Introduction: How to Get Rid of Ants (or) How to Kill an Ant Invasion

Picture of How to Get Rid of Ants (or) How to Kill an Ant Invasion

Ants can be nice as pets when they stay in their farm, but when they take over your living space it’s time to seek a remedy that will rid your home of them. This instructable describes the solution my dorm-mates and I successfully used against an ant invasion in our hall. It’s low-mess, takes up very little space, and will get rid of most kinds of ants, even when you don't know where they're coming from, including Carpenter, Black, Red, and Fire.

It’s also quick, easy, cheap, and safe to use across the board. (Don’t underestimate safety. There are many harsh commercial solutions out there including pastes, jelly caps, and ant boxes, but these can be dangerous for children or pets.) One of the ingredients we used, Borax, is commonly used as a natural washing detergent. Because it’s basically just soap, you don’t have to worry about damaging carpets or furniture.

Unfortunately there is a bit of post-mortem clean-up. But believe me, you won’t think of this as biological warfare when the ants come after your foodstuffs and start crawling into your bed!

Despite what you may have seen in the movies, being bitten by an ant will not give you the superpowers of Antman! Really, it’s best to get rid of them before you’re even entertaining that possibility.

Step 1: What You Will Need

Picture of What You Will Need

Here is your ant invasion shopping list:

  • A container of borax (you should be able to find this in the laundry detergent aisle)
  • Some jelly or jam (if you already have some use that, as you don't need too much; if you need to buy some get a small, cheap jar - ant's aren't picky - or something you'd want to eat with your toast)
  • Container lid(s) (soda caps work great, as would any other small, low and shallow container)
  • Mixing bowl or cup (I recommend something disposable, because you probably don't want to use it again for eating/drinking)
  • A spoon (again, something disposable is good, so...plastic)

Step 2: Preparing the Poison

Take your cup or bowl, your spoon, and the borax and jelly. You'll want the solution to consist of no more than 5% borax. So the easiest way is to take ten spoonfuls of jelly and put them in the cup/bowl. Then, you'll want half a spoonful of borax. This recipe can be extended to twenty spoonfuls jelly and one of borax, if you need that much.

Now mix it in really well! You have to be deceitful - it's poison, after all!

Step 3: Laying Out the Mines (i.e. Soda Caps)

Picture of Laying Out the Mines (i.e. Soda Caps)

Now that everything is mixed, you'll want to spoon the jelly into soda caps (like I said before, other shallow lids should work as well, but soda caps are small and easy to put out of the way so that's what we used).

You don't need to use too many - my hallmates and I just used one or two caps per room with ant problems. Don't spread them out all over the floor - you'll just step on them.

When you're done filling up the number of caps you need, place them somewhere on the floor but out of the way (obviously in a room with ants). WE put ours in the corners of rooms, behind table legs, etc.

Step 4: The Waiting Game

Picture of The Waiting Game

Now you wait.

After a day or so you may start to notice ants swarming around the caps.

The goal is to have them take the delicious poison back to their home and feed it to all their buddies. If you see a lot of ants dying around the bottle caps you might want to mix up a second batch with slightly less borax in it so it won't be an instant kill.
A few dead ants around the cap is probably to be expected, but not piles of them.

Step 5: Observe the Results + Cleanup + Warning

Picture of Observe the Results + Cleanup + Warning

After a couple days to a week you should stop seeing ants, minus a few dead ones near or in the jelly caps. With any luck the ants will have brought jelly back to their colony and have either killed them off or convinced them that your house/room is NOT a four-star restaurant.

You can now throw away the cap of jelly (eating it is not a reasonable means of disposal), sweep up the remaining dead ants, and get back to enjoying your life.

You may want to keep pets and children away from the jelly-borax caps, so that they don't accidentally consume any of it.

Step 6: Oh Snap! the Ants Came Back!

Picture of Oh Snap! the Ants Came Back!

