Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fire Ants and Club Soda - The Final Word!!?

        For several years my colleagues and I have been addressing phone calls/emails on whether or not club soda will kill fire ants.  One of the theories is that you open a bottle of club soda (no specific brand specified) turn it over and let it run into the mound.  The released CO2 is said to replace the oxygen and the ants die.  Another version just has you pour two cups of the club soda on the mound.  I of course can think of much better things to use club soda for but this was a procedure touted to control fire ants with no pesticides. 
        Walter Reeves, a retired University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service Agent, who now hosts a radio call-in show in Atlanta, GA on NewsTalk 750 WSB-AM Saturday mornings and also writes a weekly column for the Thursday Atlanta Journal-Constitution Home & Garden section has been credited with the announcement of this novel treatment back in 2007.  Supposedly Walter recommended this treatment during one of his broadcasts and from there it went viral to those who want a non-pesticide treatment for fire ant control.  Really, Walter just said that someone should try it and report back to him.  He discusses that here: Fire Ants - No control with club soda 
        Even though Walter has discounted it and Wizzie Brown, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Extension Program Specialist – IPM in Austin, has debunked this as she reported in her blog here: Club soda kills fire ants? I don't think so! on the Texas Imported Fire Ant webpage here: Club soda, maybe just the club and the actual research report here: Evaluation of club soda as a mound treatment for red imported fire ant management, the question about this procedure still comes up at times.  Several others have addressed this.  Dr. Mike Merchant, Urban Entomologist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, did a nice job discussing club soda and other questionable treatments here: Club soda for your ants, Sir? Snopes.com also discusses the "falseness" of the procedure here:  Clubbed
        During a recent trip to the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company Headquarters in Marysville, OH, to attend a meeting of many Garden Writers, Garden radio talk show hosts, and educators, I was able to meet Walter Reeves and we discussed this “club soda” phenomenon.  I want to thank The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company for inviting such a diverse group of personalities from all over the United States to discuss the lawn and garden market.  If it was not for this opportunity to meet with other “influencers” around the United States I would not have been able to meet Walter and capture the video linked to below.
        Dr. Bart Drees Professor and Extension Entomologist, Texas A&M University, who has been involved in the study of fire ants for many years met Walter during this meeting and I videoed their conversation regarding “club soda and fire ants.”  

Club Soda Does Not Kill Fire Ants Says Walter Reeves (video by Paul Nester)

        I want to thank Walter Reeves and Bart Drees for agreeing to be videoed addressing this subject.  I know the “use club soda to control fire ants” will still come up from time to time so we can add this video to the wealth of information already available debunking this issue.

For more information on fire ants and fire ant management please visit these sites:
eXtension.org/fire_ants  or
Texas A&M Fire Ant web age


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