Ants can be quite problematic for homeowners. What should you do if you find them in or around your home? While there are different solutions that can effectively repel and kill insects, many homeowners like to know how to kill ants with Borax as an alternative to commercial products. Why Borax you may be wondering? Some pesticides raise concern on their effects on the environment as well as people. In this article we give you several different recipes for an effective Borax ant killer. Besides that, we answer many of the most common questions related to ants. Personally, I hate ants with a passion and I find them disgusting. The last thing I want to see in my home is an ant, or any insect for that matter.
Hiring a professional pest control service can help get the job done safely and effectively, but it will also cost considerably more. Many homeowners turn to DIY methods as a more cost-effective solution in eradicating pests around their home. The question is, are these really effective in killing ants?
What is Borax?
You may have heard of it before or have even used it for cleaning or laundry. Borax, also known as sodium borate or sodium tetraborate, is a natural alkaline mineral. It is naturally found in areas such as salt lakes and hot springs and other seasonal lakes which repeatedly evaporate. It has a colorless and odorless appearance and is made up of a soft, powdery consistency. People often use Borax and Boric Acid interchangeably, however there is a difference. Boric acid is a resulting compound that occurs from mixing Borax with other natural minerals such as boracite or colemanite. Both have been used as methods for killing ants and one can be used in place of the other as a substitute if necessary.
In commercial use Borax can be found in many retailers. It is often used for laundry and has many versatile uses around the home as a household cleaner. It has also been found to have beneficial qualities as an anti-fungal and antibacterial effects. It is believed to be an effective solution for killing ants, so we set out to find out if this was actually accurate. It turns out, some commercial products designed to kill pests actually contain Borax as an ingredient and an effective compound to kill insects. It works gradually to kill off ant colonies so don’t expect to see results right away.
VIDEO | The Perfect Borax Ant Killer Recipe
How Does Borax Kill Ants?
To understand how to kill ants with Borax you have to know a little bit about their nature first. Ants are an invasive species. If you start seeing them in your home, chances are they are already in other places like the walls. This is why methods that kill ants on contact are not always the best plan on getting rid of ants in your home. In ant colonies you have your worker ants and the queen. The worker ants search for and collect food to bring back to the nest for the queen and larvae. The problem with killing ants that you find in your home is that as long as the queen lives, she will continue to reproduce and rebuild her colony. This means you stand a good possibility of having the ants return.
The best way to take on ant colonies that have taken up residence in your home is by bait solutions using Borax. When ants consume the bait and bring it back to their colony, the Borax will eventually kill them by interfering with their digestive system and dehydrating the body. It’s important that you know how to use Borax for this solution, as ants will not be attracted to it alone. It must be used as a bait solution in order to effectively draw ants toward it to bring back to their colony for the queen and larvae to feed on.
If you are finding ants in your home, prepare and place your bait solution around the areas where they have been seen. You might need to do a little investigation and observation to find where they are coming from. When ants find a food source, they will leave scent trails consisting of pheromones. You can’t see these scent trails, but other ants can and will follow them which is why you often see a trail of ants following in a line. Place your bait solutions around the areas and along the trails where ants are spotted.
How to Use Borax Safely
Borax is a safer alternative to chemical pesticides but caution should still be taken while using it. It can cause irritation to the skin and is considered mildly toxic (to humans) if it becomes ingested. Follow these precautions for safe handling and usage.
- Wear protective gloves before handling
- Only use Borax in well-ventilated areas
- Do not prepare your bait solution on food-preparation surfaces
- Wash your hands thoroughly after use.
- If Borax powder comes in contact with your skin or gets in your eyes, flush thoroughly with water for 15 minutes.
Guide children, pets and elderly away from the treated areas. Be sure to thoroughly wipe down and clean surfaces where your bait solution has been prepared. Thoroughly wash and sanitize or discard any tools used for mixing your bait solution such as utensils. We suggest using disposable utensils and containers for convenience when preparing your bait solution.
Homemade Borax Ant Killer Recipe
There are different ways to bait ants using a homemade Borax ant killer recipe. Because different species will be attracted to different types of bait you might need to adjust your bait solution accordingly to the species you are dealing with. Adult ants, for instance, can’t digest solid foods so they will be drawn to liquid sources. Ant larvae, however, can digest and process solid foods into a liquid form that adult ants and the queen can eat. An ideal solution is to use a combination of baits with a sugary solid, a sugary liquid, and a protein to attract various types and have greater impact.
