Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fire Ant Treatment Time

It's that time of year again. School is back in session, football is around the corner, fall harvesting will begin, and it's time to fight fire ants, says a University of Georgia entomologist.

Most people treat when they see active fire ants. "April and September are good times to apply baits, once at the start of the season and toward the end to help control before they come back in the spring," said Will Hudson, a professor with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Fire ants are most active in warm weather. Fire ant season can last 10 to 11 months out of the year in the most southern areas of Georgia.

Controlling ant colonies before they produce a mound is important. However, Hudson says that once a treatment program is in effect, timing is not all that important.

Baits and sprays

The general rule of thumb is if the area is one acre or less, don't use baits. Re-infestation is more likely from colonies outside of the yard when baits are used.

One important thing to remember is the difference between 'no mounds' and 'no ants.'

"There is a difference between eliminating ants and controlling them," he said. "Baits do not eliminate ants because there is no residual control. A new colony can still come in and be unaffected by the bait laid down prior to their arrival."

To eliminate mounds completely, apply baits every six months, Hudson said. "There will be invasion in the meantime, and you will still have fire ants, just not enough to create a new mound," he said.

The least effective treatment option for most people is individual mound treatments, according to Hudson.

Treating mounds in general is going to be an exercise of frustration, and killing an entire colony by treating just the mound is a challenge, he said.

Hudson recommends treating lawns with a registered insecticide in a liquid solution. Use a hose-end sprayer for good coverage. This should rid the lawn of fire ants for one to three months.

If you choose a granular product, measure carefully to be sure you apply the correct amount of material and get good, even coverage, he said.
Minimal impact

Baits are considered to have minimal environmental effects for those who chose not to use hazardous chemicals. Once the bait is out, there is hardly anytime for anything to come in contact with it before the ants get to it.

Other nonchemical options include using steam or boiling water.

"We recommend using boiling water to treat a mound near an area such as a well where you do not want any chemicals," Hudson said. "Using hot water is very effective, but the problem is you are not always able to boil the water right next to the area you want treated."

Carrying the boiling water can inflict serious burns, so extreme caution should be used when treating with this method.

There are products on the market that are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and labeled as organic. Hudson says organic designation is a "slippery" definition. There is an official USDA certification and many states have their own set of regulations when labeling a product as organic. This labeling can mean the product is either a natural product or derived from a natural product.

"While there are a few products that qualify as organic, with most baits the actual amount of pesticide applied is minimal," he said.

Realistic expectations

Hudson says to be careful when choosing a product because the labels can be confusing, even deceptive, and it is difficult to make the right choice. For assistance in selecting a product, contact a pest-control professional or your local UGA Cooperative Extension agent.

"The most important thing to remember is that you need to be realistic in your expectations," Hudson said. "If you are treating mounds, you need to be prepared. You are going to chase the mounds around the yard."

By Sarah Lewis (Sarah Lewis is a student writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Visit for more educational articles and information.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

25th Annual Southern Gardening Symposium at Callaway Gardens Jan 28 - 30, 2011

Early-Bird Discounts for Registration and Room through October 31, 2010

Get some inspiration for next season’s “dream garden” at the 25th annual Southern Gardening Symposium, one of the nation’s premier gardening events at beautiful Callaway Gardens®.

Make your plans to attend this January 28-30 symposium where you can listen and learn about gardening from an outstanding group of experts. Designed for novice to expert gardeners, this jam-packed schedule includes lectures, presentations and demonstrations. Though content-rich, this event provides the unique opportunity for personal interaction with the speakers throughout the weekend. Some of the outstanding speakers slated for the 2011 SGS include Michael Dirr, legendary horticulturist and hydrangea expert will speak on "Thirty years of gardening in Georgia: The great woody shrubs and trees that have successfully traveled the garden path and those yet to come"; Kari Whitley, with Scout Horticultural Consulting, will speak about the Southern garden; Erin Weston will present “My Path to the Winter Garden”; Joe Lamp’l, a.k.a. “Joe the Gardener”; Bobby Green, owner of Green Nurseries in Fairhope, AL, will discuss new and unusual camellias; and Rick Darke, photographer, lecturer, consultant and author of The Wild Garden: Expanded Edition, will lecture on “The New Wild Garden: Dynamic, Livable, Ecological.”

In addition to these presentations, guests can indulge their passion at the SGS Marketplace offering one-stop shopping for the gardener. You’ll find an assortment of choice plants, many of which are touted by Symposium speakers as the new “must-haves”; a superb book selection including new releases by SGS speakers; and a delightful array of garden ornaments. Garden Delights, top supplier of native azaleas in the U.S., will be offering a selection of southern classic plants. Rocky Branch Garden Center will be selling plants highlighted by SGS speakers. Blooming Idiot will offer a wide selection of herbs, annuals and perennials. Garden Solutions will be selling special seasonal plants. Petals from the Past will have heirloom varieties of favorite fruit trees and flowers as well as the specialty camellias as discussed by Bobby Green.

SGS participants will have an exciting opportunity to participate in both silent and live auctions. The auction items include books and plants recommended by speakers; garden ornaments; botanical artwork by the late-Athos Menaboni; special plants provided by Callaway Gardens’ horticulture department, Hills & Dales Estate and Auburn University; items contributed by Marketplace vendors; and much more.

Preregistration for SGS is required by Friday, January 21, 2011. The program registration fee of $245 includes Friday’s opening reception; Saturday’s continental breakfast, programs with printed materials, box lunch and evening banquet; and Sunday’s continental breakfast and programs with printed materials.

The Southern Gardening Symposium is approved for seven contact hours for Georgia Certified Landscape Professional Continuing Education Units.

Callaway Gardens provides a variety of lodging options for SGS participants. The special rate of $79 per room per night is available in the Mountain Creek Inn® (based on double occupancy). This rate includes admission to Callaway Gardens per night of stay and day of departure. Nestled in the trees, the spacious Cottages and Villas are available for the choosing. Those looking to pamper themselves will love the luxury Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens.

Early–bird Specials! There are two great offers for those who register by October 31st, 2010:

1) Registration: Receive $25 off the program registration fee.

2) Lodging: Receive the second night FREE when reserving the special SGS lodging rate of $125* per room in Mountain Creek® Inn.

For further information about SGS or to request a brochure, contact the Education Department at 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292), 706-663-5153 or

Callaway Gardens®, is in Pine Mountain, Ga., 60 minutes southwest of Atlanta and 30 minutes north of Columbus. For additional information, call 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292) or visit

*The above room rates are available only to registered SGS participants. Valid for Mountain Creek® Inn only and based on availability and double occupancy. Some restrictions apply. Symposium registration fee is separate.

About Callaway Gardens

For almost 60 years Callaway Gardens has provided “a place of relaxation, inspiration and a better understanding of the living world” for millions of visitors. Owned and operated by the non-profit Ida Cason Callaway Foundation, Callaway Gardens includes a garden, resort, preserve and residential community on 13,000 acres in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Highlights include a butterfly conservatory, horticultural center, discovery center, chapel, inland beach, nature trails and special events throughout the year.

In addition, Callaway Gardens offers nearly 100,000 square feet of meeting space, 923 guest rooms, restaurants, a full-service spa, shops, golf, tennis, fishing and more.

Five unique, close-knit residential communities with custom home sites, lakefront properties and cottages on the golf course –offer an ideal home away from home or full-time residence.

Callaway Gardens is home to a 4,610-acre forest preserve, which is under conservation easement. This conserved, sustainably-managed land is used for biological studies and environmental education programs.

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