Pouring club soda onto fire ant mounds, despite Internet claims that it's "an environmentally friendly cure for fire ants," won't provide control, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service entomologist in Austin.
“I’ve gotten several emails recently asking about club soda as a fire-ant-mound treatment,” says Wizzie Brown, AgriLife Extension integrated pest management program specialist in Travis County. “This message has been passed around the Internet via email, and has found its way into gardening forums and has been picked up by media – all without any scientific testing to back it up.”
The carbon dioxide in the soda is supposed to displace the oxygen and suffocate the ants, including the queen, killing the entire colony within about 48 hours, according to the email messages. They also note that club soda leaves no toxic residue, does not contaminate ground water and will not “indiscriminately” kill other insects or harm pets.
“What it doesn’t say is that the treatment is ineffective, unless you happen to drown a few fire ants in the process,” says Brown, who has tested a variety of home remedies for fire ant management over the past several years.
Brown, in fact, ran a field trial in 2009 testing the efficacy of club soda.
“Long story short, it didn't work,” she says. “Observations and statistics from the trial showed no evidence of any type of control as a result. Pouring club soda onto a fire ant mound did not lead to the ants dying a horrendous death; it did, however, produce lots of impressive bubbling action.”
Her report on the field trial will appear in a future edition of the Urban IPM Handbook, published annually on the Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Project Web site.
The site also shows results of other home-remedy field tests – including tests using molasses and aspartame – by Brown and other Texas A&M System integrated pest management experts.
The site also contains information on successful, low-impact options for fire ant management validated by scientific research, Brown adds. “Fire ant baits are still among the most effective methods of fire ant control. Besides, in larger areas, treating individual mounds is never as useful as a widespread broadcast treatment.”
For more information, contact Brown at 512-854-9600 or firstname.lastname@example.org .