You will need some form of container for your bait trap or solution that ants can easily access. Use small plastic containers such as a plastic lid, plate, or even a cotton ball.
For a Sugary Liquid Bait Solution – you can use a sweet syrup such as corn or maple for this type of bait. Heat up ¾ of a cup of the syrup of choice in the microwave for a few seconds. Be sure to use a microwave-safe container for this step. Mix well with ¼ cup of borax until there are no lumps. You can add a couple of drops of water if needed for consistency.
For a Sugary Solid Bait Solution – With small black ants, commonly referred to as sugar ants, a sweet solid like powdered sugar is an ideal choice. Mix ¼ cup of Borax with ¾ cup of powdered sugar. Mix together until well combined.
For a Protein Bait Solution – Peanut butter is a suitable choice for insects that are drawn to protein over sweets. For this bait solution you will use a 3:1 ratio. Mix 3 parts of peanut butter to 1 part Borax until well combined.
You can adjust the measurements of the recipes as you need but a good rule of thumb on how to kill ants with Borax is to keep a 3:1 ratio. The poison concentration needs to remain low in combination with the food source to attract the ants so they will feed on it and take it back to their nest.
Is Borax Safe Around Pets? Kids? Dogs? Cats?
Although it is safer than commercial chemicals it’s important to keep in mind that Borax can still pose a risk. Borax has a low toxicity for humans, unless it becomes ingested. It is toxic if consumed so it can pose a hazard to children as well as pets. Using Borax may not be the best choice for eradicating ant mounds in your yard or around your home if you have pets around. If you are using bait solutions with Borax inside your home, place them in areas that are well out of reach from children. Commercial ant traps containing Borax are available in child-resistance packages which still allow ants access but do not pose a risk to pets or children.
Does Borax Kill Carpenter Ants? Black Ants?
Knowing what species you are dealing with can be helpful in learning how to kill ants with Borax. It can be used to effectively kill any ant species since it has the same effect on all ant digestive systems. The method of delivery, however, may vary. There are numerous types of ant species which can be attracted and affected by different things.
The way Borax works in killing ants is through consumption. Most ant species will feed on similar foods that we eat such as those that are sweet or greasy. This is why they are typically drawn to the kitchen and pantry where food is stored. Some ant species, however, will have a preference for sources of protein such as dead insects or for fatty foods. When you are searching for effective methods to eradicate your ant problem, identifying the type of ant residing in and around your home can give you some insight on the best way to use Borax with the right kind of bait.
Black ants – small black ants, also referred to as sugar ants, are the most common you find in your home. There are actually a number of different species that are referred to as black ants. These are generally small, glossy, and mild-mannered meaning they will not harm you unless you bother them. They are still a nuisance and pose a risk of contamination on food and surfaces in your home. The numerous species of black ants vary and may be drawn to both sweets as well as proteins.
Fire Ants – Also known as red ants, these are small red-bodied or black ants that range in length from ¼ to ½ inch. They are the most aggressive species and their bite can cause painful, itchy red bumps and even cause allergic reactions. Fire ants are typically attracted to fatty foods.
Carpenter Ants – This species is also black in appearance but a little larger than your typical black ant. Carpenter ants are generally ½ inch long and like to build their nests in wood by digging out tunnels. They are attracted to damp wood and may find residence by building their nests in damp wood structures such as around bathtubs, poorly sealed window/door frames, chimneys, and leaky roofs just to name a few.
The use of Borax as a bait trap will not be effective on ant colonies that do not bring food back to their nest such as Carpenter ants. The best way to get rid of these types is to locate the nest and directly place your bait nearby for them to consume. They like to dig through wood so a big tip off to finding the nest is spotting piles of sawdust. Carpenter ants are drawn to protein sources for food such as dead insects but they can also be attracted to sweet or sugary food sources like maple syrup, sugar, decaying fruit, etc.
Ant Traps: How do they work?
Using ant traps as opposed to making your own bait solution offers an affordable and convenient solution. Ant traps also offer a more inconspicuous method of baiting solutions. Traps that are designed with enclosed housing can offer safer solutions around curious pets and children. To use them effectively, it’s a good idea to have an understanding on how these ant traps work. Some people have the misconception that ant traps are designed to physically entrap the insect. Then when they continue to see the pests crawling around their home they are under the impression that the traps don’t work.
