Controlling Fire Ants and Harvesting Spinach

Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.

News article for October 1, 2018

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The continuous rains that we have had throughout the summer have been very good for lawn grasses. It has provided the moisture that is needed for good growth and helped to fill in a lot of bare spots.

One of the down sides to a lot of rain has been the spread of fire ants. Every time it rains the mounds will tend to divide and new mounds start appearing. That has certainly been the case in my lawn and for many of the people whom I have talked with.

October is a great month to control fire ants. The ants have noticed those cool mornings and are actively collecting and storing food to get ready for the winter months.

Using baits this time of year works really well. The baits that I like are insect growth regulators (IGR) that are impregnated into corn grits. Apparently ants like grits and the workers will take them back to the nest and share them with all the other ants. The growth regulator works by interrupting the reproductive cycle and so as the workers die off there are no replacements and no one is left to tend to the colony and so the colony dies.

This process takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the colonies to collapse.

Using the baits does not require you to find all the nests because it is broadcast. The worker ants will find the bait and take it back to the nest. Apply the baits to a dry lawn and when it looks like you will have at least 48 hours without rain. Check the rates, but most of these baits are applied at a rate of 1.5 pounds per acre.

There are a number of IGR ant baits that you can use. Some examples would be Extinguish, Extinguish Plus, Esteem, Logic, Award and Distance.

Using the bait now will give you a lot of relief, however fire ants will migrate back in from adjoining properties so you can repeat the process in May to increase your control.



Popeye used to get untold strength from popping a can of spinach in his mouth, but that did not tempt me. Fresh spinach is a different story.

Fresh spinach is very popular in salads and is not difficult to grow. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals and has twice the fiber of other greens. It is a good source of vitamin A and is reported to improve blood pressure, reduce the risks of cancer, prevents cataracts and helps with weight control.

Spinach offers another healthy choice for the fall garden and can be planted from October through February.

Start by applying 4-5 pounds of 8-24-24 fertilizer per 100 feet of row prior to planting and plan to side dress with 2 pounds of calcium nitrate in about 30 days. Space seeds about 3 to 6 inches apart within the row and make 2 drills on each row to maximize space.

The variety that won me over, both to eat and grow is Melody. It has a great flavor and produces well. There are other recommended varieties such Bloomsdale, Tyee and Unipak 151 which are all crinkled leaf or Savoy types. Smooth leaf varieties would include Ballet and Tiger Cat.

Spinach leaves will be ready to harvest in 45 to 50 days. Cut the leaves off a couple of inches from the soil line and you can get multiple harvests from the same plant.

For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at

10/1/2018 6:26:47 PM
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