Tag Archives: ants

Did You Know?—Controlling ants, snails, slugs, and gnats

Did you know?

When my wise old grandmother got sick the first time and had to spend some time in the hospital, she thought she was going to die. She was making peace with everyone and asked me if I had anything on my mind. I did. I wanted to know why she never had problems with ants, snails, and slugs in her garden. Her answer was mulch. Very fine mulch. I use Earthgro Decorative  Groundcover Bark:

Earthgro decorative groundcover bark

Note that the description says, “A very fine-textured mulch.” This stuff also comes in larger sizes. Don’t use them for ant/snail/slug prevention purposes. Only the very fine-textured stuff. Ants don’t like crawling around on this stuff and will make a trail around it. I use it to keep ants in the garden and out of my house. Snails and slugs don’t like it because the stuff cuts their little tummies.

A problem that I always have had with my interior plants is a problem that I did not ask my wise old grandmother about. Gnats. She had so many plants inside yet never had a problem with gnats. A couple of days ago I found out why I have such a problem with gnats. Mulch & Sphagnum moss.

I don’t like the appearance of bare soil in my planters inside so I have always put mulch and sphagnum moss on the top of the soil. Wrong thing to do. Gnats love to get between the soil and the mulch or moss and set up little communities. I think the only creature that breeds more than rabbits is the gnat.

I now have experiential evidence that mulch and moss, indeed, were the culprits. My planters that had mulch and moss were full of gnats. The planters that I recently had planted flora in and had only bare soil did not. But bare soil inside still looks bad. Enter decorative pebbles and rocks, what the cactus & succulent society calls “top dressing.” Turns out that the little gnats can’t get between the heavy pebbles and rocks to set up little communities beneath them.

After dealing with hundreds of gnats each day after moving into our new home, on Friday I replaced all the mulch and moss in all my interior planters with decorative pebbles and rocks. Here are a few pictures:

Top dressing

Top dressing

Top dressing

Top dressing

Top dressing

Top dressing

The result? One gnat, and that was about 9:00 Saturday morning. The average lifespan of a gnat is seven days, and the maximum lifespan thirty days. I used insecticidal soap on the top of the soil before apply the top dressing, so between that and the top dressing, I’m not expecting to see any more gnats in our home. Yahoooooooooooooooo!

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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The first I’ve seen in 21½ years in San Diego

Picture of the Moment

As much as I love wildlife of all kinds, one of the things that I really disliked about my native home state of Texas was the number of bugs.

You DID NOT want to go outside at night because you would have to turn an outdoor light on, and that meant you would be walking out into billions and billions and billions of flying bugs.

I know we have nighttime flying bugs here in San Diego, but I think they go to sleep at night just like I do.

And ants! I hated ants. Especially fire ants. I remember one time when I went with a friend to Lake Houston to go sailing on his brand new sailboat. Out in the middle of the lake we jumped in to go swimming….. right into a bunch of fire ants! IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LAKE! That day ruined me forever on going sailing and going to Lake Houston.

The last time I saw an ant colony here in San Diego was July 6, 2009. You’re laughing, aren’t you? You think me knowing the date is funny. I know the date because I took a picture, and the metadata tells me that I took it on July 6, 2009. Now you’re laughing because I took a picture….

Ants

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Should I talk about roaches? Ack! When I moved to Houston in 1977 after graduating from Texas A&M University, my first apartment was next to a bayou. Add in lots of palm trees, and it was roach city. My roommates and I used to cook greasy food each night, collecting the grease in bowls and cans to spread around the apartment. Then and only then could we get a good night’s sleep because the roaches would go after the grease, climb in the bowl, get stuck and drown. The next morning, those bowls had 20 or 30 roaches in each of them. We only stayed there three months, and those three months ruined me forever on living near lakes, rivers, streams, and palm trees in Houston.

I can count on one hand the number of roaches I have seen in 21½ years in San Diego.

Then we come to spiders. I love spiders. Except daddy longlegs. For some reason, I find daddy longlegs to be creepy. My wise old grandmother, though, taught me an appreciation for all wildlife, explaining to me the food chain, so when I find spiders inside that don’t belong inside, I shoo them back outside. Hmmm. Some day I’ll have to let Julian video me shooing a spider back outdoors. That video probably would go viral….

The spider I miss, though, is the big garden spider, the one that builds a huge, beautiful orb web at night so that when you go to get the paper in the morning, you walk into a huge web, forgetting about the paper while running yelling to the shower.

I have never seen a garden spider here in Southern California…. WAIT! I lie. I saw one in Pacific Beach last weekend! I was so excited that people were rushing over to where I was taking pictures to see what was going on. I’m pretty sure most of them all of them thought I was weird. Nonetheless….

Following is Photographic Art of my beautiful garden spider. You may tell me in a comment how beautiful it is….

Garden spider

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