Fire ants in the compost

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by kabrac, Mar 21, 2009.

  1. kabrac

    kabrac LawnSite Member
    from Alabama
    Posts: 146

    Went out to turn my pile and on one side fire ants! I've been putting fruit/vegtable/egg shells/coffee grounds in it. How do they survive the intense heat and I keep it moist to wet. Right now I'm trying boiling water. I have heard dilluted molasses water will work and if that doesn't work I will have to try our secret sosuthern special- grits! When the ants eat the grits they swell and explode, this usually takes a couple days though. They are smart they aren't nsting in the compost but a foot away in the ground. I've also heard you can irritate them but I don't want them to kill my worms! Any more suggestions would be helpful. I WILL NOT USE POISON SO DO NOT RECOMMEND IT.
     
  2. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    You don't have to poison you can repel and send them to others, there are several essential oils you can use as a spray once a month, after a couple of months they will move

    We have trialed our essentila 1 for 15 months in Florida, it moves them right out of the area, it does kill them
     
  3. hunter

    hunter LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 254

    I've suggested this before use orange oil. Works great.
     
  4. kabrac

    kabrac LawnSite Member
    from Alabama
    Posts: 146

    I've read about this, but where do you get it...grocery store?
     
  5. kabrac

    kabrac LawnSite Member
    from Alabama
    Posts: 146

    Also if I don't irritate the pile even though I need to, can the ants and the worms live peacefully. I would imagine if I messed with the pile that they would attack anything.
     
  6. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    I meant to say it does NOT kill them, it will if you coat them with it but that leaves out 99.999% of the nest
     
  7. Tim Wilson

    Tim Wilson LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 795

    This makes it sound like you are using thermophilic (sp?) composting, yet you talk of worms. If you are using thermophilic composting (TC), the heat is too great for worms. This means you are probably not getting the temperatures required. If you are using TC you put all the ingredients in at once and compost; if you add ingredients over time, you will attract pests and cool down the pile.

    If using worms, either put all the food and bedding in at once, placing the worms at one end so they work their way through the pile (usually used for manure and wood) OR feed them only as much as they can eat in a fairly short time (usually used for vegetable, kitchen scraps, etc.). This avoids attracting pests.
     
  8. kabrac

    kabrac LawnSite Member
    from Alabama
    Posts: 146

    It is a passive pile. It is directly on the ground so worms can enter. It is leaves and grass clippings mixed with some soil and every 3 days I add coffee grounds/fruit and vegtable scrap/egg shells. I put this in the bottom middle of the pile. Each time I rake the top off to put the ingredients in, steam comes out and it is a sweet earth smell. My question is can the fire ants survive that extreme heat. Yesterday I put boiling water, dilluted molasses water, and my favorite...grits. I haven't been out to the pile today. Also How often should I be turning this pile. I usually just pke it or fluff it up every 7 to 10 days, it should be cooking faster...I keep it wet...it is in the mid and afternoon sun to heat the pile even more? Just thought it would be done by now. It's been going on a couple months maybe it is because I keep adding to the pile before it has time to cook what is already there.
     
  9. Tim Wilson

    Tim Wilson LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 795

    I really don't think I can add to what I suggested. If you keep adding to your pile, it will not finish. If you are cold composting it takes a year. If its cool enough for worms, its cool enough for ants, etc.

    If you wish to do thermophillic composting successfully you must have a correct C:N ratio. Google 'compost calculator' and 'Rodale institute'.

    It sounds more like you have a household heap with a goal of handling kitchen scraps. This is better suited to organize with composting worms.
     
  10. kabrac

    kabrac LawnSite Member
    from Alabama
    Posts: 146

    Sometimes it's cool and some days it is steaming. I think your right I need to stop adding. I don't know it's just me but it seems like it's at it's hottest when I don't turn it for 10 to 14 days and then when I turn it it takes longer to heat up again. I know I have to turn it to areate the hole pile but don't you want it to be steaming all the time. It seems like it would get done faster if I just let it sit and turn every other week?
     

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