The Museum of Novel Fire Ant Control Methods and Products; yes, it’s a thing

Published 8:58 am Friday, February 21, 2020

From what I’ve read the Imported Red Fire Ant species got to my hometown about the same time I did. And fire ants are not going to be gone from Baton Rouge or Bovina when I am.

Ants are just a fact of life and there is no simple surefire ant solution. However, there is such a thing as the Museum of Novel Fire Ant Control Methods and Products. I just can’t find out if it is a true physical facility or merely cyber located.

It is not definite as to what entity is its founder and curator, but I’m thinking folks at Texas A&M. Hopefully, some readers will Google it and read about the creative failed attempts to control fire ants. Several of the museum’s collection come with YouTube verification. Some devices were even patented or their name trademarked.

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The McCoy Ant Stomper was a knee-high windmill first developed at Lubbock for another ant species but advertised for fire ants in the late 1970s. As the propeller turned it powered a tiny roller that was to run over worker ants as they emerged from the mound.

The Anster from the 1980s was a wheeled walk-behind gizmo powered by a lawnmower engine. A person pushed it and stopped it centered over an ant mound where its spinning tines ground up the mound.

The Queen Smasher came from Alabama. It was simply a square iron weight with a vertical rod and a crosspiece handle. The operator merely repeatedly beat down on a mound with the patent-applied-for smasher.

There have been numerous rigs created to pull behind a tractor or vehicle that inject steam into ant mounds, one mound at a time. I recall once years ago we let a guy demonstrate such an invention at the annual garden field day at Crystal Springs.

We had a lot of interested spectators follow his large propane tank on wheels mound destroyer, but everybody was told to stand back, way back.

Quite a few ant killer theories involved ways to inject liquid nitrogen into ant mounds, but nobody has come up with a cost-effective and safe way to make it work.

Be it steam or liquid nitrogen, I don’t think any method requiring pricy equipment and operators for hire is a go for front and back yards. Undetected new colonies would be tunneling below ground while the rig is being driven away down the street.

Both the YaardVark and the Electric Anteater claimed to electrocute fire ants.

For a renewable energy solution, there was the Solar Ant Charmer. And even though expensive plug-in devices that allegedly ran moles out of the yard by vibrations never worked, along came the $700 Electrocat designed to vibrate ants away from up to an acre.

One museum piece that evidently does work is the Ant-free Pet Bowl.

It is double-walled with the outside wall off the ground. Ants crawl up the inner wall and supposedly get frustrated with the U-turn at the top and just give up on dog food for today.


Terry Rector writes for the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District.