Tuesday, February 9, 2010


By Skeeter
What does this little hill of dirt in my Georgia Garden have to do with fire you ask? Click on the below video and see what happens when I poke a stick into this hill of dirt.

If my hand were to get in the way of these things, I would be on fire! You see these are the hideous Fire Ants in the Deep South. If you have never experienced these, be lucky as they are painful little buggers! The first fire ants I ever encountered in my life were in San Antonio, Texas. I freaked when I accidentally disturbed a hill and saw them scattering about on the ground. When living in Killeen, Texas, I once again experienced them but in a more terrifying manner. I was push mowing the grass when I unknowingly ran over an Ant Hill. They were all over my feet and ankles and bit right through my socks. You talk about fire, they are true to their name Fire for sure. My ankles were swollen so large I could not get my shoes on for an entire day! The swelling went down and the poison is in my body so they no longer affect me in such a manner. I also am more aware of them and try to stay clear. We spot treated them for several years with little luck in our yard. The spot we treated would disappear then another hill would magically appear the next day within a few yards of the old hill. We finally had to resort to drastic measures. We had to use a broadcast spreader and treat the entire grassy portions of the yard. That was 2 years ago and until this past fall, we had not seen another ant hill. We will try to spot treat again to see if we can rid them without having to treat the entire yard. I don't like using any type of poison in my gardens as I fear it will harm the wildlife that surrounds me. We used a product called "Over and Out" which is very expensive but it does work for us.

Click on the video to see a Good Fire in my Georgia Garden. This is one of many small bonfire type fires we have in our backyard. I dug a pit about 3 feet deep and 4 feet in circumference. This is where we burn all the fallen debris from our woods. We are only allowed to burn from Oct 1 until May 1 each year. We only burn on days when the wind is not blowing and we keep the area clear of leaves. On this particular day, the sweet gum balls were not removed by the Saint before he started the fire.

The Saint and I argue over picking up the fallen branches from the woods. He says to leave them where they fall for a nature preserve. I say he is lazy and does not want to pick up the limbs, hee hee. Na, not really. I went to a Forest Fire Safety briefing and found out that if you remove fuel (fallen limbs) from the Forest floor, then during drought conditions when a fire could be sparked, it will not be fueled by fallen limbs. Since our house is surrounded by woods and we do get into drought conditions, I want to do my part to keep on track, therefore, we pick up and burn fallen limbs. I call this "Cheap Insurance"
Ah, another Good Fire to have around. This fire in our living room keeps us warm during those chilly nights in the house.
Now this is a Bad Fire I don't want anyone to experience! This is a picture I borrowed from the Internet to remind us of how bad fire can be. I can only imagine the horror the family calling this place home must have gone through. I hope this is one fire I never have to experience!
Why am I talking about Fires today? I had made myself a Grilled Cheese Sandwich and came back upstairs into the office to read some Garden Blogs while indulging in my yummy hot lunch. I then was put to my feet by the sound of the smoke detector buzzing. Cats were running in all directions as I ran down the stairs. I left the pan on the eye of the stove once I had turned it off. A few of the crumbs of bread put a scent into the air that the fire alarm did not like. I reset the alarm and back upstairs I went. Then I heard a beep, beep, beep. Back to the alarm I went to find a dying battery. I changed the old battery with a fresh one and back to the computer I went. We so forgot to replace the battery on New Years Day like we always do. So I am writing this post today to remind everyone to put a fresh new battery into their Smoke Alarm. 2 minutes of your time is well worth it!

As you can see, some fires are good. But not all FIRES, In the Garden...

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. Fire ants are the WORST!!! Been in a few hills myself. I had a home burn down...it is a bad fire...

  2. Skeeter,
    Enjoyed this post and learned many things about fire ants I did not know. The smoke detectors here all three went crazy all with in a day of each other amazing that batteries could be so consistant.

  3. Great reminder on fire safety and changing out the alarm batteries each year.

    We have fire ants in our area. My husband eradicated the few hills that we've seen...

    however... that is why I cannot share my divided plants with anyone and that's why I don't participate in plant swaps (only seeds to share). Fire ants got here because of plants being moved and traveling across ground.

    We are in a quarantine zone. Nurseries here require special training on the pesticides to use before shipping/transporting plants.


  4. So glad the alarm warned you! Very good advice and timely. Lots of fires in your spot. The first time I was introduced to fire ants was in Alabama. When I lived in NC they hadn't yet got them. I HAD to move from Alabama as not much gardening there due to heat, humidity and ants! We once had a fire in our house. Not a good thing. Still shudder when I think of it. Do you know the snow is coming down so beautifully right now? But what a mess outside again! And we have to go to a class today not to mention class in Nashville tonight. I sure hope the school cancels it. Urgh. Take care and don't forget those batteries. I need to go change mine now.

  5. Skeeter,

    A great reminder of fire safety and I learned more about those pesky fire ants! I am sooo glad your kitchen didn't erupt into fire! gail

  6. Thanks for the great reminder about checking our smoke alarms, Skeeter! This is a timely post, too, because it always seems that in the dead of winter there are more house fires with people using fireplaces and other supplemental heating devices.

    Those fire ants sound painful! I have anthills around two big landscaping rocks here, and whenever I weed the flowers around them in the summer, I wind up getting covered with ants. They're bad enough, but at least they don't have a bad bite like the fireants.

  7. Those nasty little buggers. When I went on vacation one year to Florida those things would give me a bite once in a while. The bites got infected and I was forever getting rid of the bites. Burn them babies. LOL!

