this means war

One of the not-so-awesome things about summer in the south is the never-ending parade of ants that seem to come from nowhere and take over the yard. Since I have quite a few pets, not to mention an organic garden, I’m always really hesitant to use commercial pesticides, usually resorting to a liberal application of instant grits and cinnamon to keep them in check and at bay. This year, however, the ants seemed to be gearing up for world domination. I’d manage to get rid of one pile, only to see another pop up a few feet away. I swear I could hear them snickering when I walked by.

So I did a little research and decided to try making my own ant baits out of ingredients I felt safe using in my yard. It took a little trial and error to get the mix right, but I think this last batch has been successful. Here’s how I did it:

First, you’ll need to assemble your supplies. You’ll need Borax, granulated sugar, water, some small containers with a removable lid (baby food jars are ideal for this. if you know a new mom, hit her up for a batch before she recycles them), a hammer and nail, and a spoon for measuring.


For starters, fill each jar about 1/3 of the way full with the borax. Then add the granulated sugar to fill it up to just over half. You might need to adjust this mix depending on how much of a sweet tooth your ants have. You want enough sugar to mask the taste of the borax, but not so much that there isn’t enough borax to do the job.


Once you have your dry ingredients mixed together, it’s time to add enough water to make a paste. This photo was taken during my first attempt at these, and I think I made them slightly too wet. You’re looking for something just slightly runnier than toothpaste.


Once you’re satisfied with the consistency of your mixture, it’s time to use that hammer and nail to make holes in the lids of the jars, then close them up and place them strategically around your yard (or home). If you have larger ants, be sure to make the holes big enough for them.


The idea is that the ants will find the baits and carry the tasty, but poisonous mixture back to the nest and feed it to the Queen. Once the Queen dies, so does the colony. These have actually worked better for me than anything else I’ve tried. As far as I can tell, they don’t go bad, so you can leave them out for a couple of months. Put them near enough to existing ant trails or hills that the ants find them, but not directly in their path. You can also put them inside cupboards or near pet food bowls if you have trouble inside. Just make sure your pets don’t think they are toys.

For more tips on how to use Borax i n the home, check out this post on home-made cleaning supplies:


9 thoughts on “this means war

  1. Pingback: SuperCute! » and THIS means war!!

  2. I’d recommend not putting these in your home, just because while borax is only mildly toxic, it’s still toxic. The combo of it being mixed w/ sugar is tempting to some pets (and little kids, if you have them).

    I use diatomaceous earth inside. It’s a mechanical killer, not a poison, so they just need to walk through it to die. You don’t have to trick them into eating it. Diatomaceous earth is non-toxic. It’s even a filter in beer-making and an additive to grains so that insects don’t take over. (1% volume.) Works on ants, roaches, bedbugs, spiders, anything with an exoskeleton. The fossilized diatoms nick the exoskeleton and cause the invading bug to dehydrate and die.

    • Good advice on the curious pets bit. My cats ignore them, but I have no idea what a dog or child might do.
      I’ve got diatomaceous earth in some places, but I honestly cannot stand the powder all over everything in my home. Plus, inhaling even the most accidental bit gives me quite the sore throat, and I can’t imagine it’s any better for a smaller animal. I mostly use it in the garden, to get rid of black widows.
      I guess if you want to put these inside and have kids or curious dogs, you could always hot glue the lids on? Or, just put them in inaccessible places.

  3. Thanks Lori! – I’ve got some large ants who seem to love my bean flowers, I’m not sure they are hurting the plant. They might even be pollinating them? Anyway this seems like a good way to get rid of the them. You are making me nervous about the black widow comment though, lol, are there really that many around here? Yikes.

    • Heather, we have a bunch of them in our yard. While I was moving some concrete blocks to make my garden beds, I killed 21 of them in one day. It was horrifying, but I don’t think that that is the norm. Apparently they like to nest in wood piles and concrete blocks?

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