Little Red Fire Ant Treatment

This page shows a variation on Cas Vanderwoude's method for treating the little red fire ant (LRFA) over a large area.

Big Island Growers is a family owned business with 12 acres in coffee and botanical garden in the Puna district.

About 2 years ago we got a LRFA infestation. It made coffee picking painful. We found that a mixture of 6 grams of Avant thoroughly mixed into a 2 pound jar of peanut butter was an effective bait/poison. A small dab applied with a long stick to the interior of each coffee tree kept the LRFA away for about the 3 months of the picking season.

We have about 400 palm trees of various species, and the LRFA appear to be particularly fond of palm trees. Weeding around and under them was not fun!

The dab of peanut butter and Avant on the base of each tree was only marginally effective. The little bastards seem to live up in the crown. Thus, the mega-squirt gun project.

Sprayer Design
DISCLAIMER: This project employs a used or condemned LPG/propane tank in a manner that it was not intended. Be careful! There is a lot of energy stored in in a tank of compressed air, and it can conceivably explode with serious consequences. Make sure the tank you use is in reasonably good shape. When filling the tank with compressed air make sure you are at the far end of the air hose away from the tank (like 50 feet). As Cas said to me "You are the farmer. You can do what you want".

To make up a 4 gallon batch we used:
2 gallons of water
1.5 gallons cheap vegetable oil
2 pound jar of creamy peanut butter (chunky style plugs up the works)
40 grams of xantham gum (available at Island Naturals - 1/2 pound = 226 grams $15.98 ...cheaper on EBay)
90 grams of Avant (available at BEI 18 ounce bottle = 511 grams $134.85 WOW!)
tank connections
The tank is 12" diameter by about 36" tall. Any LPG fill station will give you one. The connection on the top of the LPG tank is 3/4" N.P.T. A 1/4" air inlet and spray outlet has a pipe that goes to within an inch of the bottom of the tank. Use a funnel to fill. It may be necessary to pause to let the air escape.
mixing spraying
Add the xanthan gum to the water and stir with a paint stirrer in a 5 gallon bucket. Add the Avant, vegetable oil and peanut butter and keep stirring. If you find the mixture is too thick to go through the hose and nozzle, cut back on the gum. Fill the tank with compressed air. A 75psi fill will squirt a stream about 30 feet straight up. The air charge in the tank is ample to completly empty out the liquid so there is no need to carry a compressor and generator or go back for more air. A short squirt on each crown seems to do the trick. Four gallons goes a long way.
As of this writing it has only been almost 5 months since we sprayed. We are just seeing the first signs of LRFA reinfestation!