Ants never seem to come marching one by one. If you see one ant, there's an army on the trail behind it, scurrying into your house and kitchen. While stopping the trail of ants is important, encouraging the pests to carry tasty tidbits back to the nest allows you to introduce ant-killing substances to the queens and other ants. Baking soda is one substance often mentioned in newspaper columns and online; however, it appears that other readily available substances are more effective in killing ants.
Baking Soda Ant Bait
The Bugman, Richard Fagerlund, discusses using equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar, also known as icing sugar, as an ant bait in his newspaper column. Place the bait where ants can access it, in jar lids or other shallow containers, in the ants' path. The ants carry the powdered mixture back to the nest, where the queens and ants eat it and die. According to Fagerlund, when insects eat the baking soda, it produces carbon dioxide bubbles that kill the pests.
But, Does It Work?
Barb Org, a University of Lancaster Extension educator, emphatically states that there is no evidence that baking soda is effective against ants. There are no scientific studies that support the carbon dioxide theory or the success of the baking soda ant bait. There is only anecdotal evidence that it works. One oft-quoted recommendation, however, may give some credence to the success stories: Users of the homemade bait should also clean all counters thoroughly and make sure that all foods are in sealed containers. This would discourage ants from making further foraging trips into the kitchen.
Boric Acid Solution
At the University of California, Riverside, entomologists John Koltz and Les Greenburg conducted research on using boric acid as an ant bait. Their recipe provides an organic option to more toxic pesticides.
- 1 teaspoon of boric acid
- 6 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 cups of warm water
Thoroughly mix the boric acid and sugar in warm, but not boiling, water, until completely dissolved.
Fill small jars, such as baby food jars or margarine containers, one-half full with cotton balls. Punch several holes in each lid with a hammer and a nail.
Cover the cotton balls with the boric acid and sugar solution. Screw the lids tightly onto the jars.
Place the bait jars in the ant trail and allow the ants to gather and carry the bait back to the nest.
Clean the bait jars weekly, adding new cotton balls and fresh solution. After four to six weeks, reduce the boric acid to 1/2 teaspoon. The ants will continue to carry the bait to the nest until all the ants are dead.
- Wear gloves, a dust mask and safety goggles when mixing a boric acid solution to protect your hands, lungs and eyes.
- Keep boric acid and ant baits out of reach of children and pets.
- Seal the old, used cotton balls in plastic bags before disposing of them in the trash.