Fire Ants and Club Soda – Does it work?

Fire Ants and Club Soda – Does it work?

Club soda kills fire ants? I don’t think so!

Have you received a message about fire ants being killed with club soda delivered to your email box? Or perhaps you came across it while perusing gardening forums on the Internet? It may be drafted as something like this:

“Eddie’s brother Robert Rhoades has discovered an environmentally friendly cure for fire ants that has been announced by Walter Reeves on his Georgia Gardener radio program. Testimonial that it REALLY WORKS are coming in.

Simply pour two cups of CLUB SODA (carbonated water) directly in the center of a fire ant mound. The carbon dioxide in the water is heavier than air and displaces the oxygen which suffocates the queen and the other ants. The whole colony will be dead within about two days.

Here’s the good side: club soda leaves no poisonous residue, does not contaminate the ground water, and does not indiscriminately kill other insects. Each mound must be treated individually and a one liter bottle of club soda will kill 2 to 3 mounds. Spread the word.”

This message has been passed around the Internet via email, gardening forums, picked up by media and all without any scientific testing to back it up. Since I’ve been testing a variety of home remedies for fire ant management the past several years, I decided to run a field trial in 2009 testing the efficacy of club soda as a fire ant mound treatment.

Long story short- it didn’t work. Not the field trial, it went fine, but the CLUB SODA DID NOT WORK. Let me reiterate that point because it’s VERY important….pouring club soda onto a fire ant mound did not lead to the ants dying a horrendous death; it did however produce lots of impressive bubbling action.

I’ve been getting a lot of emails in the last month because the club soda/ fire ant myth seems to be gaining popularity again. Mike Merchant has posted about this topic on his blog earlier this week and Walter Reeves has stated that he has not endorsed club soda as a sound treatment for fire ants.

Used with permission from Elizabeth Brown – Entomologist Texas Agrilife Extension Service