Ok, so you are wondering how in the world you organically treat red ants with sugar and grits? A friend of ours has an International TV Gardening show and is a Horticulturist. He is the one who gave us this wonderful solution after we were concerned about our little dog getting bit by the many, many red ant piles in our yard. We were also concerned about pestisides and didn't want him injesting these poisons.
Florida is notorious for red ants and is one reason I can honestly say I have never laid under a tree in the grass here - and I was born here.
The solution is simple and safe for your pets too, since no chemicals are used. Just take an equal part of dry grits and regular white sugar - mix the two together. Now, depending on how many ant mounds you wish to treat, this will determine how much of this dry mixture you will need. Sprinkle the mixture all over the ant piles and if it does rain, re-treat the piles after the rain. Some people say to put the mixture around the outside of the mound, but my husband just puts it on top. Yes, it disturbs the ants but it also attracts them to pick up the granuals. Normally the process of killing the red ants takes 1-3 days, depending on how large the pile is. What happens is that the ants are attracted by the granular sugar and will automatically pick up a grain of sugar and then another ant will pick up a grain of grits. The ant colony takes each of these grains back to the Queen Red Ant and regardless if she eats the sugar granular or not, she will eventually eat the grit. Upon eating the grit, it will expand upon consumption and literally explode, killing the Queen Red Ant. Once the Queen is dead, the ant colony will also do the same and then you will notice your red ant pile going from freshly turned up soil and dirt, to a pile of dry dirt. An ant colony thrives on the Queen ant being there. Once she is dead, there is not much reason for them to remain. Yes, some may actually leave but we've seen the majority of them dead within the pile.
I have seen some claim this doesn't work and that the ants just move locations. But regardless if the Queen and fellow ants really do explode or just die, we can attest that the ant piles disappear. The moisture is no longer there and the pile just caves in because the ants are dead. Yes, we have seen evidence of the dead ants. Now that summer is on its way, when I can get some pictures of this, I will definitely be uploading them. I also hope to get a video that shows the reactions.
I would not say this process is the only way to treat red ants because you can always revert to pestisides, but we need to be careful of our dog and the many other animals that come through our yard. And red ant bites are very painful. Many people are allergic to the poisons the ants themselves carry. So we prefer to use this method and it works for us. Being a victim of red ant bites - you never get just one bite either.
Apparently this also works on other ants and some people use cornmeal instead of grits.
And THANKS to our friend Tim Alan from Eye On Gardening for this safe tip.
Update On May 04, 2010: With summer pretty much here in SW Florida, the ants are abundantly taking over. I really don't like red ants and they seem to be so hard to get rid of. My husband will be lacing our yard with this mixture starting this weekend. Looking forward to hearing how it works for you? Remember, it's just an equal mix of both and stirred. Sprinkle around the edge of the mound. They'll still take all of the grains to the Queen. My husband however says he puts it all over the mound and it still works for him.