The heat continues and yes, those of us that got the showers on Saturday were very appreciative. The hot, dry conditions hasten the harvest time as well as limit the pasture grass and hay production. Cooler weather and a good rain would help everything and make us all feel better.
Looking for something to do this weekend? Come take in the Ultimate Bull Riding Challenge this Friday and Saturday night at the Yalobusha County Multipurpose Building. You’re sure to see some of the baddest bulls in the area as well as some of the best local bull riders around. The bull riding begins at 8 pm each night and will be preceded by a kids’ rodeo from 6:30 – 7:30 pm. For more information on the kids rodeo, please call 662-623-7312. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children. Children six and under are admitted free.
Recent Rains Expose Fire Ants
With the past several weeks of hot dry weather, fire ants have gone unnoticed in most lawns until the recent showers exposed their newly formed mounds. This has been a reminder that most have not applied mid-summer bait to keep them in check.
Fire ant control is a never-ending battle across Mississippi but with a good strategic plan and persistence you can keep them to a minimum in your lawn. There are several methods of applying products that control fire ants such as mound drenches, dry mound treatments, or broadcast sprays or granules.
Probably one of the most effective for homeowners in terms of costs and effort is granular baits applied three times a year (spring, mid-summer, and fall). Baits can be applied to individual mounds but when broadcast across the entire lawn you also eliminate small undetected colonies that quickly replace the larger ones you individually treated.
The insecticides or growth regulators used in baits are intended to be slow acting so that foraging ants will carry the product back to the mound where eventually the entire colony including the queen will be affected.
Application rates for baits is generally only about 1-1.5 pounds per acre and needs to be applied when the ground is dry, ground temperatures are relatively warm, and there is no forecast of rain for a couple of days. Since these ants are great foragers it is not critical that the baits are precisely spread like fertilizer or herbicides as long as they are distributed to all parts of the lawn. When treating individual mounds do not place the bait directly on top of the mounds but broadcast it several feet away.
Baits can provide 80 to 90 percent control when applied two to three times a year. Therefore, if you are like most people and haven’t put out a summer application yet you still can do so and with one more application just before winter should provide excellent control. If you have large colonies that need immediate reduction then individual contact insecticide mound treatments can be used in combination with baits but wait at least a few days to allow the workers to bring the baits into the mound.
There are many trade name baits available containing at least one of the following active ingredients: hydromethylon, fenoxycarb, spinosad, pyriproxyfen, methoprene, or abamectin. Since baits generally use some type of oils for attracting ants it is important to use fresh baits and store them in cool dry areas so they don’t become rancid. Extension publication number 2331 “Control of Insect Pests in and Around the Home Lawn” provides additional information on fire ant control and other home lawn insects. It can be downloaded from the extension web at www.msucares.com.
Labor Day is coming and while it is doesn’t have the same strong tradition in gardening as Good Friday, a good number of Mississippians use it as a planting day for fall vegetables. Watch the thermometer and the weather forecasts and don’t plant cool season things if the same hot, dry conditions are expected to continue for a week. Frequent watering can overcome some heat effects, but it is easier to keep the plants alive flat in the shade than in the ground in the sun.