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How can I get rid of ants and weedy spurges?

Author: Kelly Young
Issue: August, 2017, Page 107
Weedy spurges
ASK THE EXPERTS

Q - I was pulling spurge weed in my yard and was bitten by dozens of ants, which surged out of the ground near the roots and attacked. How can I get rid of the ants and feel safe in my yard again?

A - Weedy spurges (Euphorbia spp.) are problematic, during the warm season in Central and Southern Arizona. Fast-growing, these weeds produce hundreds of tiny seeds that are easy to inadvertently spread throughout the landscape. The ants that stung you (they don’t really bite, except to hold on while they viciously sting) were guarding the spurge as their food source. Nectar produced near the tiny flowers is payment to the ants for protection against predators such as you. Reducing the number of spurge plants in your yard will reduce the number of ants. Wear protective gloves and remain vigilant while you pull existing weeds. Dispose of them in the trash, and follow up with an application of pre-emergence herbicide such as Tupersan to prevent new weeds from growing.
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