Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How Not to Kill Fire Ants

Randy R. Cox

They say everything in Texas stings, bites, or scratches. If you don’t want to find this out first hand, you need to know how not to kill fire ants.

Back in the last Great Depression—1984--a lot of small Texas business men were forced to find jobs to supplement their struggling businesses. Our Art Gallery was a ghost town, so I took a construction job to keep the doors open. I met another small Texas business man in similar shape and we worked together for a couple of months.

He was a welder assigned to work with an electrician…me. He had a country welding business in west Texas. Over the long ten and twelve hours days we soon ran out of true stories, but before we got to that inevitable position, he told me about his fire ant problem.

All my stories are true, but some of them are more true than others. This one is gospel.

Folks with work during these days were prone to lower the wages and insist we take breaks on our own time between 12 hours shifts rather than during them. This old welder was the only worker on the job happy with the wages and conditions.

He said farmers wouldn’t pay much for welding or anything else for that matter. He said if he charged a living wage, they’d just do the welding themselves. So he was making what seemed like a fortune. They paid time and a half for overtime, and he thought that was like winning the lotto.

Anyway, he said he lived in a trailer on about 50 acres of land. His trailer was on blocks a short distance from a country gravel road, and across the road from him was a real house with a front porch that ran across the full front of the old farm house.

He had never spoken with his neighbors, but they waved as often as they saw each other. Folks in Texas waved at everyone in those days. Anyway, like everyone else in Texas, he had an ongoing battle with the fire ants, and the ants were winning.

One Saturday morning, the welder was shaking his head at the new mounds the antshad built under the walking stones he had placed from his driveway to the trailer. He had tried all kinds of poison and he was worried that his dogs were eating as much of it as the ants were. He suddenly had an idea. Ants breathed oxygen just like people did. He thought he might just fill their hole with Acetylene and let them breathe that for a while.

His neighbor and his neighbor’s wife were sitting on their porch watching him as he unrolled the rubber hose from his welding truck parked in the driveway. He waved at his neighbor’s and they waved back.

He stuck the torch of his rig deep down in the fire ant hole, and stepped well back as those ants attacked the torch in full force. He turned on the Acetylene and waited for the gas to filter through the network of the mound.

Just then his wife called out from the trailer. He had a phone call.

He jammed the handle on his torch handle to keep the gas flowing and went into the house to answer the phone. He intended to take care of business quickly and return to his project shortly.

Once inside, he was distracted by whatever problem the phone call presented and he forgot about his project. After a longer while than was prudent, he hung up the phone and suddenly remembered the hose he had left flowing. He ran outside and turned it all off.

A lot of the ants were dead and those that were still moving were moving slowly. He thought he had “done good!”

He rolled up his hose and put the torch away. He waved at his neighbors on the porch across the road and again they waved back.

With his rig all buttoned up, he looked back across the road at his neighbor just in time to see him pull out his pipe. Before he had time to process this new development, the neighbor flipped open a Zippo and lit the pipe.

The flower bed exploded. Dirt and fire ants filled the air. His neighbor and his neighbor’s wife were stunned and covered with dirt. They began to dance. The dance grew intense and the two swatted and scraped at their bodies. Soon articles of clothing began to be ripped off and fly off the porch.

The old welder got to know a little more about his neighbors than he really wanted to know.

This is not the best way to kill fire ants! Don’t try this at home!

The internet is full of old wives tales on how to get rid off fire ants. Fire ants are relatively new to North America. What do the old wives know about fire ants? If the horned toad or the lizard can’t handle the fire ants, the old wives are not likely to know what to do.

Other ways How not to kill fire ants

To get right to the bottom of the problem and rid yourself of the fire ants before they rid themselves of you you’ve got to use orthene. It works!


  1. This is one of those stories that you know something bad is coming but you cant help but find out what it is, put a nice smile on my face after reading this. If only we stepped back and thought everything through before doing something stupid.

  2. That must have been a sight. How long was that gas on?