When ants invade

It’s easy to make your own ant bait if you find them gathering in your home.

For many people, the first harbinger of spring is small ants wandering in the kitchen. If you are troubled with small ants in the house, you can mix your own bait to eliminate them. Small ants are defined as any ant under one-fourth of an inch long. The secret killing ingredient is boric acid in powdered form. It can be found at pharmacies and some hardware stores. It has to be mixed with something that the ants want to eat. The bait attracts them and the boric acid kills them.

Three kinds of bait

Depending on what kind of ants are indoors, some feed on sweet foods like powdered sugar, honey, syrup or jelly. Granulated sugar is too big to mix with a powder. Others eat protein like pulverized dry cat food, which is high in protein, or peanut butter. Still other ants consume greasy foods like bacon grease or oily peanut butter.

The first step is to have an ant tasting party to find the right food. Put out a very small amount of each of the three kinds of bait in the location where you have seen the ants. Put the food samples on small pieces of waxed paper or cardboard. If they all gather around the powdered sugar, turn this into your bait. Mix a small amount of boric acid (less than half the total mixture) into the sugar. Too much makes it too bitter even for ants. Place the bait where the ants are, like along a wall. Let them eat it, take it back to share with their ant colony and in doing so, poison their ant colony.

This next piece of information may be the most difficult part of the ant bait story. When the ants gather to feed, don’t pound them flat while they are eating. Leave them alone – they should be the instruments of their own destruction. Only they know where the colony is.

Check the baits daily. Replenish often with fresh-mixed bait. If jam or jelly is used and it dries to the point that it is not sticky, the ants cannot easily pick it up. Put out less than a teaspoon of mixed bait at a time.

Eventually, one of two things will happen. The colony will be killed off or the weather outside gets warm and the remaining ants all run for the great outdoors where they would rather be. In either case, you win.

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