Monday, April 14, 2008

Field trial for fire ants

Well, I'm a bit off my schedule for attempting to post each Friday. I'm not going to beat myself up too much as I was working, but fortunately, it was outside in the wonderful sunshine instead of behind my desk in a drably painted office. Speaking of which...I should paint my office a brighter color...maybe lavender.....wonder if I could get away with it?

Anyway, on Friday I drug my husband with me to set up a field trial outside the Extension office in Georgetown. It's always nice to have help when doing field work and Alan is always a big help. He's especially attentive now, sometimes to the point of being annoying, as I'm pregnant and he doesn't want me lifting heavy objects, being within 5 miles of a pesticide, etc. Not that I had plans of handling pesticide, my doctor would be very upset as I was told this was a big no-no last visit. And yes, you heard correctly, there's going to a little Brown soon to terrorize the planet...prepare yourselves!

Back to the field work....I'm expanding upon a trial that I carried out last fall testing aspartame (the artificial sweetener) for managing individual fire ant mounds. I'm sure some of you have read on the Internet or got an email saying how it was developed as an ant poison. Well, I'm now carrying out field trials to see if it actually will get rid of the little buggers. The trial from last year showed that the aspartame did nothing to kill the ants- the aspartame treated plots showed no significant difference from the control plots where no treatment was done. This year, after treating with aspartame, I watered it into the mound since some organic sites say that this stimulates the product to kill the ants. We'll see what happens.....

By the way, if you're a nerd like me or just want some very dry reading material, you can find the aspartame field trial plus all of the field trials carried out by the fire ant group here:

It's the one titled "2007 Urban IPM Handbook". It's a pdf file that's quite large so it may take some time to download.

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