Ants are the worst! Whether they’re in your garden or finding their way into your home after a big rain, they’re a huge pest! And those store bought ant traps only kill the worker ants who actually find their way to the trap. Luckily there’s a really simple way to get rid of ants (including the larvae and queen!) with borax and sugar!
We had so many ants find their way into our house after the crazy rainstorms we had in spring; they were everywhere! We put down bait traps but it only seemed to kill the ants that actually ate the bait; they didn’t take it back to the queen because, sure enough, the next day/week/month we had more ants finding their way into the house!
And in my garden there were so many ants all over my chamomile plants that they drove away all the ladybugs I released to help with the aphid infestation! But after I put out this borax solution, all the ants disappeared from the garden and I was able to release ladybugs who ate all the aphids. Win-win! And, even better, we haven’t seen a single ant in the house since!
How To Get Rid Of Ants With Borax And Sugar
You only need a few things: (affiliate links below)
First, let’s talk about the difference between borax and boric acid. In the most basic terms, borax is a mineral that is mined from the ground, and it turns into boric acid with further processing (usually exposure to an acid such as hydrochloric or sulfuric acid). The borax you can buy in stores is usually 20 Mule Team Borax, which is labeled for use in laundry. It’s actually only 99.5% borax (the mineral), but that’s close enough! So for the purposes of this tutorial, I mean 20 Mule Team Borax when I say borax.
Both borax and boric acid are toxic if ingested. I don’t want to spark an argument over just “how toxic” they are; you can do your own research and form your own opinions. But in my opinion, when the labels say “Toxic if ingested, keep out of reach of pets and children”, it means it’s toxic enough that I don’t mess around with it!
In terms of using borax and boric acid as a pesticide, boric acid is labeled for use as a pesticide, while borax is labeled for use in laundry. But because of the high concentration of borax (the mineral) in borax (the product), it seems to work just as well as boric acid when used in this sugar mixture.
So, all of that to say, for the purposes of this tutorial, you can use either boric acid or borax to kill ants! And, whichever one you use, remember to keep it away from children and pets, and be cautious as it might cause irritation on your skin or mucous membranes if touched or inhaled!
What do ants eat?
It may seem like ants eat anything and everything, but that’s not true! Adult ants only eat liquids; they can’t digest solid foods. Larvae, on the other hand, can process solid foods into liquid form, and the queen feeds on that liquid. So to fully kill an entire colony of ants you need bait that is both liquid and solid so that the worker ants eat the liquids, and bring the solids back to the nest for the larvae and queen.
For both the liquid and solid ant baits, you want to mix the borax or boric acid into the sugary bait in a 1 to 3 ratio.
I used maple syrup for the liquid bait, but honey would work just as well. Microwave the syrup (I used 3/4 C) for a few seconds until warm. Then mix in your borax or boric acid (I used 1/4 C). Stir until combined.
For the solid ant bait, mix the borax or boric acid in with powdered sugar (again I used 3/4 C sugar and 1/4 C of borax or boric acid). Stir well to make sure it’s completely mixed.
For ants in the kitchen, bathroom, or anywhere else in your home:
Go outside and find a trail of ants. Using a spoon, drop a big glob of the liquid mixture right onto the trail of ants. Even if the trail of ants goes up a wall, just drip some liquid down the wall on top of the ants. This ensures the ants can find the bait; if you drop it even just a few inches away, they might walk right past it on their way into your house! (See how the liquid on the white trim has ants all over it, but the liquid a few inches away on the wood fence post has no ants? The ant trail went up the white trim, not the wood post, so they didn’t even notice the bait on the wood!)
If you find an ant trail on the ground or any other horizontal surface, sprinkle some of the solid mixture a few inches away from the liquid glob. Alternating liquids and solids every few inches, drop each kind of bait onto the trail of ants two or three times.
Then find another trail of ants and repeat the process! Just make sure your globs of liquid are pretty big; otherwise they’ll evaporate too quickly before the ants can drink it all.
Within 20 minutes you should see tons of ants flocking to your liquids! Don’t worry if you don’t see a bunch of ants on the solid bait; they will carry pieces of it back to the nest for the larvae. After about three days the ants should be gone!
For ants in the garden:
If you have ants in your garden, do NOT drop the ant bait directly onto the soil! Borax and boric acid can act as herbicides and may harm your plants! Put the mixtures on tupperware lids and set those in your garden instead. As long as you’re careful when you water your plants, and you pick up the lids/bait before it rains, the ants can get to the bait but it won’t soak into the soil and harm your plants!
I’m so thrilled with how well this worked for the ants in our home and garden! It definitely works better than the store bought bait traps that we tried. How do you deal with ants in your home?
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