Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How to Kill Ants in Your Home

A Homemade Ant Bait

Do you have to do battle with ants in your home?  Do you feel as frustrated as I do when facing this yearly ritual?  The ants are back.  Yes, I'm very unhappy to report that the annual ant battle is underway in my home.  It's early March and already I have ants coming out of the woodwork. Literally, ants are coming out of the woodwork!  I saw a few little ants gathering around a speck on the floor.  When there is one, there are many.  Oh no!

Ant Sighting!
Let the battle begin!  What concerns me most about the battle of the ants is the questionable safety of the arsenal of weapons we have at our disposal.  I've used ant sprays, ant traps, and exterminators.  None of them have been particularly successful.  I am also uncomfortable about frequent applications of insecticides and potential impacts to family members and our dog.  Frustrated and at wits end last summer, I searched to find a safer, more effective solution.  I found one that worked well for me, so I want to share it with you.  I'm using homemade ant bait.

Ant bait works by attracting the worker ants to the bait.  The ants feed on it, then carry it back to the colony and feed the growing ants.  This effectively eliminates the colony.  This works better than just spraying the worker ants with insecticide.  That just kills the ants but doesn't kill off the colony. Making homemade ant bait is easy.  All you need is borax, sugar, and water.  Be sure to follow the directions below and you'll be all set.

Making Ant Bait Is Easy
Mix together 2 cups of warm water, ten teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of borax.  Stir the mixture until all of the sugar and borax crystals dissolve.  You may need to heat the mixture a bit in the microwave to aid the dissolving process, but it really doesn't take very long.  Set the mixture aside to cool.

You'll also need appropriate containers to hold the liquid bait.  I use the lids from plastic deli containers like the one in the picture above.  They are very shallow and provide easy access for the ants.  I've tried many alternatives but always come back to these shallow, flat lids.  The only drawback is that there is no cover to conceal the bait.  If you have pets or young children you'll need to be careful that they can't access the bait in these lids.

Next, you'll need self-control and patience.  Please don't underestimate the importance of this. First, let's address the self-control.  What is the first thing you want to do when you see an ant in your home?  You want to squash it, don't you?  You want to reach for that can of ant spray and kill every ant you see, don't you?  Well, this is where the self-control comes in.  You really must let them be.  The ant bait won't work unless the ants feed on it and take it back to the colony.  So, the best thing you can do is take a breath and put out the homemade ant bait.  Put it right where you see the ants.  You want them to find it quickly and easily.  The faster they find the bait, the sooner your ant problem is O-V-E-R!

The Ants Have Found The Bait
Within an hour of setting out the bait, the ants had begun to find it.  See them lining up along the edge of the lid?  See how there are more than I originally spied on the floor?  Remember, where there is one, there are many.

Now let's talk about patience.  Unfortunately, this ant killing solution takes a bit of time.  Depending on the size of your ant problem, you may find yourself refilling your bait trays over and over again.  As long as you see the ants coming to your bait you must keep providing a fresh quantity of solution.  Yes, friends, this is not a quick fix.  In my experience, it could take up to a few weeks before you are confident the ants are gone.  In the meantime, you will get satisfaction in seeing the ants coming willingly to the trough.

It's An Ant Party!

Here's a picture of the morning after I set out the bait.  I actually needed to add more bait.  Some evaporated overnight, but the ants have sent the word out to all their little ant friends to come to the feeding party.   This battle is going very well.   I am satisfied... and patient.

Be sure to keep your ant bait solution in a well marked, covered container away from pets and children.  The solution is very sweet (with ten teaspoons of sugar) so pets and children may find it attractive to sample.  I store mine in a well-marked, recycled deli container or a mason jar on a high shelf with my cleaning products.

With patience, self-control, borax, sugar, and water you, too, can be ant free.  It's a beautiful thing!

Update:  March 21, 2011
Two weeks later and all of the ants are gone!  This really works.

No More Ants!

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  1. sounds so easy,if I have a problem I will try it!

  2. Tried this last year when you gave me the recipe. You are right, it does require patience, but it does work. Btw- the answer to the trivia question about the grasshopper is- from the show Kung Fu

  3. Amy, you are so right! Kung Fu is the answer. Thanks for answering the question. The bait is working on my current ants already. It looks like this might be a swift result for this batch of ants.

  4. I never thought to use sugar and create a bait but I have carpet and I sprinkle the borax powder all over the carpet, get the broom and sweep it to be sure it gets everywhere (I don't have small kids or pets) I leave it for a couple of days and then vacuum. Reduced the ants significantly, Will have to try the homemade bait in the bath and kitchen. Great idea!

  5. Shoe Diva, I've heard that putting the borax powder in their path works as well, but haven't tried it because I have a dog. The liquid bait is working well. I am already seeing many fewer ants.

  6. I've had the ant parties in the past, too. Mostly when we moved into our house three years ago. To be honest, I just called Orkin. Grossed me out too much. Since then, though, when they reappear, I get the ant hotels ASAP. Maybe I'll try this next time.

  7. The borax bait (homemade or commercial) will work if the ant colony is small. But some ant colonies are HUGE - they may be as large as the length of your house. That's what we have at my house -- there are ants in EVERY ROOM. Sometimes a few, sometimes a hundred, sometimes a thousand. (no kidding) Of course, cleaning up every crumb of food, and spills, will help. They like moisture. In the bathroom, they are attracted to toothpaste, shaving cream residue, etc. They climb into my teacup when I set it down. They get into the cat dishes. Yuck. I have finally resorted to a poison spray. It got to be too much when, as I was kneading bread, they continued to march across the counter and into the bread right under my hands. I have no patience left!

  8. I'm going to have to remember this, for when our annual "ant march" starts in the spring. EVERY year. No matter how clean and crumb-free I keep everything. drives me nuts!

  9. i have ants bad what do i do .

  10. I want you to know that I tried this and it worked. You are right about being patient, but I'm amazed it actually worked!

    1. It works for as well, Mary. It's not for those without patience though.

  11. Need to get rid of the ants on the patio, any suggestions?

    1. I've used this technique outside on my deck and it worked really well. The only thing though, is that your solution will dry out so you need to watch it and be ready to refill frequently. It takes more work, but is successful. I'm also trying a new technique that seems promising. I put borax powder into a plastic squirt dispenser (like old fashioned ketchup dispensers) and squirt it out on ant hills. The borax powder attaches to the burrs on the ants' legs and as they clean themselves they ingest it and die. It seems to be working for me and may be worth a try.

  12. I, too, must reiterate what Donna says re: patience! It's so satisfying to smash the few first comers, but DON'T DO IT!! Thanks for the ant remedy, Donna

    1. I agree. Patience will be rewarded.


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