The ants are a problem to man and beast alike. They will chew on anything that disturbs them and have made huge ant hills out in some of the pastures that are about two feet wide and a foot or more tall. We have come to realize that if someone were injured and unable to get off of the ground in the vacinity of these ants, it would be a very bad problem, maybe even lethal.
Another problem we have discovered is that the ants will 'nurse' and care for aphids. There were parts of the garden last summer that had bad infestations of aphids, while the rest was fine. It didn't seem to fit the usual pattern of an aphid infestation. What I discovered is that ants use aphids as a food source. They don't eat the aphids, they eat the 'nectar' or residue the aphids produce as they feed on the plants. The ants will over winter a colony of aphids down in their tunnels, caring for their eggs and keeping them alive until spring. Then the ants will find suitable plant life to sustain the aphid population and will transport them to the chosen location. As the aphid population thrives, the ants are fed. Rather ingenious, isn't it? But at the same time, it increases the ant population in my garden. A couple of years ago, it got to the point that each time I went to pick the garden, I came in with a number of ant bites. It was unavoidable.
Now, back to coffee grounds. I ran across this article about ways to erradicate ants. Most of the information deals with 'regular' ants, not fire ants. Fire ants are extremely aggressive when protecting their homes. If you disturb a mound, they will swarm out by the hundreds, or thousands, and repeatedly sting the intruder. Each sting hurts and leaves a small red whelp. By the next day there is a raised area with pus in it that itches.
Even though the article has several recommendations we could try, some of them are dangerous to pets or animals. The borax solution would probably work well, but would endanger our cats, so it is not an option. What caught my attention was the coffee grounds. Since we drink coffee, we have a ready supply of grounds. The article says, "Ants are extremely susceptible to caffeine. Leave coffee grounds (used works) where the ants are and they will carry it home and eat it. This method takes a few weeks to see."
|One of the first places I put the coffee grounds. The ants appear to be gone.|
For the past few weeks, I have been putting our coffee grounds around a number of anthills. Some of them seems to be gone, others seem to have just moved their hills over a ways. But I am hopeful. Maybe, just maybe, this will help kill out a few colonies and make it a little safer, especially in the garden. And if it does work, maybe I won't have as much competition from the aphids for my vegetables.
|A new small ant hill on the left with coffee grounds, old inactive hill on the right.|
This is one of those solutions that doesn't require a lot of work or preparation. Just a container for keeping coffee grounds and a few minutes of time. Hope it works. We'll keep you updated.
Until next time - Fern