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Homemade Ant Killer Bait

- Effective baits made of sugar and boric acid -

Summary: Many household nuisance ant infestations can be safely managed with baits that contain boric acid, or borate insecticide plus a sugar base. These ant killers can be homemade or purchased ready-made.

Baits to control nuisance ants

There are a number of small, nuisance ants that invade kitchens and homes that can be managed safely with baits if the infestation is not too large. Baits are made from sugar and some type of slow acting insecticide. The idea is that ants find the sugary bait and have time to carry some back to the nest before the insecticide goes to work. Ant killer baits can be purchased ready-made, or can be homemade from a sugary base plus borate insecticide (see Using Boric Acid As An Insecticide).

Ants that can be managed with these simple baits are odorous house ant, Argentine ant, pharaoh ant, pavement ant and a few others so long as the infestation is not too large. Some ants, however, like carpenter ants, fire ants and harvester ants must be managed in other ways.

ants attracted to bait station

A few drops of homemade bait on a piece of waxed paper. Ants quickly locate the bait and take it back to their nest.

Making the homemade bait

The homemade bait consists of a liquid sugar base and boric acid. Corn syrup, such as Karo Syrup (tm), makes an excellent base for the bait. A small amount of vegetable oil can be added to the syrup for times when ants seems to be more interested in fats than sugars. You'll need to adjust the fat/sugar ratio depending on your own observations. Most of the time 100% syrup baits work fine. If ants seem to be ignoring the bait stations try adding a little vegetable oil (see How To Control Nuisance Ants).

Commercial ant baits vary in concentration of boric acid between 1-5%. Available sources of boric acid sources include boric acid insecticidal dusts, and products like TimBor Insecticide (see Related Articles below). Any of these sources are nearly pure boric acid, or borate salt.

Example ant bait recipes

mix: 1/4 teaspoon TimBor (0.5g) + 1 tablespoon of corn syrup (10g)


mix: 1/8 teaspoon boric acid dust insecticide (0.5g) + 1 tablespoon of corn syrup (10g)

Store this mixture in a covered container; if it crystallizes add a little water and re-mix. The difference in the amount of the borate source is because TimBor is a light, fluffy powder so more of it is needed to get an equivalent amount of borate.

Either bait mixture should be diluted with water before use because there is some evidence that concentrations of boric acid greater than 2% actually may repel ants. Mix 1 part bait with 1 or 2 parts warm water.

Using the bait

Depending on the size of the infestation the bait can be used either by placing a few drops on a piece waxed paper or a larger amount in a covered plastic tub in which holes near the top allow ants to enter and exit. Bait stations should be placed near ant trails and do not contaminate the area with insecticides as this will repel ants from the baits. You should also prevent access to bait from children and pets.

Commercial ant baits

Ant baits can also be purchased online and at lawn and garden outlets. Terro (tm) is a popular commercial liquid ant bait (see right) and is effective for most household nuisance ants. Borate-based liquid ant baits are low toxicity and very effective but baits alone may not eliminate large colonies. The aim is to suppress colonies a few times a year. Since these ants pose no threat to the home's structure, complete elimination is usually not necessary. Large colonies that won't succumb to baits alone may require wall void treatments which is a job most homeowners won't want to tackle themselves. You can hire a pest control company to do these treatments.

Related Articles

+ Using Boric Acid as an Insecticide

+ Using Timbor Insecticide

+ What are the Household Nuisance Ants?

+ Control of Household Nuisance Ants

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