1/25/2006

Baffling the Fire Ants

If you are from the Southern US, or South America, you probably have had the unpleasant experience of being assaulted by fire ants (Solenopsis invicta). Ouch, do they sting. Then they itch like no other insect bite can itch.

I found out recently that fire ants also kill bluebirds! According to Tim Davis, a Clemson extension agent, they are responsible for half the predation on bluebirds. I tend to be a plant person, but bluebirds are one of those animals, like the flatworms, that are just irresistable.

If you love making homes for the bluebirds as much as me, then you might want to protect them with an easy to make baffler. Here are the steps as outlined by Davis to build a fire-ant baffler:

1) Cut the top part off a 12-oz Coke bottle, or the beverage of your choice, to form a funnel. (I also use these makeshift funnels to put dirt into terrariums)

2) Take your funnel and tape it upside-down on the post that holds your bluebird house. Electrical tape works well since it’s waterproof and durable. It’s important to tape it tightly, so you don’t leave any space between the tape and the pole for them to climb through.

3) Enjoy watching your Bluebirds in their safe home!

2 comments:

Jill said...

Interesting... I'll have to try this.

Judith's Garden said...

I have experienced being attacked by fire ants while in the south--OUCH. We have red ants in the northeast that attack but not with such ferocity. I didn't know they attacked bluebirds! (I'd like to see more bluebirds where I live--in December w/harsh winters the Nova Scotia bluebirds visit my rhus.)