Ask Burton: Q: When preparing to plant onions in my garden, I noticed a lot of fire ant mounds. I don’t want ant bites, and don’t want them to hurt my onions? How can I get rid of them without using pesticides?

A: I’ve had the occasional mound of fire ants in my onion patches and there’s never much of a noticeable effect, but fire ants are not loved by anyone. Here’s how to knock their populations down without much work so that you don’t get ant bites while planting.

An excellent and fast organic control for fire ants is the application of orange oil! Mix a couple of ounces of orange oil and a couple of ounces of dish detergent with a gallon of water, and pour to drench individual mounds thoroughly. Water thoroughly the next day and you’ll be ready to plant without so many fire ant friends to share your time in the garden.

Fertilome Come & Get It Fire Ant Killer is organic and Kills the Queen & the Mound. It contains a bait that attracts foraging fire ants and is taken back into the mound as food for the colony.

Molasses also works well mixed into this drench, if you want to culture your soil while you’re drenching things (but it has little or no insecticidal effect).

To learn more about organic gardening, come to our free class on Maintaining an Organic Yard Saturday,  January, 21  1:00 PM – 2:00 PM .