Ant traps are designed to kill off ant colonies and do not kill on contact or even onsite. They enclose a slow-acting bait solution, instead. As previously mentioned, in order to effectively kill off ant colonies in your home the ants must be able to transport the bait back to their nest. Therefore, ant traps are designed to allow access into the housing and exit with the bait containing poison to bring back to their colony.
It’s important when using ant traps to keep in mind they work gradually. It may take a few days for the ant traps to work once the ants have taken the bait because they must get deep enough into the nest for the queen to consume it. You may want a quick-acting solution to rid your problem but killing ants on contact with products such as sprays will not offer a permanent solution. Ant colonies consist of a queen who continuously lays eggs which ultimately replaces the worker or scavenger ants. The best method to get rid of them for good is a bait solution they will bring back to the colony.
Tips for Using Ant Traps
When choosing the right ant trap look for one that contains an appropriate bait solution for the species of ants you are dealing with.
For the best results when using ant traps you should eliminate other potential food sources to prevent attracting ants away from the traps. Clean up food crumbs, grease spots and around areas where food is typically prepared and consumed such as around appliances and sinks. Do not leave food lying around and store in tightly-closed containers. This also helps prevent future infestations from occurring in your home once your ant problem has been eradicated.
If you have recently sprayed or are currently using an insecticide do not place your ant traps near the same area. Pests are likely going to avoid these areas where a clear danger poses a threat.
Place your ant traps along areas where you have spotted ant trails as well as near potential areas of entry such as near doorways or openings.
Use a sufficient supply of ant traps and baits around your home. In addition to the kitchen, ants are also drawn to water sources and may be found near bathrooms, laundry rooms or other damp areas such as basements.
Once you have placed your traps you should monitor them periodically to replace as needed when the bait has been depleted. Otherwise, leave them be and avoid interference with the ants or the traps as they might not return to the bait if it has been messed with.
Review : TERRO T300B Liquid / Best Ant Killer
- 12 bait stations included
- Kills all common household ants
- Pre-filled, ready-to-use bait stations
- Patented design prevents bait from drying out
- Attracts ants fast
- Contains Borax
- Place baits near ant trails or where ants are numerous
- Use all 6 baits to ensure sufficient supply for the ants
These pre-filled ant baits offer convenience if you don’t want to handle Borax or prepare bait mixtures. This TERRO liquid ant killer contains Borax with a liquid attractant and works effectively to attract ants to take the bait back to their colony. It is specifically formulated to last long enough to allow the worker ants to make it back to their colony where the bait can be circulated. The bait works on killing most common types of household ants you may encounter in your home. Liquid bait can be instantly consumed by adult and queen ants working more quickly than solid bait to kill the ants you see as well as the ones you can’t.
The bait stations contain the solution inside an enclosed housing that keeps the bait fresh and prevents the liquid from drying out. This provides a continuous bait solution you won’t have to frequently replace. When you are ready to use, the end contains a tab that simply snaps off. This creates a tiny opening that only ants can access to get in and out, posing no risk to pets. Place bait stations on a flat surface to prevent liquid from leaking out. These bait stations are conveniently compact in size so you can easily place them under baseboards, along window sills, and under or behind appliances where they are out of sight and out of mind. If you have pets be sure to place them where they can’t be tampered with. TERRO T300B liquid ant killer may take up to 2 weeks for complete ant control.
REVIEW : TERRO T334 Multi-Surface Liquid Ant Baits
- Attracts and kills the household ants you see and the ants you don’t
- Discreet, two-color design blends in with your décor
- Adhesive strips attach ant baits to walls or under cabinets
- Worker ants carry and deliver a lethal dose to the rest of the colony
- Stay-fresh twist tab keeps liquid bait fresh until opened
These bait stations offer a more discreet method for tackling ants in problem areas and come in 2 color options to match the decor. They contain a liquid bait solution that attracts and effectively kills most common household ants. The worker ants are drawn to the attractant and then carry the bait back to the colony where one by one the ants go marching to their death.
These bait stations contain adhesive strips to attach almost anywhere from flat to vertical surfaces such as walls or countertops. This offers a convenient feature with the flexibility to place bait stations safely out of reach from pets and children. The stay fresh twist tab protects the liquid bait from drying out and is easy to tear off when you’re ready to use. Place in areas near entry points as well as ant trails and other locations.
