Summer is here, which means that it’s time to deal with all sorts of creepy, crawly critters. With four kids in the house, we’ve had to deal with our fair share of ants in the past — though it’s been less of an issue as the kids have gotten a bit older and a bit less messy. While there are a lot of commercial solutions out there, such as Terro Ant Baits, I wanted to share a quick, cheap, and easy tip for do-it-yourself ant control.
First, pick up some boric acid powder (available at most drug stores) and mix a small amount of it 50:50 with table sugar. There’s nothing particularly scientific about this ratio, so it’s fine to just eyeball it. Next, put some of this mix into a small container such as the the cap from a milk jug or the lid from a 2 liter bottle. Finally, drizzle some water into it to make a slurry (i.e., a thick suspension). That’s it — you’re now ready to kill some ants.
Once your concoction is ready, simply set the mix in the path of the oncoming ants (they usually form a foraging trail) and then wait. At this point it’s important to be patient and not kill any of the ants yourself. The reason for this is that you want them to take your tasty treat back to the nest with them. Boric acid is toxic to ants, but it doesn’t work immediately. As such, you need to let them forage and then take it back home to share with their nestmates — this will ultimately wipe out the entire colony.
A few notes:
It might take a bit for the ants to get interested. I’ve noticed in that past that they really get going after dark, so if they don’t take interest right away, there’s still hope. Within a day or two your problem will be gone.
As I noted above, it’s important to resist the temptation to squash them once they get interested in your tasty treat. Let them have their fill and then take it back to the nest to feed it to the queen and her young’uns.
A word of caution… While boric acid is relatively low in toxicity when it comes to humans — in fact, it’s traditionally been used as an eye wash in a low concentration solution — you still shouldn’t ingest it. As such, you should keep children and/or pets away from it.
There are different kinds of ants. Some prefer sweets, whereas others prefer grease and fats. While I’ve never tried this myself, I’ve heard that mixing boric acid with peanut butter is an effective treatment for grease-eating ants. So… If sugar doesn’t work, give peanut butter a try.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the most effective way to combat the ant problem is to avoid it in the first place. Simply cleaning up after messy kids, wiping up food spills, sweeping up crumbs, etc. will go a long way toward keeping the ants away.
Need proof that it works? Check out Jim’s post on how to get rid of ants. If it worked for him, it’ll work for you.