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fire ants; horses learn to avoid?

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  • fire ants; horses learn to avoid?

    I have probably 15-20 fire ant nests over my grazing pastures. The horses aren't home yet (currently boarded while I fix up the place, especially after Isaac; sigh), but they're all "northerners" who have never experienced fire ants.

    I found the thread from earlier about methods to kill them, but I don't think many of those methods (commercial sprays/powders) are safe for grazing pastures. Correct me if I'm wrong!

    Short of spending the rest of my life hosing those little cretins out every day, how do the horses handle them? Do they just get used to avoiding the nests? They're pretty clear if I keep the grass mowed down. Or will they constantly be walking over/grazing on the nests, therefore I need to wage the ultimate war?

  • #2
    We had the WORST experience with fire ants this year. My horse stepped in a mound ( turned his leg into oozing Freddy Kruger ground beef nastiness) and then a week later he rolled on a pile and the right side of his face sloughed off.
    He lived on pain killers and antihistamine for weeks, while covered in soothing salves. It was a nightmare.
    We were spraying mounds weekly.
    My advice, especially since your horses aren't home yet is either torch them, or find the professional grade super stuff and wipe them out. You can always shovel out the mounds once they are confirmed dead and eliminate most of the chemicals.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble

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    • #3
      I've found that I have FAR more mounds around the house, in the garden, and around the front yard. I think that's because the pastures are more heavily traveled and fire ants don't like the activity (they like being up around the house and garden because there's water there - our pasture is dry as a bone!)
      Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

      Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com

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      • #4
        We hired a commercial service to remove our fire ants and it has been very successful. There is no harm done to the horses [I have had this service for several years now and have 40 horses] From what I have learned after trying to remove them myself, each time you interfere with a mound, they simply move to another spot on your farm. It was only when I got this whole farm treatment that we eradicated the problem but it isn't cheap!

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
          We were spraying mounds weekly.
          My advice, especially since your horses aren't home yet is either torch them, or find the professional grade super stuff and wipe them out. You can always shovel out the mounds once they are confirmed dead and eliminate most of the chemicals.
          That is what I'm considering doing. But what about maintenance once the horses are there?

          Originally posted by Spring View Post
          We hired a commercial service to remove our fire ants and it has been very successful. There is no harm done to the horses [I have had this service for several years now and have 40 horses] From what I have learned after trying to remove them myself, each time you interfere with a mound, they simply move to another spot on your farm. It was only when I got this whole farm treatment that we eradicated the problem but it isn't cheap!
          This is what I'm afraid of. I'll definitely look into commercial people, and ask neighbors who have horses what they do. It may be worth it in vet bills I'd have to pay every time one of the horses gets swarmed. I have a very stupid young TB who I'm certain will roll in them, eat them, lay in them, etc.

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          • #6
            I am getting a ton now at the barn and on the path where I walk the dogs. More then I have ever seen. The dogs got bit to hell when one rolled in it and the other was standing in it. Horse has not been bitten yet.

            I got the chems out and sprayed the mounds and then shoveled the sand away. What a pain.
            I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.

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            • #7
              You could use Amdro or its equivalent to treat the mounds. A bit pricey but will do the trick. I've used it in my yard around the dogs with no problems. You sprinkly it around each mound so there isn't a great risk that the horses will get into it and if they do I don't think it will hurt them. Petstorejunkie, your horse must be allergic. I've never had a problem with my horses getting bitten.
              I'm a second hand Vegan. Cows eat grass. I eat cows.

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              • #8
                I'm scared to say this, but my horses have never been bitten either AFAIK.

                I use Amdro bait. It's important to read the directions, and sprinkle it around the mound at a distance of about three feet. That way, you don't disturb the mound and make them move elsewhere before they pick it up and take it back to the mound.

                The Amdro container says you can use it on pasture so long as the grazing animals aren't intended for food. I never know quite what to make of that. But since I'm not planning on eating the horses, I go ahead and use it.
                I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

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                • #9
                  Instant grits or puffed rice cereal Both will kill fire ants and are safe for pastures.
                  If wishes were horses then beggars would ride...
                  DLA: Draft Lovers Anonymous
                  Originally posted by talkofthetown
                  As in, the majikal butterfly-fahting gypsy vanners.

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                  • #10
                    This is a good summary of what products are available and how to use them
                    http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/no...rifanote04.htm


                    Keep in mind that treating for fire ants is going to be an ongoing battle. You might "eradicate" them on your farm but eventually they'll move back in from surrounding areas and need to be re-treated. The horses may learn to avoid the mounds but my poor horse always get bitten after heavy rain storms. The ants are washed up out of the ground and crawl up on the grass, waiting to latch on to unsuspecting horse noses and legs Plus keep in mind that the ant baits are also killing the native ants (not just fire ants), which opens up more territory for fire ants to move back in. They are better at colonizing than the native species which is why they've manged to become such a problem. So use sparingly as much as possible and try to be sure the mounds you're treating are red imported fire ants and not your native ants
                    "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

                    Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by morganpony86 View Post
                      That is what I'm considering doing. But what about maintenance once the horses are there? .
                      paragraph 14 of attached article:

                      to exceed the oral LD50 standard, a 50 pound dog would have to eat 9 pounds of Amdro a day

                      http://www.uaex.edu/other_areas/publ...F/FSA-7052.pdf

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' View Post
                        The Amdro container says you can use it on pasture so long as the grazing animals aren't intended for food. I never know quite what to make of that. But since I'm not planning on eating the horses, I go ahead and use it.
                        Yes, coworkers have recommended Amdro as well.
                        I don't plan on eating mine either, so I suppose it's ok. A vet friend that recommended it told me "well, I've been using it for 10 years and all my horses are still alive" when I asked about the safety.

