Touted fire ant treatment a sham, LSU AgCenter experts say

Linda Hooper-Bui, Bogren, Richard C., Pollet, Dale K.  |  8/13/2008 12:07:25 AM

News Release Distributed 08/12/08

A fire ant treatment being touted on radio and on the Internet is a sham, LSU AgCenter experts say.

The treatment – pouring two cups of club soda directly in the center of a fire ant mound – won’t control the insects, said Dr. Linda Hooper-Bui, an LSU AgCenter entomologist.

The treatment is based on the idea that carbon dioxide in the water is heavier than air and displaces the oxygen in the mound, suffocating the queen and other ants, and the whole colony will supposedly be dead in two days, Hooper-Bui said.

“There is not enough carbon dioxide in two cups of carbonated water to suffocate an entire fire ant mound,” she said. “The reason why the mound may appear to be dead is you have poured two cups of water on them, and they moved because of the disturbance.”

The entomologist said many ant nests in Louisiana have multiple mounds and will vacate one and move to another following a disturbance.

“It’s not just one mound,” said Dr. Dale Pollet, an LSU AgCenter entomologist. “Several can be connected. Pour water on them and you’re going to make them move.”

The experts say the most effective way to treat fire ants is with baits, which don’t affect other beneficial insects.

The baits work because the ants forage for food, pick up the bait and take it back to the nest, where they feed other ants. Eventually, the chemical finds its way to the queen.

“Once they get the bait into the colony, it works its way into the system,” Pollet said. “Then the colony dwindles and dies.”

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Contacts: Linda Hooper-Bui at (225) 578-1832 or lhooper@agcenter.lsu.edu

Dale Pollet at (225) 578-2370 or dpollet@agcenter.lsu.edu

Writer: Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or rbogren@agcenter.lsu.edu

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