If you've been a subscriber to these GardenLine Email Tips for some time, you are probably well aware of how we've been able to utilize the myth de-bunking website snopes.com to help "counter" email chains that might have a gardening or horticultural hint.
Recently I had to use Snopes again to counter a flurry of emails regarding Sweet'N Low as a fire ant killer. I didn't believe the first email or the others that followed, but I knew that the only way the chain-email-sending-fools would believe me is if I backed up my claims with valid research; not that any of them stuck one bit of valid research in their hyperbolic emails. Not only have I gotten questions about the validity of this claim, but I've had people absolutely "swear" that it works. The crux of the story is really about the active ingredient, aspartame, being touted as a poison that makes a great fire ant killer. If this is so then why are we eating it in our foods?.
Like I said, I didn't believe it the first time I read it, but I did my research and called the fire ant experts at Texas A&M. They giggled a bit when I asked them to confirm or deny the use of aspartame as a fire ant killer. I even forwarded them an email of one listener, who absolutely swore by its ability to thwart fire ants.
Those researchers noted that if you put any totally foreign substance down around a fire ant mound it's very likely that they will pick up and leave the area. But, as noted in this Snopes article; it's all a myth and there is not one lick of scientific research to back the claim that "aspartame kills fire ants."
Since I mentioned the use of Snopes to help debunk many a gardening myths, I think it's worth re-visiting each of the ones we've done in the past. The first dispelled the myth that the mulch from Louisiana, following Hurricane Katrina, was infested with termites. It was a myth and here's the story we wrote concerning the email chain, along with the Snopes.com link embedded in the story.
One of my favorite debunking stories that rears its head once a year, has to do with love bugs. No, they were not an experiment in Florida gone awry.
Early on, in this free email tip service, I also gave you a three-for-one email tip on Snopes debunking. All of them were related to spiders.
You don't just need snopes.com to debunk gardening-related email chains. In fact, any time you get a series of the same emails on any subject, do yourself a favor (maybe you can help stop the flow of email chains at least) and check out snopes.com.
Until next issue, here's to Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard exclusively, 6-10 a.m. Saturdays and 7-10 a.m. Sundays, only on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
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