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Anyone who has ever owned an ant farm, stumbled upon an ant colony in his or her yard, or even just heard a few facts about ants will know that they are among the most fascinating creatures in all of nature. They are incredibly intelligent and social beings who create sophisticated colonies with an efficient division of labor. They communicate in a variety of ways. They are capable of lifting 10-100 times their body weight. The list could go on for many pages, but the bottom line is that ants are pretty amazing insects.
Of course, ants are not quite as awesome when you discover that they have infiltrated your home or business. Besides being unsightly, unsanitary, and admittedly creepy to some, ants can cause damage to your home. Depending on the species, they can burrow into wood structures, which leads to costly repairs. Also, some species will bite. If you discovered ants have entered your home, what can you do? One cost-effective solution to try as your first line of defense would be to use boric acid.
Why (and How) to Use Boric Acid
Image via Flickr by tobiassjosten
Boric acid is, in essence, a poison to ants. It impacts their stomachs, their nervous systems, and their exoskeletons. To be fair, boric acid is a poison to other living creatures, too. However, the amount of boric acid that is ideal to use as ant killer is such a trace amount that using it in your home does not pose a large threat to pets or humans. Indeed, in contrast to other products — which usually contain larger amounts of harsh chemicals — boric acid is considered to be a much less toxic insecticide.
There are good reasons why you only need to use very small amounts of boric acid. (If done right, the insecticide will only be 1-2% boric acid.) First, you will mix the poisonous substance with food that ants enjoy. If you use too much acid, it could overpower the aroma/taste of the bait, which means the ants will not eat it.
Second, you want the ants to bring the poisoned food back to the rest of the colony. In an ideal scenario, the ants will share the food with the queen (or queens, in some colonies). If she dies, the colony quickly disappears, as she is the only one that can lay eggs. However, if your boric acid ant killer is too strong, you will kill the worker ants before they have a chance to share your deadly ant treat with all of their friends.
How to Make Homemade Ant Killer With Boric Acid
Another reason that boric acid is a great choice to use to eradicate ants in your home/business is that you can make it relatively inexpensively. Although you can certainly buy ant killers that feature boric acid, a homemade version is usually cheaper and often more effective because you can tailor it to the tastes of the ants in your own home/business. Plus, homemade ant killer is very easy to make.
Just follow these simple steps:
- Buy boric acid. It can be found at most pharmacies, or you can buy it online.
- Decide what kind of food to use as bait The most common choices are sugar water, honey, jelly, peanut butter, regular butter, or bacon grease. Mix one cup of food with 3/4 tsp. boric acid. Do this with several different foods and leave them out for a few days to discover which draws the most ants. After that, use whichever food(s) attracted the most ants to create a bigger batch of ant killer.
- Find a container for your ant bait. You can choose from a variety of options. Ants are capable of entering into almost any container as long as it is not airtight. Small jars with holes punched in the lids or without lids altogether work well, as do bottle caps, tin foil, wax paper, drinking straws, and more.
- Place your bait in places where you have seen ants, especially if you have seen a line of ants. If you are unsure, countertop counters, windowsills, and near door frames are often the best locations. Realize that you often will need 15-30 bait stations, and if you put enough, the ants will find the bait.
Two Important Caveats
Remember that this method for killing ants is, by definition, a slow process. You should see a reduction in ants within a few days, but it can take weeks or even months before the colony is completely eradicated. If you need a more immediate solution for whatever reason, it would be wise to contact a pest control specialist.
Also, please note that boric acid ant killers do not work against all species of ants. Boric acid works well against the vast majority of ants that might enter a home, including ones that are smaller and black or reddish-black, such as the Argentine ant or the Pharaoh ant. These types of ants are collectively sometimes referred to as sugar ants.
Boric acid usually does not work on ants that generally stay outdoors, like harvester ants or fire ants. If you are experiencing troubles with these kinds of ants, you should contact a pest control specialist.
Overall, boric acid is an excellent way to get rid of common house ants. It is relatively inexpensive, it is easy to make, and it doesn’t contain the kinds — or, more accurately, the concentrations — of substances that will hurt humans or pets. If you are seeing ants in your home or you have suspicions of an infestation, following these tips would be a great place to start. After all, as neat as ants are, the last thing you need is to discover that the ant farm you remember so fondly as a child is now being built within your walls.