Saturday, May 17, 2014

Update on Spraying Sugar on Pasture

For some reason it looks like my previous post about Spraying Sugar on Pastures, etc. has had almost twice as many views as anything else I've posted (at this point in time it has reached an astronomical number of views that is somewhere in the mid-twenties). 

So, I think it's about time for an update on whether or not spraying a sugar solution on a pasture will indeed grow more grass while also killing the ants in that pasture.  My conclusion so far is that it won't control ants at all (I'm not convinced on the growing more grass part either).  When I looked at the anthills in the area I sprayed, I didn't notice any reduction at all in the number of ants.  Not one to give up unless the going gets too hard, I decided to see if a higher concentration of sugar might work, so I poured about 1 cup of sugar on a single anthill. 

Checking back a couple of days later, I still saw a lot of ants going about their ant business (as active as they looked, ant business must be good, and the rat race is a cakewalk compared to the ant race). 

So I went back to the ether of the online world and found something that suggested using Borax on ants in the house.  I just happened to have a box of Borax (not sure what I had it for, I'll remember what it was for as soon as I pour the last of it on some ants) so I sprinkled it liberally on top of the sugar that I'd poured out on the anthill. 

Just throw some out there and mix it up a little with your foot

My ant killing pessimism was pretty high at this point, but a day later it looked like only two lethargic ants had managed to drag themselves to work and the ant business that had been booming the previous day had busted overnight.  

So my entirely unscientific conclusion is that "maybe" it is possible to kill ants with Borax, or a combination of sugar and Borax.  Of course, now I have to figure out if Borax is any better or worse for cattle than if I just used ordinary ant-killer products in a pasture.


  1. When you posted about your spraying, I had just seen swarms of ants eating away at my rhubarb. I opted for non-intervention to see what would happen. They were eating the leaves, and especially chewing a forming seed head to pieces. I figured that rhubarb just might not be meant to grow here... although the foliage on the thing was doing great this year, up to that point.

    A few days ago, I stopped by to see how things were doing, and was surprised to see hardly any ants, and the plant looking like it made a full recovery and then some.

    It made me think about a PBS program I watched about how plants defend themselves. It makes me think that maybe the sap is sweet to begin with, but turns toxic or bitter for the ants once the plant responds to being attacked.

    Interesting stuff... it's a war out there...

    1. The way I understand it, when plants have higher Brix Levels (higher sugar levels in the plant tissue) they are healthier and more resistant to disease or insect damage (or maybe they are able to recover quicker).

      How to get those higher Brix Levels is the puzzler. A combination of applying compost, increasing the amount of microbial activity in the soil, growing cover crops or green manure crops, higher organic matter levels, livestock grazing, etc. seems to be the main way to do it.

      It's both simple and complicated at the same time. Add in the fact that sometimes you do need to intervene and other times you don't, and it's even more of a conundrum.

  2. Good luck with the Borax. I've used that before and I've only slowed them down but never got them to leave. I think they laughed and gave me the middle leg salute! I tried so many chemicals and potions that I found online to kill the ants that I killed all the grass in my lawn around the anthill while is still thrived. The only solution I could find was a pest control place which charged me $50 to pump their non-civilian use chemicals onto the anthills and then broadcast a lighter dose stuff around the perimeter of my house to keep them out. That worked like a champ and once gone, they were gone for several years before I had to repeat it again. I asked the fellow once what he used but he wouldn't tell me and I really didn't blame him since that was his income source.

    1. I just wish you had wished me luck a little sooner, maybe that little bit of luckiness would have been the little bit extra I needed to make it actually work.