Texas Two-Step

No, I’m not talking about dancing. I’ll be heading to Texas soon and as an organic gardener, folks are warning me about fire ants. More worrisome are the claims that chemical poisons are the only way to kill, deter, get rid of the stinging interlopers.

Preliminary research is turning up something called the Texas Two-Step method pioneered at Texas A&M and this method can be used with either chemical toxins or more organic materials offered for sale by companies that sell organic gardening products.

Does anyone have any experience with these methods?

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5 thoughts on “Texas Two-Step

  1. Hi Tony! I’m a gardening UU in Tyler (100 mi east of Southlake, part of the north TX UU cluster) and I started reading your blog a few days ago when someone from NTAUUS shared the link.

    Over here in the Piney Woods, we have different dirt but the same ants. I don’t have huge populations of fire ants but have had success with Amdro and an orange-oil drench. (I use Garden-Ville or Medina orange oil and mix it myself.) For the few mounds I deal with, which aren’t in especially intrusive spots, I hit them with Amdro when they appear in spring, then soak a couple of times during the summer. Haven’t tried the boiling water approach because the ants favor a spot right between some lavender and a sedum I intend to keep.

    Welcome to Texas and happy gardening! You’re in for a whole new set of challenges, but you’ll never lack for sun. 🙂

  2. Yup. A&M is *the* go-to for anything agricultural. I hadn’t actually heard it *called* the “two-step”, but the process is what all of us know as the only way to get the beasties out of your yard… a blanket treatment and then mound assaults as they crop up.

    Most of us that have been living with them for the bulk of our lives have given up the organic assault, and have gone to the most offensive weapons available to us. We’ll try organics for cutworms, beetles, mosquitos and darned near anything else, but those damned fire ants – we’d sarin or napalm the suckers if we could. 😀

    Perhaps a fresh approach from someone not hardened by decades of battle is what’s needed. 😉

  3. Hi! I’ve been following your blog since your guest service at Horizon. Welcome to Texas! I have used beneficial nematodes to treat fire ants since I moved to Texas. Foreman’s in Colleyville stocks them (as well as many other organic gardening alternatives).

  4. Thanks, Caleb. I will definitely try the beneficial. And I think I almost, kinda sorta know where Colleyville is now in relation to the church. Hopefully I won’t get too hardened by the battle with the new difficulties to gardening. Now to make sure we can get a place with enough land to garden. So many house lots are just barely big enough for the house.

  5. Well, after my 2 y.o. Abigail stepped in a pile recently and ended up with numerous bites on her poor feet and then was up every night for a week begging for more itch cream, I decided I didn’t care what method I used to kill ants. You don’t have to worry too bad about them. They’re a nuisance for sure but they won’t eat your garden. And the do aerate the soil, what with all the tunnels and all. And they prey on termites.

    For ANY info on Texas organic gardening, read anything by Howard Garrett. He also has a forum on his web site. I think it’s dirtdoctor.com. His books are the best and every library around here has them all. He recommends molasses for killing ants.

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