Cheap Home Remedy: Army Ant Invasion!

22 Apr
the red kitchen

This kitchen is no longer safe...for ants!! Muhawhahahaha....

So I do apologize about the brief absence this week. Our kitchen has been afflicted with its annual spring invasion of little black ants, which makes preparing large meals on the countertops a bit tasking.

Now that the situation is beginning to improve, I thought it might be handy to share my home “recipe” for killing off kitchen ants. I mean, it’s cheap, it’s easy, it involves “ingredients”–why not?

(Oh, and seeing as I have pets AND preschoolers, it should be noted that this method is extremely safe where they are all concerned–no random gooey cardboard tidbits of Terro lying around MY kitchen!)

First things first: When you discover ants in the kitchen (or bathroom, or wherever), the first thing you have to do is determine whether they are sugar ants or grease ants. (These are far from technical terms–it’s just what I call them based on what they’re poking around after.)

Mine turned out to be sugar ants.

The easiest way to do this is to take 2 small containers (I save those leftover plastic cough syrup dosing caps for this and other purposes), fill one with dry granulated sugar and the other with a good smearing of something fatty–bacon grease, etc.–and set them both out overnight, not far from each other.

In the morning, you should be able to tell which cap was trafficked more heavily. Now you know what to use as bait!

At this point, you can gather up all of the little caps or other containers you have and start making your magic potion. The secret ingredient is BORAX laundry booster (water softener). It contains the same boric acid as expensive ant killers, but you probably already have all you could need for a lifetime of ant invasions sitting on a shelf in your laundry room!

For grease ants, rub the greasy food material around the rim and inside the bait cup. (Don’t use hot, super-liquidy grease in large quantities, though, because Borax loses its potency as ant killer with excess moisture. Wait till the grease is room temperature and more resembling a solid.) Sprinkle a liberal amount of Borax down into the container. The ants will come for the grease, stay for the Borax (which they smell and perceive as food), carry it back to their colony (and queen!), and the rest is history.

Borax with sugar.

A recipe for Ant Genocide...

For sugar ants (what I had this time), mix equal parts granulated sugar and Borax inside the container and place containers at adequate intervals around the affected countertops or areas. If the ants are having trouble finding it at first, you can sprinkle some granules of sugar around the outside footprint of the container (straight on your counter).

Give my regards to your Queen.

Once they’ve found the outside of the mother lode, the brave-but-doomed champions will polish it off and head onward toward the container where you will throw down your enemies and smite their ruins on the side of Mount Borax…

See you in hell, ants!

Happy hunting!

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6 Responses to “Cheap Home Remedy: Army Ant Invasion!”

  1. Linda April 22, 2010 at 3:56 PM #

    At the risk of sounding like your mother, I would caution you to be just as careful of your homemade insecticide as you would with store-bought. Cleaning chemicals of any kind should never be left within the reach of children. Borax could make Jamie and Ollie sick as quickly as Terro. (I know Jamie is a picky eater, but you are mixing it with sugar and he might be tempted to try it. Especially if he saw you mix it up.)

    I always found Terro and its ilk to be mostly refreshments for the ants. They thought it was a cocktail party, and after treating them for a month with the stuff with no fewer partiers than there were in the beginning, I gave up on it and just used boric acid mixed with bacon grease AND sugar. I made the stuff into little balls about the size of dry beans and left it behind the fridge, on the countertop and every place I could think of including smearing a very small line of it on the floor where the threshhold met the flooring (not enough to slip on, of course). It worked. Planting mint beside all your doors and windows and around the foundation of your house helps bunches too. They don’t like the smell or something.

  2. Kim April 23, 2010 at 9:51 AM #

    I’m willing to give this a go! I’m tired of putting out Terro only to find those darn ants coming back in a couple of days. (I so miss the old Terro that had arsenic in it. That stuff worked overnight, and those ants didn’t come back!)

  3. Gracie April 23, 2010 at 9:56 AM #

    I think I will follow Mom’s other advice, too, and stick catmint or something in a big planter by each exterior door. Good luck!!

  4. Rheannon April 24, 2010 at 4:17 PM #

    Keith’s Aunt (not ant) swears that a line of black pepper along wherever they are coming from does the trick. Give it a whirl. Sidenote: this is the funniest post I have seen yet. See you in hell ants is a classic line. I hope you liked the lamest joke ever that I started with.

  5. Dave Spencer June 10, 2010 at 12:33 AM #

    We get large invasions of little tiny black ants in Southern Maryland every year. Nothing from the local retail vendors seems to work. I tried your solution and, while there is still a very low activity after three days, it is nothing compared to the swarms we were seeing in several places in the house. There were hundreds in several places three days ago and less than a dozen hitting the bait in each place now. I’ve cleaned nothing around the cups. Loads of dead ones and the live ones are still visiting the genocide sites. Thanks for the tip. Less than $5 spent and I have enough material to last for years.

  6. Gracie June 10, 2010 at 8:09 AM #

    Hooray! Glad to see the Borax method works in Maryland as well as it does in Illinois and Hawaii. 🙂 I’m intrigued about that black pepper thing Rhee was talking about…maybe that would take care of Dave’s/my stragglers in the ant army. Good call! (And welcome to the site, Dave!)

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