Sometimes this happens.

Our whole dorm hall used this remedy and only one room has had a reoccurring ant problem (it is also the messiest room so cleaning, as much as it sucks, will probably aid in your war against ants). That one room has continued to use borax and jelly to take care of the ants because, while it hasn't been a permanent solution for them, it keeps the ants away for long periods of time (a month or two between invasions). But, like I said, most of us have not had ant problems again.

So, what to do if they come back?

You can remake the jelly-borax solution (if you didn't have many ants dying near the soda cap last time, try upping the borax content slightly).

You can also try some of these things that have been suggested to me (though I haven't tried them myself):

- Mop your floors with a half cup to one whole cup of borax or baking soda per gallon of hot water. Again, keep young children and pets away from this floor (this probably isn't a good solution if you have young children or wandering pets at all, because it is difficult to close off an entire floor space. But if you are sans those varmints, this could be worth a try!).

- You can draw a line/circle of white chalk or petroleum jelly (not the jelly we used previously) around a source of food for the ants or just anything that you don't want ants on. Apparently they don't like to cross the stuff. I have also heard that they don't like crossing powders in general, but I don't know...

- As should be obvious; clean your room(s), remove open food products (including dirty dishes), and take out the trash.

Here is a link to a site with more nontoxic ant solutions. I have not tried them all, but what could it hurt?

Step 7: Good Advice From Other Members:

(it's useful to not have to sort through the comments)

Dec 10, 2007. PMflactemnad says:
Borax works great for a long term kill, but when you just need the bugs to drop dead now try some of those orange oil cleaners. I dilute mine to 10% strength or less, and it drops bugs dead instantly! If you leave some of the sprayed residue on the surface ants usually avoid that too.

Dec 6, 2007. bleachworthy says:
"nicely done, i have found that a simple scented bar of soap will kill off ants quite easily. they are attracted by the scent, and the lard content, and are quickly killed off by the lye in the soap. if you lack a scented bar of soap, soak the bar of soap, and sprinkle sugar on it, then allow it to dry before use."

Dec 6, 2007. zer0vector says:
"There is a product on the market called Terro which is basically a borax/sugar syrup mix, similar to the bait built here in case you don't have the time to make your own. They claim it's safe for pets:

Pets occasionally find the Terro and eat it. Our advice when this happens
is to do nothing at all. The product is not toxic enough to cause a problem and the pet will be just fine.

Anyhow, it works well, check your hardware store if you want to find some."

Dec 5, 2007. scoleman says:
"I'm sure this will work in the short run. To make a long term solution you need to look for and remove their source of water. Almost all infestations are because there is a water source to sustain the colony within the house/dorm itself. Occasional ants will come indoors, and if they find water, they move in. Check you roof, siding, window frames for leakage as well as any old plumbing that may be leaking down to the foundation. It doesn't take much water to make a whole colony happy. Thanks for the tutorial on making our own ant bait!"

Dec 5, 2007. thomasedisonjr reminds us that due to the caustic nature of borax, to look for other solutions if there is the possibility of a pet or small child eating this borax-jelly mixture.

thanks guys!

Step 8: Success!

Picture of Success!

Hopefully all of this has helped and you wont be living in the trenches of the human-ant battlegrounds any more.


RobertO139 (author)2017-07-05

Use a 50/50 mixture of Boric Acid and powdered sugar for indoor ants.

jim dellow (author)2016-09-02

White vinegar doesn't work. I emptied the cupboards & sponged wv liberally all over. Made no difference. Why do they keep walking around in the crockery cupboard. It is spotlessly clean nothing there for them.

MakerIan (author)2016-08-19

I was looking if this ible was done already you have done a pretty thorough job.

A few additions, not all ants are sugar ants and sometimes you need to mix this poison with something like dry cat food. My cats have never bothered the cat food sugar syrup mix, and if they did the worst it will do is give them a little diarrhea.

