Cheap and Effective Ant Control: A True Story

by Gina Blitstein · 34 comments

Once there was a kitchen in a home where meals were prepared, crumbs were dropped, food was spattered and pets were fed. Although it was kept relatively clean, it became a favorite dining establishment for a colony of ants.

After several years of unsuccessfully battling the ants with purchased bait and spray, the homeowners called an exterminator. The exterminator seemed knowledgeable and experienced about the homeowners’ pests: slab ants, he called them. He said they enter houses searching for food and a warm environment to build their colony — and this kitchen with its warm pipes and easy access to food was ant paradise.

The exterminator proposed injecting a sweet bait where ant activity had been observed that would attract the worker ants, laced with a substance that they would carry back to the nest, which would poison the entire colony. The plan sounded good to the homeowners, so they agreed to the treatment and the $130 price tag, which gave the exterminator 30 days to rid their home of the ants. The exterminator left them with the assurance that, “If you still see ants after after ten days, we’ll try a different bait.”

Ten days passed and, although there was some interest in the bait, ants remained. The homeowners contacted the exterminator who administered a second treatment, this one a ‘protein based’ bait which was likewise supposed to utilize the worker ants to poison the colony. At first, the ants came out in droves to ingest the protein-based bait. The homeowners rejoiced, certain their infestation problems were behind them. Thirteen days later, however, they observed more ants then ever! The exterminator returned with the ‘last resort’ treatment — a spray poison that was supposed to put an end to the colony once and for all.

The homeowners were guardedly optimistic about the final treatment, and proud of themselves for getting all the treatments to which they were entitled according to the agreement with the exterminator… Until the ants returned.

That’s when the homeowners turned to the internet for assistance. They knew a few things already: they were unwilling to pay another $130 — especially for ineffective treatment — and that their particular ants preferred the protein-based bait. With a little research, they discovered a ‘recipe’ for ant bait that has proved every bit as effective and considerably less expensive than the exterminator’s.

High-protein peanut butter boric acid ant bait

⅓ cup peanut butter (100% peanut; no carbohydrates added)
2 teaspoons boric acid powder
Abundant patience

Blend peanut butter with boric acid with disposable utensils in a disposable container. Label conspicuously as “Ant Bait” so it’s not mistaken as edible. Distribute in areas where you see ants, either directly on the floor or on 2″x2” pieces of cardboard placed where they’re crawling.

You may observe a lot of ant activity if the ants are attracted to it! Replace the bait every two days to keep it fresh. If the ants remain after a couple weeks, add another couple teaspoons of boric acid to the recipe and try again. This is where the patience comes in. Continue this process for several weeks until the ants are gone.

That’s what the homeowners have done and in five weeks from the initial application, they are currently ant free. This technique comes with no guarantee but it’s much cheaper than paying an exterminator (each batch costs only a few cents) and — so far — at least as effective as the ‘professional’ treatment.

The moral of the story is, if you’re willing to put forth the effort and patience, a homemade remedy for ant control can be effective and much cheaper.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Antalan June 29, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I use Sublime Sulfur. It may take some time to work but It works. The only problem is that another Ant Colony will replace the dead colony. Like Small Red Ants first appeared then Big Black Ants followed by Big Red Ants and then Small Black Ants…

ron July 2, 2012 at 12:41 pm

We had ants galore in our kitchen until someone told us to spread out cornmeal. We did and it worked immediately because the ants can’t digest it and carry it back to their queen and other worker ants and they choke on it and die, too. It always worked for us within 24 hours.

Dawn July 14, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Cinnamon sticks. Just spread cinnamon sticks were you see the ants entering the house. Once they have all disappeared place the sticks into a screw top jar and keep for next time. Amazing YES but it works.

Alison July 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Can you please explain what is “corn meal”? I live in England and we don’t have such a thing.

tessa July 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Here’s a much much better solution. Get rid of all the cleaning detergents and liquids and go natural using only vinegar to clean your house (from the kitchen to the bathroom). The ants and all other bugs (no matter which of them) just go away and never come back. And you can live in a house which is really clean and totally free of carcinogenics (that’s those molecules that attract ants and other bugs, believe me).

Vicki July 22, 2012 at 3:13 pm

@ Allison, cornmeal is dry corn that is ground for use in baking. If you do an internet search for a recipe for cornbread it will call for cornmeal. I use it between a pizza pan and the pizza dough to keep it from sticking. It can also be added to water, cooked and eaten as a hot cereal. I hope this has been helpful.

Anne July 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Sprinkle iodized salt liberally on floors & carpeting, even overstuffed furniture to kill flea infestation. Put in blender, slowly moving up to highest setting to create powder. The fleas get into the salt and dehydrate. It also kills the baby ones as the eggs hatch…. No more fleas! But good luck getting all the salt up.

Windex DOES work indoors to kill ants instantly. Will try the corn meal on porch and patio as windex seeps into concrete too quickly so you have to use lots in those areas.

Claudia November 3, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I heard that rice grains work too, I’m not sure if cooked or not (I think not). Ants will quicly carry it to their nest: there, with humidity, the rice grains will grow some kind of fungus that kills ants. I think it only works for ants that are big enough to pick up a rice grain, perhaps you can grind the rice for smaller ants.

Nicole November 7, 2012 at 8:05 am

I was in England last year and you can find corn meal at Tesco with the Indian foods. Apparently they use it in their cooking. I had been looking for it months to make cornbread.

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