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My Cure For Cutter Ant Infestation


Guiness
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My experiences with leaf cutting ants and some comments from others over the years.;

I have gone through 3 packages of Patron (& and given the neighbor's gardener a 4th) and if it works at all it is only temporary. I have watched them carry the pellets away to their nests many times and sometimes it stops them for a week or so. Often they just completely ignore the pellets even though they are right on their path. I have also used dropping from another colony twice and they just ignore it-I've watched them walk right through it. I have also used Hormigol and Flash. Both of these powders you sprinkle on the plants and/or on the ground at the base of the plant. The Hormigol smells terrible and gets washed away when you water. After reading about the active ingriedients in Flash (Parathion) I quit using it as it is deadly to many things including pets.

The lady at the insecticide store on the libramiento north of Walmart suggested dissolving Hormigol in water and spraying it on and around the plant. I've tried this for almost ayear and it can be effective. You spray it on the leaves (especially new growth) where it leaves a residue that they avoid. When there is new growth or rain washes it off you have to respray. It doesn't smell near as bad as when it is used dry. Spraying it on the ground or wall where they usually pass also seems to deter them. I go out every night (sometimes twice) on ant patrol. If they are attacking a plant I spray them with Raid House & Garden. I kill every one I can and the residue that is on the plant seems to deter them for up to 10 days. I've gone through many cans of raid. I have a large property with absentee owners on both sides (where the ants usually come from) so maybe I'm not typical but there doesn't seem to be any sure fire solution-just a combination of things. Reading about this problem locally in the 1940s they pumped a potent gas into the colonies which was pretty effective but I haven't come across anyone that does it now.

Maybe a pet anteater is the solution.

-In our constant fight to stop cutter ants from denuding three olive trees...we were told about a very simple solution:

Wrap a wide sheet of saran wrap, twice around the tree at waist height. Secure with masking tape or painters tape. place an inch wide circle of vaseline around your saran wrap...not too much or it will melt and run off your 'trap."

You will need to renew your saran as it gets full of ants or aphids. I am bringing back "tanglefoot" from the US...which will not run or melt...but the vaseline has stopped the little "bastards" for now.

-We've tried the powder, pouring stuff down the holes, etc, etc. The only thing that has worked consistently for us is something called Trompa in pellet form.

You find the hole and the trail and sprinkle it along the trail. They take it into the hole and it kills the nest.

There's something similar also available but the pellets are too large and they won't pick them up and take them into the nest. You can get the Trompa at the garden store in Riberas next to the 7-11. They have small and large size packages.

-I use Tree Tanglefoot like the OP suggested and it works very well on trees. Much more effective than Trompa, Patron, Hormigol, Fito Klor, etc. The Tree Tanglefoot won't really work on plants that have multiple stems or multiple places where the plant makes contact with the ground or a wall.

I use Tree Tanglefoot like the OP suggested and it works very well on trees. Much more effective than Trompa, Patron, Hormigol, Fito Klor, etc. The Tree Tanglefoot won't really work on plants that have multiple stems or multiple places where the plant makes contact with the ground or a wall.

-After awhile I find the ants avoid the pellet types like Trompa and Patron. Meanwhile I notice my dogs will eat the pellet

-Someone on this forum once mentioned to put laundry detergent down their holes. It works quite well for several weeks.

-Leaf cutting ants were also stripping my olive tree until I put a band of Tree Tanglefoot around it. Also on my Bauhinia (orchid tree) some insects would cut all the flower buds off at some point. Now with the TT band on it I've had continuous flowers for about 6 months. Tree Tanglefoot has been a godsend. I wish I had found it 20 years ago. And it isn't dangerous chemicals.

-Cal is a white wash mixed with lime....it does little if anything to stop cutter ants...it slows up worms and borers.....

- Formic acid and sticky glue would be considered an organic pest control solution. Gempler's has the bulk sticky stuff:

-make a solution of hormigol or fito chlor and water and spray it on leaves

-In our yard they go for the tender leafs and ignore the tougher ones. So they leave alone the cypress, magnolia, croton, guayaba, some spiny hedge with thick leaves, and ice plants. Also have never eaten the banana trees or birds of paradise. In my herb garden they occasionally attack the basil, but haven't gone for the others (lemon grass, rosemary, oregano, chives).
The list of plants they have gone for is much longer, unfortunately.