  8. Ooh, ooh! (Raising and waving arm.) Pick me! Pick me! I know! I knew you'd be talking about fire ants. I actually really like fire... it's especially useful for keeping certain native ecosystems (like oak-hickory forests) healthy. (But of course I don't like fire ants. I once had a client who had tons of them, though no mounds. My feet (I wear sandals) were ow-y for a while!

  9. Another cloudy day in GA. Gee, where is spring General Beauregard Lee Ground Hog???

    Fire ants are indeed buggars to deal with but nothing compared to a horrible house fire. I just wanted to give a reminder of the fresh batteries as we had forgotten and we use our wood fireplace often. So get those batteries changed if old....

    Stay Warm and safe all you dealing with more snow today! Saints family is pretty much snowed in right now…

  10. Hey, thanks for reminding people of home fire safety. I've been a volunteer for the American Red Cross for years, and have seen way too many homes destroyed by fires, and families displaced. It's devastating! Simple items like alarms can help save lives and houses but only if the batteries work.

    On a sidenote, folklore says that if you have an Aloe plant in your kitchen, it will protect your home from fire. Not as effective as a smoke alarm, but it sure doesn't hurt.

  11. I'm some glad we don't have fire ants up here I've heard so much about them.
    Great reminder about the batteries, our local news reminds people to change them with daylight savings time. For new construction, they are to be hardwired into the power but still have battery back-up, I have 8 because new construction requires it on all floors and in all bedrooms. Some beep slowly , one has a hyper beep for fresh A/C! Need them because if one were to have a fire, it would be when the power was out and using candles or another kind of heater! We had a fire the other day where a 5 year old saved everyone, crawling on the floor and everything. The cause....aquarium heater.

  12. I have seen the fire ants in FL and they are terrible but nothing compares to a house fire. Next Tuesday it will be 22 years ago that my best friend called me at 3am and said her apartment was on fire. It was horrible and took a lot of work to clean everthing up. There is no way to replace all the memories that are gone. She lived in and manged a large apartment building with 16 families. Just trying to account for everone is something you could not envision unless living throu it all. My hat is off to you, Liza. We went right up and before we even got there, the Red Cross was already there. They were a real lifesaver to those 16 families. It would take me an hour to write here all that they did but let me tell you all, you have no idea just what the Red Cross does!!!! They are just amazing.

  13. I am grateful that there are NO fire ants in VA. The ticks are bad enough and I got bitten by a swarm of yellow jackets in my strawberry patch last year...but no nasty fire ants. Great post, thank you! Enjoyed it!

  14. Liza, you are a hero in my book to volunteer for the Red Cross!

    Jean, that story is so sad. With all tragedy’s I see on TV, the Red Cross is always on the scene! They are an awesome group of people…

  15. Thanks for the reminder... I think my batteries need changing.
    Fire ants scare the pants off me.
    I love Colorado, none of that crap here.


  16. Those ants are horrible! Nice video though...

  17. Hi Skeeter. Great post on fire safety in your home. That is not a situation that I care to be involved in. Scares the wits out of me.
    Fire ants is another thing that I hate. I'm allergic to insect stings & bites so I have to be careful. Can you imagine lying on the ground with a broken leg & your foot lying in an ant bed!!!!!!took months for the spots turned black to go away.Don't like that situation at all.
    Be safe everyone. Stay warm. It's rainy here so it feels cooler.

  18. Lola, Ouch, that sounds so painful. Bless your heart for having to endure such pain. Dreary here and I am so missing all the snow they are getting in TN and VA. Our family keeps sending us pics and I just think it is so beautiful. Making a mess for them though and I believe they are tired of seeing the white fluff. Schools closed, government closed, I guess I should not complain about the soggy conditions in my back yard…

  19. I've only heard of fire ants, just seeing them crawling around made me cringe. I hope you can get rid of them.
    I forgot to change our batteries on the last time change, great reminder!

  20. Red Imported Fire Ants are hideous. I hate them with a fiery passion.

  21. You have been collecting memories and experiences around the world, i envy you. But the fire ants i don't, and the fires i dont envy also. I know from environmental science and ecology classes that fires are needed also by some trees to propagate, but of course its disadvantages are more for animals and us humans. Is it not possible for your property to just make pits to compost the leaves rather than burning them. Burning contributes further to our contributing bad gasses in the atmosphere and global warming! The US is the main contributor for it, followed by China, so maybe the citizens in small deeds can individually contribute to lessen that impact. Thank you and God bless.

  22. Remember fire ants when I was a kid. Don't see them here...thank you very much.
    We too change all our batteries in January.

  23. I hate them buggers! They do nasty things to my plants - herd aphids and mealy bugs, eat some buds and flowers, and bite us badly!
    I'll have to constantly fight them every day with renewed weapons! Phew! If there were no Fire Ants, half of the problems that my plants face would vanish!
    Have a nice day :)!

  24. A couple of years ago there was talk that fire ants may have been accidentally introduced to our area of Victoria Australia. After reading this I am very happy that this seems to have been a false alarm!

  25. Hope you have no further problems with fire ants...or ants of any kind;-) I have had some mounds of big black ants (carpenter?) in my front yard, and experienced being bitten while walking in the garden area, BUT I don't think they were fire ants. I did put out some actual baits in my garden to help control the problem and it helped. I think it's eliminated in that particular area, although they've probably moved around the yard to inhabit another section!

  26. Andrea, We do not burn leaves in our yard. We only burn the fallen large limbs from our woods. Leaves we use in natural areas of the landscaping.