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.

Bonus Tip:

Another way to save on your monthly Internet and TV costs is to find a current ATT U-Verse coupon code or at least a promotion to knock down your home service bill.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

A Bernal July 23, 2011 at 3:31 pm

The “sweet” bait that he used can be replicated by substituting jelly and boric acid. Start with SEVERAL squares of cardboard. mix some stronger bait and some weaker bait, of both the protein and sugar varieties. then use the bait the ants go for the most.

molnar July 24, 2011 at 6:40 pm

still got ants problem… try this

Mark July 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm

This is even easier: mix equal amounts of sugar and borax and leave where you see ants. Works every time.

Jim Dandey July 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Several weeks!? I think not; buy some Combat brand ant baits…

M Charlton July 27, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Try mixing baby powder and cinnamon (1/2 to 1/2 ratio). Sprinkle around base of kitchen cabinets and wherever you see ants. It will keep them away. It really works.

Jose February 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Ants are very important in Nature. They recycle residues and dead animals.
And why not eat them instead of killing them ? 🙂

AntMom February 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm

What if you have pets? Will the boric acid harm them?

Chris February 16, 2012 at 3:27 am

If you have pets simply take an empty margarine container, punch a few small holes in it with a pen, place the poison inside the container, tape it firmly shut so no animals or children can open it and then place it out of the way some place where the ants will get into it but it’s not likely to attract your pets attention.

Richard Tenamore February 27, 2012 at 5:50 am

I have used a much simplie solution that is 100% effective, and it works on kitchen ants large and small as well as carpenter ants. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of Boric acid powder with about the same amount of honey. Use a toothpich or some other small tool to place dabs of the mixture where the ants appear. They will eat it and destroy the colony. It they don’t eat it, put the mixturn on a few of them and they will still destroy the colony after licking the poison mixture and dying. A more powerful aproach works great on persistent Carpenter ants; that usually search out wet or damp wood in your home. Drill 1/4 inch homes in the wall or surtfaces where the live. Dip a clean dry straw into a contailer of Boric acid powder forcing Boric acid powder into that end of the straw. Insert the poisoned end of the straw into one of the holes and blow into the straw (clean End) . This will diperse the boric acid over their living area and they will disappear. The ants are carniverous and the dead poisoned ants keep feeding and poinoning the live ones. AMEN

NAC February 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I can tell you that my DOG LOVES PEANUT BUTTER and can smell it a mile away. It is her favorite treat. If she can get to it she will. I would think that if my dog consumed this mixture, it would have serious health risks and possibly cause a pets death. It is not worth the risk. I would not suggest that anyone with a pet try this.

Patsy February 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I killed my house ants with borax washing soda mixed with strawberry presrves. Left a little cup by the door where they liked to come up on the porch and in about a week I had killed all of them. I had ants coming in all over my kitchen and living room as it’s a raised house. One night I was wondering why the dogs had not eaten there food only to walk over look down in the bowl and see it covered in ants. That was the last straw. I got rid of them a year ago and they haven’t come back. I can’t believe those poor people are paying all that money for something they could do for pennies.

Joanneo March 15, 2012 at 10:13 am

Try Bounce dryer sheets. Works like a charm for me and the many others I have told to try it. If you have a lot of ants 6 or 8 sheets should do it for a few just 1 or 2 sheets.Helps if you can trace where the ants are coming in and start there laying the sheets work to it>>>>>>>>>

mike g March 16, 2012 at 5:53 am

apple peels~~thinly sliced, tomorrow, NO ANTS!!!

Sheena April 1, 2012 at 7:29 am

Another solution is to wipe area of entry with white vinegar. It disrupts their path and they go away. It isn’t permanent and it doesn’t kill the colony or individual ants so it is also good for the environment.

Tao April 12, 2012 at 7:32 am

My mom used baking yeast against ants,and it worked fine. Just reduce some of it to little grains or flakes and disperse them near their holes or paths. After they eat it they probably blow up.

Jody April 13, 2012 at 5:36 am

boy Tao, I would love to see that!

by the way, sweetened condensed milk with boric acid works too–and gets rid of cockroaches also–

if you need something immediate for the ants, a spray bottle full of water, and slice up little chips of leftover hand soap mixed in. One squirt he’s dead.

Michael D. May 3, 2012 at 4:17 am

We have pets, and just about gave up on the ant battle. When visiting a friend in Louisiana, they have a kinds of ants in all varieties and sizes… However, her place had none! I ask her about it and she said an old cajun gave her the cure… Simple Corn Meal! Just pour a little and the ants go crazy… take it to the nest for food… they all eat it and go BOOM! Amazing eh? I haven’t had an ant since!!

betty snell May 3, 2012 at 6:45 am

For a colony in the yard, I sprinkle boric washing soda on the the colony. The borax washes down into the colony. Also, if you have a fireplace, springle borax over every couple of layers. This keeps ants from being brought in with the wood.

Sylvia Kearns May 8, 2012 at 9:27 am

Why go out and buy anything when all you need is a kettle full of boiling water? Simply pour the boiling water into the holes / entrances. Simple!

Laura May 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm

@ Jose- if you eat them, you are killing them. I wouldn’t want them to die that way!

Hubert May 29, 2012 at 11:00 am

Boric Acid/Borax powder works great with cockroaches too. I had an infestation in my restaurant (hundreds of baby cockroaches around the kitchen). After temporarily closing the shop and dusting all the cracks and corners where they may hide (used about a gallon worth of that stuff), about 2 weeks later they all died and disappeared. I’ve been cockroach free for 3 years.

Jane June 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I had an ant problem in my classroom at school and had to be very careful of what I used around students. A custodian suggested sprinkling baby powder at the windows and across the base of the outside door (on the inside of the the door frame). It worked and I haven’t had an ant in my room in 2 years. I used the same technique at home at my kitchen window when I saw a stray, lone ant one day. It also worked. I haven’t seen another ant.

Jojo June 16, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Spray the ants with Windex. Kills fast and breaks up their GPS.

bebesvin June 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I just pour salt into the ant hole, and the ants go away for the year. Takes one, sometimes two applications, but always works.

bebesvin June 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I agree with NAC – a lot of dogs would die with this type of recipe… do *not* user peanut butter if you have a dog around. Try salt 🙂

NAC February 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I can tell you that my DOG LOVES PEANUT BUTTER and can smell it a mile away. It is her favorite treat. If she can get to it she will. I would think that if my dog consumed this mixture, it would have serious health risks and possibly cause a pets death. It is not worth the risk. I would not suggest that anyone with a pet try this.

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