Be sure to read instructions on proper usage and safe handling. Improper placement of the bait stations could cause them to leak or not work effectively. Keep in mind each of these bait traps are suitable for use with most ant species that are attracted to sweets. For pests such as fire, Pharoah and harvester ants that prefer protein or fatty food sources they may not be effective.
One word of caution when using any kind of ant baits is to remove them once your ant infestation has been completely eradicated. Some products may recommend replacing every 3 months as a preventative but if you are no longer having problems with ants in your home it’s best to just toss them out. Here’s why- While these are great effective methods for eliminating your existing ant problem, it is not recommended for prevention. Ant baits and traps provide a food source which serves as an attractant and they can also attract other pests.
The good news is Borax is a great versatile insect killer for various types of common pests such as roaches and spiders. The bad news is once your current pest problem is under control by leaving out or continuously replacing the bait traps you are potentially leaving a welcome mat for future colonies to come in and take over. This is especially true with Argentine ants, which are commonly found in the Southern U.S. and California. They form massive colonies with multiple queens and will travel near and far to find attractive sources.
How to Get Rid of Ants Outside Your Home
It’s no fun coming across a mound of ants while working in the garden or have kids playing outdoors. Ants can pose a very bothersome problem and keep you from enjoying your yard. While not necessarily harmful to your plants, ants could also become problematic to your garden.
One area of concern on how to kill ants with Borax outside of your home is the effect it might have on your garden. Borax can also serve as an herbicide which means it could potentially kill your plants if it comes in direct contact. You can follow the above recommendations for creating a bait solution to place in containers near ant mounds to attract the worker ants. The only downside to this method is the risk to outdoor pets. If Borax is not an ideal option to get rid of ants outside your home, here are some other natural ways to get rid of ants.
These insects have a unique trait of leaving scent trails once they come across a food source. The following methods are natural ways to get rid of ants by throwing off their scent trails without posing risk to your garden or plants.
Coffee grounds – Placing coffee grounds, fresh or used, around your home will throw off the scent trails or worker ants searching for food. This can result in the worker ants not returning to their colonies with food and potentially lead to eradication of the colony. Coffee grounds can also provide beneficial nutrients to your garden’s soil.
Vinegar – Use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to repel ants from entering your home or garden. Usine a spray bottle to create your own spray mixture, use equal parts of vinegar to equal parts of water. The pungent scent is seen to repel ants along with other common pests. Shake the bottle well to combine and spray along ant trails you find on pavement and around the entrances to your home.
How to Prevent Ants
After you have found a successful solution on how to kill ants with Borax, take preventive action to keep them from coming back. Common culprits such as food stains, spills, and food preparation surfaces where traces of food may be lingering around are all sources that can draw in ants. Even the tiniest morsel is just enough for the ants to come marching in and can serve as a feast for a colony of hungry ants. They are looking for any source of food to bring back to the colony to feed the larvae and the queen, so don’t give them a good reason to stick around. Once you have successfully eliminated your ant problem there are preventative measures you should follow.
Keep a Clean Home
Be sure to keep all areas of your home clean and free of food debris. This means thoroughly wiping down areas where food is prepared and eaten. Sweep up and vacuum in hard to reach areas where crumbs can fall and hide such as behind appliances, furniture cushions and under tables and counters. Refrain from leaving dirty dishes lying around. Use a cleaner to clean the surfaces where ants have traveled once they are gone to eliminate scent trails. Pet food can also attract ants so only leave out what your pet will consume in a feeding. Empty crumbs that may remain in their bowl once they have finished eating and clean up water spills.
Use Secure Food Storage Solutions
Keep all food in closed and well-sealed containers. Keep a lid on trash cans and empty the garbage frequently as needed. For best results, store sugar and particularly sweet foods such as cookies in an airtight container rather than simply rolling the bag/package it came in to keep intruders out.
Use a Repellent
There are certain things that ants and other common household pests cannot stand. These serve as good repellents to keep them from intruding your home. Create a spray with oils or place these around your home and along entry points.
- Whole bay leaves
- Coffee grounds
- Citrus and essential oils
Inspect Your Home
In addition to food, ants will often make their way into your home in search of a water source. Routinely inspect pipes and faucets for leaks and make any necessary repairs. Replace baseboards or any wood that has become wet stays damp to eliminate potential sources for nesting. Also refrain from using wood chips as mulch in flower beds or gardens that are near your home. Seal all cracks and gaps around your home, windows, doors, and pipes with silicone or caulk.