Get Help from Bob Vila
- Give-Aways & Offers
- Monthly Must Do's
- DIY Project Ideas
- Step-by-Step Guides
- Inspirational Photo Galleries
If you see an ant or two, chances are you’ll see more—many more—especially if there’s something tasty lying around nearby. While more than 12,000 species of ants exist, only a few types are likely to invade your home. The ones that do can be a real nuisance, though, ruining food and giving homeowners the creepy-crawlies. Fortunately, you needn’t shell out for sprays, bombs, or other insecticides, since an effective homemade ant trap is simple enough to prepare with ingredients on hand or found at your pharmacy, supermarket, farm-supply store, or favorite online retailer. Check out the recipes here and read on for ways to keep their armies from invading.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Boric acid
- Corn syrup
- Small bowl
- Waxed paper
- Sealed container
- Powdered sugar
- Diatomaceous earth
HOMEMADE ANT TRAP #1: Sweet and Deadly
Most ants are attracted to sweet stuff, so this recipe is sure to lure. In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of boric acid (available over the counter at your local pharmacy) with 1/4 cup of corn syrup. Stir well to combine. Transfer a few drops of the mixture onto a small piece of waxed paper and place it where you’ve seen ant activity. Whatever ants find your bait will carry bits of the solution back to their colony. Then, you wait. Resist the temptation to kill the ants you see, as they need some time to carry the boric acid poison back to their buddies. Replace with fresh drops daily (storing unused bait at room temperature in a small sealed container for up to two weeks) and soon ants will be gone.
Note: While boric acid is considered to be of “low toxicity” to humans and animals, don’t take chances. Be safe and place this homemade ant trap and unused bait where pets and children cannot get to them.
HOMEMADE ANT TRAP #2: Shortening and Sugar
Because certain types of ants are drawn to greasy substances, the foolproof ingredient in this formula is shortening. In a small bowl or cup, mix 1 tablespoon of borax (a laundry booster related to boric acid, but milder) with 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar, and then blend in just enough shortening or lard to make the mixture crumbly (about a teaspoon).
Put crumbs of bait on pieces of waxed paper and place them near ant trails. Trails are invisible, so the way to identify them is to watch ants traveling in a straight line; early in an infestation, that unbroken line marks the trail of scent they leave for other ants. Replace crumbs daily (store leftover bait in a small sealed container or wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to two weeks), and ensure that traps and extra bait are out of reach of pets and children.
HOMEMADE ANT TRAP #3: Powdery and Natural
If you don’t have a full-blown infestation, and prefer a green method safe to sprinkle freely around kids and pets, use diatomaceous earth (DE). Though soft and powdery to the touch, the substance contains the ground-up fossils of aquatic organisms called diatoms, which on a microscopic level has sharp edges that cut into ant bodies. DE won’t wipe out a colony, but any ants that cross over the powder will dry out and perish. Purchase only food-grade DE (available at farm-supply stores and garden centers); do not use DE manufactured for swimming pool filters, because it contains added chemicals.
Sprinkle DE inside cabinets, on windowsills, around doors, and anywhere else you occasionally see ant activity. It will work indefinitely unless it gets wet. If using DE outdoors, reapply after rain.
After getting rid of an active infestation with a homemade ant trap, follow this two-part prevention program to make your home less attractive to the little buggers.
Reduce how attractive your abode is to the pests by:
• Cleaning countertops thoroughly after meals.
• Wiping up spills promptly.
• Taking garbage out of the house daily.
Repel nearby ants by:
• Putting a few drops of essential oil (try citrus, lemon, or eucalyptus) on a rag and wiping baseboards, windowsills, and exterior door casings.
• Sprinkling cayenne powder or garlic powder around doors and your home’s foundation.
• Placing a potpourri of dried mint leaves and clove buds on windowsills.