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Published Friday, June 4, 2021

By Victoria Torley

Right now, I am looking at my ylang-ylang tree as I type. If you don’t know the tree, the flowers produce an essence that is used in Chanel #5 perfume. I love that fragrance. When the ylang is in bloom, it can fill a vast area with scent.

A neighbor bought the tree for us, and we had a friendly competition about the relative growth of our trees from saplings upwards, each of us claiming that the tree in our respective yards was taller and more beautiful. At the moment, his tree would win.

There is nothing like returning from a vacation to find that the leaf-cutter ants have stripped a thirty-foot tree to bare branches. Not that Armando didn’t try. He tracked the little monsters repeatedly, but we had had a ‘bloom’ of leaf-cutting ants on our property and a couple of properties across the street where he had little access. Access aside, he did go over and look, but the mounds were more than four feet tall. Mounds, plural. As I said, a ‘bloom’ of cutter ants.

We all struggle with them except where concrete and asphalt have consumed large areas, and people are wary and alert to little mounds. Out here in the countryside, things are a bit more complicated. Do you have to track down the owner of the property 500 feet away and ask if you can kill ants? Do you even know who owns the property?  What a headache!

Anyway, I’ve talked about Myrex and Omitox, and they are good when put on trails. Both kill the fungus the ants eat, and that will wipe out a nest. They’re good, but I found something better. It’s called Trompa, and you can get it at a vet supply or an agro-colono and probably at a megastore here and there. Why do I like it? You can put it on a trail or if you know where the nest is- and we do – you can pour as much as you think it takes right down the main entrance. Try that with the other products, and the ants treat the grains as detritus – they grab it in greedy jaws and take  it out of the nest! You don’t want that, trust me. I don’t know how Trompa developed a product that ants will tolerate as it cascades down the tunnel, but they do.

At first, we thought that Trompa would only work when directly poured into the nest. Not so! This morning there were two active trails on my front porch (cheeky little devils). As of 2:30 this afternoon, all the Trompa traps I set out, and I set out a lot, are gone. And there are no more ants coming. This will probably start a run on Trompa, so get yours while supplies last!
Me? I just hope my ylang comes back.

Plant for the Week

As you know, I was on vacation. I took a lot of pictures, some of interesting plant life. Here is one of them. If you don’t recognize it – and my Kurdish guide didn’t – this is emmer wheat—the forerunner of all that good stuff growing in Kansas. If I could get some seeds, I’d try it!

Editor's note: More information on this article or about gardening, Ms. Victoria Torley, gardener columnist, can be reached at

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