Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I loathe leaf cutter ants!

The first time I visited Costa Rica I found the leaf cutter ants amazing. The second time I visited C.R., I found a huge trail of the ants in Manuel Antonio National Park and found them amusing. Sometime after that, Patrick and Azure watched a show about leaf cutter ants on Discovery Channel and explained to me how these miracle ants take the pieces of leaves they cut back to their ant hill and use the pieces to make a fungus which they then live on for years. Patrick also said the scientists researching these ants found that their ant hills are actually massive. They poured cement into one ant civilization and continued to pour until they used tons of cement. It cured to the size of most people’s living rooms. Huge!

According to this show, these ants are important to the eco-system. I’m all for that but since I’ve been living in Costa Rica, I believe these little things are one of the most destructive things I’ve come across. They tore into my lower front garden a few months ago and stripped the whole thing bare. I definitely was not happy about this situation but I focused my attention on the upper garden and hoped that the lower garden would grow back by the time I wanted to start showing it some affection. Eventually, the lower garden did grow back and maybe even looked better than before so I happily ignored the ants. Big mistake!

These ants came back with a vengeance about a month later. The lower garden has not even been able to recoup since then. Each time a leaf grows back an ant is waiting to haul it away.

Yesterday I pointed out to Patrick an old rose bush in the front yard that I have been trying to “save”. Stunning red leaves covered the stems and the beginnings of buds peeked out. I was proud of my effort and gardening skills. Only, later the same afternoon, the entire bush had been stripped bare by leaf-cutter ants. I’m so peeved!

Then Azure noticed more leaf cutter ants carrying flower petals and stems through my newly planted upper flowerbed! Luckily, the flowers in that bed are too young and the ants are just marching thru instead attacking some plants somewhere under the car port and in the ditch. Whew!

I’ve done some research on the internet trying to find some suggestions on how to get rid of these pests. Unfortunately, no one has reliable information except for some organic pesticide I haven’t found here that uses citrus juice. Using the citrus juice theory, I started cutting limes in half and juicing them near the ants but it only causes a slowdown for a short period of time then they are back to full force garden demolition.

Can someone please help me with ideas to destroy these ants?!?


Anonymous said...

If you are looking for an "organic" or "eco-friendly" solution, forget it. Go to your local cooperativo, the place where they sell all the livestock feed and farm supplies and ask. You will need to use something akin to roundup in the states. Those ants are destructive and difficult to destroy, therefore, you need something that will kill almost anything. Don't you have a gardener, he would know...?

Your posts sound like your family is trying to figure allot of stuff out on your own, using US logic and you are not attempting to seek out local advice. Generally speaking, if you need to solve a problem, you can go to a local establishment that provides product or services for that type of situation and get the answer. Most people are very cooperative and happy to help.

Jessica said...

I have recently dealt with cutting ants here in Puerto Vallarta. I won't bore you with my saga, but in the end it seems like Selsun Oro and boiling water down the entrance did the trick. So far. It's only been 5 days since the last activity but hopefully I've found a solution. It took 3 applications. These creatures regroup amazingly well. I also had some luck keeping them at bay from a copa de oro by sprinkling cinnamon around the base. This also keeps ants out of the house. Best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...

ashes around plants fend off ants but you have to be consistant bout making an edge around at all times. and you cant use with iffy plants that cant take alot of acidic soils. ashes also good around peremiter of homes to keeps ants out. i have many kinds of ants in yard and in southern texas the nasty leaf cutters too. I experimented with ashes and i have to find an ant yet that will cross a line of ashes or lime or laundry soap.tide works best.

Anonymous said...

It was extremely interesting for me to read that blog. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to them. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon.

Jessica said...

The Selsun Oro was barely a deterrent, after all. But I did notice that they particularly liked my ferns so when the last invasion came I plunked a few in their path. Eight ferns later, the ants left happy and content and my garden was untouched. The ferns grow back quickly, too. Hope this helps.