Those of you who have lived in Austin for any length of time will understand my animosity towards fire ants. With all the incredibly welcome rain we’ve had in the last few weeks, fire ant mounds have been popping up all over town. To help anyone who is looking for child- and environment-safe options for dealing with fire ants, I wanted to revisit a post on using aspartame as ant poison.
I’m thrilled to find spiders, wasps, bees, and other bugs in our yard but fire ants are not welcome. Fire ants are aptly named – the bites burn and sting for a week or more – and they are very aggressive. This year our yard was home to more than usual, which meant we ended up with more bites than usual. With two small, curious children and a dog, we couldn’t just let them stay.
Rich had heard a friend talking about aspartame as a method for controlling fire ants so we decided to give it a try. He brought some packets of Equal home from a run to the local coffee shop and we were in business.
We sprinkled three packets of Equal on the biggest mound and waited to see what would happen. At first it seemed like nothing was changing but after 3 or 4 days the number of ants we could see started to decline. After a week we sprinkled the contents of another packet on the mound to replace what had been taken. By the end of the second week, there were no more ants to be found.
Fire ants often just move their mound when threatened so we kept a close eye on the area. It has now been several months and no new mounds have appeared.
We thought it might have been a coincidence so tried another test. As things outdoors heated up, our kitchen became home to a conga line of little black ants. I put some aspartame along their path and within three days they were gone.
Next time you have an ant infestation, consider aspartame instead of traditional insecticide. And if you eat or drink products containing aspartame, you may want to rethink them; I don’t want anything to happen to you!
If you have other green gardening tips you’d like to share, please do so!