Leaf Cutter Ants - How to Kill The Tropical Pest

peterchristopher's picture

I was recently asked how to kill leaf cutter ants in a way that wouldn't hurt a nearby puppy... this is what I wrote.

If you have a very serious leaf-cutter problem, you might consider mirex. It's carried into the nest by the ants and is unlikely to hurt the puppy. However, mirex is a persistent organic pollutant (it has a very long half-life) and although I used it to permanently kill some very large nests, I wouldn't have done so if it were not killing the mango trees. To apply mirex, you put it in the trail of the ants near their nest, and they will carry every last bit into their hive and then one week later they will all die.

Another choice is lorsban - I think this breaks down, but on the other hand it doesn't always kill the nest for good - they may come back after shrugging it off. I'm not sure of the "correct" procedure for this, but the way it was done by locals in Nicaragua was to dump about 2 tablespoons into the hole and then fill in the hole.

I also tried excavation, but they have many fierce soldier ants that bite so bad they draw blood; and it's hard to find the queen, which is the one you need to kill.

Smokin' em out is ineffective; drowning with water and/or dumping used motor oil also don't work.

I also tried putting a cement water moat around mango trees. This works as long as nobody steps on it (breaking it) and nobody leans any sticks or tools against it, and as long as you fill up the moats regularly.

You might think about your water source and any nearby water sources before you apply chemicals; but if there are no nearby wells and a lot of trees are in danger you might have to buy some chemicals, solve the problem once and for all.



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In my first message I said that the original Mirex was very effective but it is no longer allowed or made. My experience with the new Mirex is that the leaf cutters would not even pick it up so how effective it would be in the nest was unknown. In Honduras some people would put a lot of carbide down one hole of the nest, then squirt in lots of water. Then they would use dirt to block off the hole. Then they would make a fire at another hole. When the acyelene gas formed got lit by the fire, the tunnels of the nest would be filled with flames. If the remaining holes were then blocked with dirt the nest would sometimes be destroyed by a lack of oxygen. This always cut back nest activity but was not always effective in destroying the nest. -Roy Lent


The original Mirex was quite effective against leaf cutters but was also hurting those that worked in the factory where Mirex was made. So it has been pulled from the market. I know of nothing effective that has replaced it. Killing those ants out on the trails helps very little. The nest will soon replace them and this nest is deep underground in a heavy clay soil. Keeping them away from critical areas and plants can be done but will not solve the problem and will be a constant battle.

Buy Mires & Honduras Living Group

From an expert on the Honduras Living who lives in SPS.
"I just got another 1 lb. bag at the first ag store I went to on
Avenida Los Leones in San Pedro around where they all are. Most ag
stores should have it. 100 limps."

Group that is very good:

After you register search the group (not the web) for: Mirex

Now where do you buy Mirex in Nicaragua?

The leaf cutter ants are not

The leaf cutter ants are not that hard to get rid of if your property is not real large. I can control them quite easily on 5 hectares if they get into my fruits or vegetables. Most of my farm is coffee and usually they do not totally defoliate whole coffee trees. 1 TBSP dish soap ( I use doctor bronners liquid peppermint) and 1 tbsp Neem oil per 1/2 liter water. Spray the trails 2 times per day. I think it is actually the soap that kills them on contact. But something about the neem and /or soap sends them away to friendlier properties. Usually after 2 days they are gone.

I'll have to check that out,

I'll have to check that out, thanks so much!


Hi, often the pesticides are sold in veterinary stores in Nicaragua - doubling as ag chemical stores - maybe the same in Honduras?

Where do I get Mirex?

I live in Honduras, and I can't find ANY pesticides at all. Where would I be able to get Mirex, do you have any idea? Thanks, Leslie

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