Entomology and Plant Pathology

Extension Goals in Oklahoma

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Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service personnel have made tremendous strides in the past few years toward increasing knowledge of fire ants and how to best deal with them. Educational efforts have reached numerous pest control professionals, city personnel from all over southern Oklahoma, golf course superintendents, military personnel, homeowners, and farmers. In addition to providing educational materials and educating people about the general biology of the ants, we are stressing three major aspects of proper control:


1. Reading the label. Insecticide labels provide important information about timing of application, proper rate of application, and the steps to take for best results. Granular insecticides used for individual mound treatments will have information on whether to water the product in or not, while dusts may stress the importance of uniform coverage of mounds. Extension personnel have encountered many situations where control failures were due to not following label instructions properly. Reading and interpreting labels is an integral part of our educational programs.


2. Monitoring for activity before treatment. We are intent on getting people in Oklahoma to demand the most bang for their buck when treating for fire ants. When using baits, homeowners and professionals can be certain that ants are active by placing an attractive substance (peanut butter, greasy potato chips, hotdog slices) out on the ground in the area to be treated and checking for activity. If ants discover and forage on the material within 20-30 minutes, it's time to bait. We are convincing people that by spending a couple of extra minutes they can insure that their money is well spent.


3. Reducing insecticide use. By relying on bait technology, homeowners and pest control professionals can cut the amount of active ingredient they apply to an area by several times. Extension personnel have assisted military personnel in Oklahoma in meeting IPM mandates, by switching from the "hunt and peck" method of treating mounds as they appear in a large area to baiting the area, resulting in less expense, greater levels of control, and less pesticide usage.    


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