I’ve had several calls and comments this week about fire ants and aphids. I’ve also been hearing that indoor/outdoor pets are being consumed by fleas and ticks.

I have two recommendations for any hard-bodied insect (ants, fleas, ticks, roaches): diatomaceous earth (DE) and beneficial nematodes. DE is the ground up remains of tiny crustaceans. When a hard-bodied insect walks through the dust, it is cut as if it had walked through shards of glass. Beneficial nematodes are microscopic worms that attack all of the above mentioned bugs plus grubs. Sounds cruel, yes, but if you had 48 ant bites at one time it is a no-brainer that those little critters must go.

I sprinkle DE around the outside of the house and through the entire yard. DE can also be dusted lightly on your pets, be sure not to get it in their face or in yours as it can possibly cause problems for folks with asthma. It can also be added to pet food. Read the label for weight requirements. I take a teaspoon in water weekly to help clean out my internal system.

I will forever sing the praises of beneficial nematodes for clearing out 2,000-square-feet of fire-ant riddled gardening space in a week. You can still put them out this time of year with care. They need moisture to get in the ground, so put them out very early in the morning or late at night. Saturate the area with water before putting them out and then again after.

For aphids I use garlic pepper tea, weekly if needed. Again, this time of year I encourage folks to put it out after the sun has gone down.

Fifty-three days and counting until the first day of Fall 2012! We’ve had a rough week for the heat, but hey, we will cool down to the 100s in a few days. Hang in there little campers!