Learn to live with ants and hogs

Published 1:16 am Sunday, January 17, 2010

All of us living in the Miss-Lou are blessed to have the diverse ecosystem we call home.

The diversity we have allows us to enjoy every aspect of the outdoors. The Miss-Lou offers opportunities for everything from wildlife reserves and refuges to our own backyards in the city.

With our citizens, climate, history, traditions and culture our area is a blessing to call home.

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However, while speaking of the wonderful outdoors we do have to acknowledge a few negatives. Today I want to address two issues that will likely never go away, fire ants and wild hogs.

Q: What can we do to get rid of wild pigs at our hunting camp?

A: Before I start answering this question let me remind everyone of an upcoming event. We will host a wild hog seminar at 6 p.m. this Thursday, at the Adams County Extension Office.

We will have state biologist and wildlife agents on hand to discuss everything from biology and diseases to controls and damage identification.

We have had a surge in the wild hog population over the last year. We have received reports from hunting camps, landowners and farmers about damage losses. One reason wild hogs are becoming more prevalent is their biology. They have shorter gestation periods and larger litter sizes than any large game species in the area.

A great concern for hunters is they compete directly for food with many game animals including deer, turkeys, and squirrels. As omnivores they eat both meat and vegetation. Therefore, they also target the nesting spots of reptiles, ground nesting birds, and deer (fawns). If these sources are limited they eat most any agricultural crops including young trees and seedling.

This has caused significant damage in the southeast with regenerating pine plantations. The rooting behavior of hogs in search for food can lead to major economic losses in the form of erosion, destruction of trails and roads, and damage to recreational areas. Wild hogs also serve as a host for many diseases and parasites including pseudorabies, brucellosis, tuberculosis and salmonellosis to name a few. I strongly encourage landowners and hunters to call our office to reserve a spot and attend this meeting.

Q: Is there any new advanced on fire ant control?

A: I have some breaking news that will make many of you jump for joy. The first report of organic fire ant control is in from the University of Georgia. Walter Reeves from the agriculture department at UG has found compelling evidence that using club soda provides effective control over fire ants. That’s right club soda! Evidence shows that using two cups of club soda poured directly in the center of the mound has a unique effect. The carbon dioxide in the water is heavier and denser than the air therefore it displaces the oxygen in the mound thus suffocating the queen and other ants leaving the colony destroyed and deceased in two to three days. For the organic gardeners this is popular because it leaves no residue, no ground water contamination, only kills the targeted insect, and soaks into the ground with no harm to pets or people.

Now, like many of you reading this, I am always skeptical of these reports, but before I dismiss this one even I will give it a try. Reports are already coming in glorifying its success, so go ahead and give it a shot this spring once they start to invade your yard.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extension Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201.