                        Originally posted by HydroPHILE View Post
                        Instant grits or puffed rice cereal Both will kill fire ants and are safe for pastures.
                        I have also read that Splenda is also toxic to them...? I may try a couple of these "non toxic" remedies first, just to see how well they work.

                        Originally posted by SkipHiLad4me View Post
                        This is a good summary of what products are available and how to use them
                        http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/no...rifanote04.htm
                        Plus keep in mind that the ant baits are also killing the native ants (not just fire ants), which opens up more territory for fire ants to move back in. They are better at colonizing than the native species which is why they've manged to become such a problem. So use sparingly as much as possible and try to be sure the mounds you're treating are red imported fire ants and not your native ants
                        Yes, I have that link already in my bookmarks; thanks!

                        Yes, that is why I want to stay away from the toxic baits if possible. I'm certain the nests I'm waging war against are fire ants; my legs have the battle scars to prove it. I've resorted to wearing my Bog boots (comfort tested to -40 degrees!) from my days up north to keep them off my ankles.

                        I'm working up the bravery to mix nests, since I've read the little monsters fight to the death. But I'm not sure the best way to do that, considering most of the nests are 50+ yards apart, if not much further.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by clanter View Post
                          paragraph 14 of attached article:

                          to exceed the oral LD50 standard, a 50 pound dog would have to eat 9 pounds of Amdro a day

                          http://www.uaex.edu/other_areas/publ...F/FSA-7052.pdf
                          Yeah, my dad's old catahoula once ate a pound of the stuff, didn't even faze her.

                          For some reason fire ants are as big a problem around here as they once were. I don't know if its the dry weather or what. I used to have to treat my yard several times during the summer but I haven't had to treat in a couple of years now. Maybe its those predator flies they are releasing.

                          Grits or puffed rice won't kill fire ants. That's an old wives' tale.
                          Last edited by wireweiners; Sep. 7, 2012, 01:18 PM. Reason: more info
                          I'm a second hand Vegan. Cows eat grass. I eat cows.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by morganpony86 View Post
                            I have also read that [in addition to grits and puffed rice cereal] Splenda is also toxic to them...? I may try a couple of these "non toxic" remedies first, just to see how well they work.
                            .
                            I hadn't heard the Splenda thing before, but alas, according to snopes, it isn't true. They even tried it!

                            Neither grits nor puffed rice cereal will work, sadly. The theory is that the ants ingest these substances and explode. But ants can't eat solid food. Remember The Fly with Jeff Goldblum? Yeah. That's how they eat stuff. Blech.

                            People think these things work because you can sprinkle darn near anything on a mound and the ants will move the mound somewhere else.
                            I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The place I use is in NC is : www.thefireantman.com The man is Mark Konish 336-288-8868 We were heavily infested and had lots of complaints from boarders. We have been ant free for several years now on our 60 acres. I am not sure how far out of state he goes but I can assure you it works and there has been no damage to our horses.

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                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' View Post
                                I hadn't heard the Splenda thing before, but alas, according to snopes, it isn't true. They even tried it!

                                Neither grits nor puffed rice cereal will work, sadly.
                                Damn you for bursting my bubble. I was all set to go and buy 10lbs of Splenda! But seriously, thanks for snopes'ing that for me. I hadn't thought to run it through there!

                                Thanks for the recommendation, Spring, but I'm in Louisiana so I'm not sure they'll travel that far. But I will start getting some quotes from local pest control places to see what they can do for me.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  If your horses, dogs, cats, or you get bit, pour witch hazel on the bites and the sting will disappear.

                                  Years ago, my QH rolled in ants and was covered with them, he was runnning all over the pasture, rolling, etc. I hosed him repeatedly, then he started scratching every part of his body -I doused him with witch hazel and he stopped. I repeated it for several times a day for a couple days and the bumps disappeared and didn't open up - couldn't tell anything had happened and he was comfortable. (I called the vet and he said that was the best thing to do)

                                  I keep several bottles in the barn, trailer, and at home. It's easy to find in grocery stores, Wal-Mart, etc located near rubbing alchol and very inexpensive.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    No Chemicals

                                    Here is what my husband and I do in our 5 acre pasture....we walk around with long piece of rebar and poke it down into the mounds and stir it around. The mounds collapse and suffocates those left inside. If the ants all come out to the surface we takes a shovel full from one mound and dump them on another mound. We find that we have far fewer mounds than any of our neighbors who do nothing.
                                    "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Heart's Journey View Post
                                      If your horses, dogs, cats, or you get bit, pour witch hazel on the bites and the sting will disappear.
                                      Thanks for this tip, I'll definitely go buy some to try this weekend; I usually get bitten several times.


                                      Originally posted by PRS View Post
                                      Here is what my husband and I do in our 5 acre pasture....we walk around with long piece of rebar and poke it down into the mounds and stir it around. The mounds collapse and suffocates those left inside. If the ants all come out to the surface we takes a shovel full from one mound and dump them on another mound. We find that we have far fewer mounds than any of our neighbors who do nothing.
                                      I have thought about doing this! I figure if I take 15 minutes to do it every week, they'll get pissed off enough to at least move to my neighbors.

                                      But I have to ask, how do you move the piles? Don't they swarm the shovel handle? Do you just shovel and make a break for the closest pile as fast as you can? All of my nests are at least 50' apart.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        From UGa's ag college publication
                                        Some people believe shoveling one mound on top of another will force ants to kill each other, but this is not true.
                                        I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show

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