Making your own ant bait using borax or boric acid is easy. Mixing ant bait that will be effective on the pests in your home and garden is not. No one formula is effective against all the different types of ants. By experimenting with different formulas, find the right bait and bait-to-borax ratio for your ants. According to research done by University of California entomologists, the most effective bait contains 5 percent borax or boric acid. However, some ants react to a 1 percent solution while others need a 10 percent solution. If the ratio is too low, the ants won't die. If it is too high, they will die too early and not carry the bait back to the nest to kill the colony.
Things You'll Need
- Peanut butter or bacon grease
- apple jelly, corn syrup, honey or sugar
- cardboard or aluminum foil
- pencil or pen
- Baby food or similar jars
- Permanent marker
- Borax or boric acid
Determining the Best Bait and Placement
Create bait stations by placing a pea-sized amount of honey, apple jelly or peanut butter onto a piece of cardboard. You will need one bait station for every 50 square feet of space you want to survey.
Set several pieces of foil with food around areas where you have noticed ant activity. Place the foil pieces approximately 15 to 20 feet apart around the surveyed area.
Wait two hours and then check on the foil. Record on a sheet of paper the number of ants feeding at each station.
Repeat Steps 1 through 3 with a different food. Test at least one sweet food such as honey, jelly, corn syrup or sugar and one greasy, high-protein food like peanut butter or bacon grease. The goal of this step is to figure out which type of food the ants prefer. Mix bait using that food or similar foods.
Make note of which area and bait received the most ant activity. Bait stations where you observed at least 10 ants are the best place to put the toxic bait.
How to Bait Ants
Measure 1/2 cup of food material based upon your tests.
Add 1-1/4 teaspoons of borax or boric acid to the food material and mix well.
Put the mixed bait into a sealed container with holes punched into it like a baby food jar. This will protect the bait from animals and children. Write "Poison" on the jar with a permanent marker.
Place the bait in the areas indicated from your tests. Store any unused bait in a sealed container in a cool, dark place. Remember to label the container as poisonous.
Check on the stations every couple of days. If you notice dead ants near the station, the bait-poison ratio is too high. Remix the bait using 3/4-to-1 teaspoon of borax or boric acid or add more food to the bait mixture.
Increase the amount of borax or boric acid if ant activity has not decreased after two weeks. After two weeks, if ant activity has not decreased, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, 1 to 2 percent for every 1/2 cup of bait.
Change or freshen-up the bait if ants stop visiting the bait stations. Some ants, like carpenter ants, are finicky eaters that lose interest in bait after a week or two. They can also lose interest if the bait dries out. Some other ant bait formulas to try include 3 tablespoons peanut butter with 5 tablespoons honey, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water, or 6 tablespoons peanut butter and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.
Continue baiting ants for at least three to four weeks.
Tips & Warnings
- Bait needs to go back to the colony so the entire ant nest is destroyed. Borax is sold as a laundry booster in most grocery stores. Find boric acid at your local pharmacy.
- Keep borax and boric acid away from children, pets and animals.
- University of Nebraska; Ant Baits -- A Least Toxic Control; Barb Ogg
- Colorado State University; Ants in the Home; W.S. Cranshaw; January 2009
- "Pest Control"; In Search of the 'Sweet Spot'; John Klotz, et al.; September 2004
- Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Project; Home-Made Boric Acid; Bastiaan Drees
- Texas AgriLife Extension Service; Homemade Baits; Drs. Bart Drees, et al.
- North Dakota State University Extension; Questions on Ants; Ronald C. Smith
- Photo Credit Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images
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