however, many fire ant products on the market are as safe as or safer than the home remedies. All too often, a home remedy will not succeed in killing the entire imported fire ant colony. To completely eliminate a colony, it is necessary to kill the egg-laying queen who may be sitting on her thrown a much as 12 feet underground!
You’d need a case of club soda to reach her. If you insist on trying the club soda remedy, you might want to add a fifth of scotch. That should eliminate the problem or at least paralyze the colony for several days.
Besides club soda, other commonly suggested home remedies include instant grits, baking soda, vinegar, molasses, plaster of Paris, and aspartame. All have scientifically proven to have little or no effect.
Home remedies are often desired because they are perceived as being safe, but this is not always true. Gasoline or diesel oil, chlorine bleach, ammonia, drain cleaners, and acids are dangerous to pets, children, and livestock, and the runoff can contaminate water.
One old home remedy, pouring hot water on the mound, is about 60 percent effective, but it is dangerous to the applicator and will kill the surrounding vegetation. Additionally, approximately three gallons of water must be used in an attempt to reach the reproductive areas of the mound.
Soapy water is also about 60 to 70 percent effective. Hot or soapy water may kill only a portion of the colony or cause it to move. Colony relocation is also likely to occur when someone tries to dig a colony out of an area. This practice must be done carefully to avoid being stung.
One method currently being evaluated and showing some promise as an effective home remedy is an ant mound drench using a mixture of dishwashing liquid and citrus oil.