-make tobacco spray for Whitefly. Tobacco is extremely popular here among Mexican gardeners/farmers. The nicotine sulphate is toxic to ants, if they walk through it, they will die. It is important to get the right tobacco though. Many people recommend cheap cigarettes, but the right one is like a brick, it is sold in Soriana garden section for example. I think she said it was "Ace" brand, it is like a tobacco dust. This tobacco is 9 times stronger than cigarette tobacco - it is unsmokable. 

-In addition to the above they don't touch my Baby sun rose, Queen's wreath, Spathe, Flame vine, Aloe, Heliconia, Dwarf Poinciana, Bottle brush, bamboo, Ficus, Crown of thorns, palms, Society garlic, Lily of the valley Desert rose, Natal plum, Aguave, Clivia, Begonia, banana, Caladium, wandering jew, Tradescantia pallida, Chalice vine, Morning glory Black eyed Susan vine, Lantana, Gazania. And more.

For plants with single or a few stems I use Tree Tanglefoot. to stop the ants.

-The ants like my two different species of Thunbergia. Thunbergia often has disease problems-leaves die and go brown, little white "things" cover the stems and the plant exudes a sticky substance. And the root often gets a huge fungus/worm infection so that the plant has to be cut right back and sprayed.

I wonder if you nade a small moat filled with water areound each plant would work but I have not figured out how to make an efective moat holder.

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6 hours ago, bdmowers said:

There is no remedy that works universally all the time to stop cutter ants.  Every remedy works for a while then no longer works.  Cutter ants target a plant one year then the next year one they haven`t touched for years.  They will not touch the orange tree in one yard but decimate the one next door. There are things you can do for specific trees like putting Joker Rojo around the bottom of the stem or trunk.  Ants stick to this and quickly learn they can`t go over it - until they learn to put a stem of grass across the goo.  Putting rice near an entrance to a new home will kill the ants for a while, then it won`t.  Otherwise you just learn to deal with losing a tree, a bush or half the plants in your yard.  Then you replace these with plants they don`t touch like cactus. In other words, you learn humility.  Of course, it`s always amusing to trade stories about the exploits of cutter ants, the lords of our land.

Yes, I have a grudging admiration for them. I never minded the normal sacrifices made to the cutter ants. We co-existed. This year they got to me. I have recently moved. Different gardens, different problems — maybe.  Oh, and I did not move because of the ants. That’s an extreme way of dealing with them. 😁

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9 hours ago, bdmowers said:

There is no remedy that works universally all the time to stop cutter ants.  Every remedy works for a while then no longer works.  Cutter ants target a plant one year then the next year one they haven`t touched for years.  They will not touch the orange tree in one yard but decimate the one next door. There are things you can do for specific trees like putting Joker Rojo around the bottom of the stem or trunk.  Ants stick to this and quickly learn they can`t go over it - until they learn to put a stem of grass across the goo.  Putting rice near an entrance to a new home will kill the ants for a while, then it won`t.  Otherwise you just learn to deal with losing a tree, a bush or half the plants in your yard.  Then you replace these with plants they don`t touch like cactus. In other words, you learn humility.  Of course, it`s always amusing to trade stories about the exploits of cutter ants, the lords of our land.

My daughter is (was) an advocate for rice and when we found the ants after mt rose bed, she sprinkled rice liberally across their path and near the plants they were eating. Next night most plants had lost their leaves and the ants had taken all the rice to their nest. Enough with the rice, says I and out came the Hormigal. Did the job and now, 3 weeks later, the next is still inactive. I use it sparingly and only directly into the nest to limit any danger to pets.

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2 hours ago, Xena said:

Yes, I have a grudging admiration for them. I never minded the normal sacrifices made to the cutter ants. We co-existed. This year they got to me. I have recently moved. Different gardens, different problems — maybe.  Oh, and I did not move because of the ants. That’s an extreme way of dealing with them. 😁

The round about route they take to get to the right plants can be amazing.

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56 minutes ago, bmh said:

We have been in the same spot for 20 years , we had the ants when we came in and they are still there..  and will be there long after we leave..

They will survive long after us.

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