Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Big Bird, Ailing Lantana, Garden Ants, & Late Garlic


Pileated woodpecker, a large native bird. Photo: Eric French

Big Bird

Landscapes can be habitat for wildlife, especially birds. For some gardeners, birdwatching is part of the garden experience. Eric sent a picture of a bird and asked for its name.

Dr. Keith Arnold, a PhD graduate of LSU, wrote this narrative about the pileated woodpecker on the Texas Agrilife website, “The “log-god,” …“woodchuck” or “cock-of-the-woods,” is more formally called Pileated Woodpecker and is familiar to hunters, anglers and people that roam the woods…. It has one of the loudest and most distinctive bird voices of the eastern forests. The loud “kuk-kuk–kukkuk-kuk-kuk calls and drumming can frequently be heard during spring and summer near their nesting territories. This crow-sized woodpecker is a permanent resident of mature, dense forests…. It primarily occurs in eastern and northwestern United States and southern Canada….


Bandana lantana. Photo: LSU AgCenter.

Ailing Lantana

Judy from Jena asked about a landscape plant, “In a discussion at one of our [ gardening] meetings… we talked about a virus or disease that was killing a lot of lantanas. Do you remember what it was and if there was a treatment?”

AHA looked up the diseases that may be attacking lantanas. Lantana has only few diseases, and those diseases result from excessive rain. Drought stress seems to be the probable cause of lantana mortality, and this circumstance is true for many plants.


Red imported fire ant. Photo: USDA,

Garden Ants

Lori is struggling with ants in her garden, “I am having a problem with ants in my vegetable garden. Until recently I rarely saw an ant in my garden. I have several wooden raised beds that are 2 years old that I have used mainly for growing vegetables. The raised beds have paths around them made with small river pebbles. The ants are traveling around the wood bed frame and in the soil too. They are also in the pebbles.

I have read about treating the nest by plugging it with cinnamon or diatomaceous earth but that requires locating the nest. I have tried to follow the ants to find a nest but no luck.

How do I eradicate these ants when I cannot find the nest? I want to be able to prepare my beds to plant a few fall crops before it is too late.”

Before Dan Gill retired from his horticulture job with the AgCenter, he shared some treatment about this similar problem that Lori has.

Here is a summary of the treatment options:

  • Boiling water: slowly pour about one-half to one gallon of boiling water into each mound.
  • Granular bait products:
    • carbaryl (Sevin®) or
    • carbaryl plus metaldehyde
  • Fire ant baits with organic active ingredient spinosad:
    • Ferti-lome Come and Get It®.
      • Green Light Fire Ant Control®
  • Liquid applications (drenches) of botanical insecticides:
    • Citrex™.
    • Insecto® Formula 7,
    • Organic Solutions™ Multipurpose Fire Ant Killer.
    • Organic Plus® Fire Ant Killer.


Garlic bulbs. Photo: LSU AgCenter

Late Garlic

Kevie of Boyce wants to recover from a gardening error, “I left my garlic in the ground too long. It is not edible, but can I still use it for planting for next year.”

Dr. Kiki Fontenot, AgCenter’s Vegetable Specialist, shared an encouraging note about Kevie’s garlic, “Yes, this older garlic can be divided and replanted. I like getting it into the ground Sept through early October.”

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits, and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337.284.5188 or

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

8/30/2022 7:52:26 PM
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