I make 1 cup (225ml) simple syrup and 1 tablespoon borax (14ml)

The mix will dry and harden pretty easily, mixing it with a little glycerin will keep it liquid enough for the intended targets to still eat.

The best place to place bait is as close to the source of the ants as possible, they use chemtrails to indicate where food is so they travel in lines. 1 side of a line of ants tends to be fat with liquid or carrying bits of food, follow that to the wall or where ever it goes, place the bait there for best effect.

chrisbrl88 (author)2016-08-16

Step 1: mix some borax into some cheap pancake syrup.
Step 2: put drops of poisoned syrup all along ant trails.
Step 3: watch the ants carry their poison payload back to the nest.
Step 4: marvel in Man's mastery over nature while the ants dit. ZX

threefires (author)2015-08-21

Use a product called Seven.

jimvandamme (author)threefires2015-10-03

Sevin, the insecticide. Nasty stuff, but effective.

jakgraphic (author)jimvandamme2016-08-15

Sevin, is "nasty stuff" indeed,

threefires (author)jimvandamme2015-10-03

Point taken. Yes it's not spelled like the number.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-04-22

I had had lots of ant problems and I have been testing my own pesticides on them.

Here are the following natural ones.

Tree tea oil mixed with ethanol and sugar.

Baking soda solution.

Hot pepper extract (hot peppers with citrate salts (Preservatives) + sugars.

Nutmeg and sugar. Boiled in ethanol.

I was even thinking of trying the cherry leaves to extract low levels 10-15 mg cyanide from the leaves. However this is NOT enviromentally friendly and dangerous so I did not do it.

omayozas (author)2016-04-01

O thanks. Bt I thought there should be a powder I can put on their tracks. What to do pls av got a crawling baby

joseph-pest-controller (author)2016-03-28

Instead of jam or jelly you could also use maple syrup. Basically, anything with lots of sugar in it because ants love sugar.

sandrak320 (author)2015-12-31

If you know where they are coming out of the ground, I heard that a 2-liter of soda poured down into the nest will asphyxiate the colony. My have to repeat at least once.

TeresaM7 (author)2015-09-06

Bait is set. Now I wait. Update will be forthcoming. Damned ants :(

aweaver4 (author)2015-08-24

Acephate is the best ant killer, but only for outside because it stinks like sewer. One teaspoon over a huge mound, it's gone the next day. If your dorm stinks anyway, sprinkle it around the baseboards. Acephate is available at the feed store :D

jeanniel1 (author)2015-08-21

Terro is similar, but it's good to know how to DIY it! Very good 'ible - esp coming from college students dealing with real life pests!

timastone (author)2015-08-20

white vinegar will also get rid of them

Spl1nt3rC3ll (author)2007-12-08

This one time I swear I had an empire of super ants in my garden. I think it was because they took over five bags of firtilizer. They were relentless:

Day 1.
Destroyed their bag with machette and sprayed with high power hose.

Day 2.
Day 1 had no effect. More hosing

Day 3.
Flooded with ant poison, ant traps all around.

Day 6.
Poison had no effect what-so-ever. Tried several more brands, had no effect.

Day 7.
Blowtorched the bag and all ants defending, piles of scorched bodies. I got bitten too :(

Day 8.
All the bodies are gone. More torching.

Day 9.
I come up to the place and witness an ant war. Two rival colonies clashing in an epic battle. It reminded me of Lord of the Rings defending Ministerith (The white city/castle). It was awsome.

Day 10.
Flooded the entire thing with a hose and torched the ants that were comming out. Hundreds of thousands of wet, scorched corpses around the battle ground. I continued untill no more came out.

(BTW I didn't just set the bag on fire because it is in my garden)

Day 11.
They were still there!
Gave up, there was nothing more I could do.

These ants were probably like the Romans. They had a massive empire. They were also, I swear, mutated in some way that they were immune to all poisons.

See my post on Diatomaceous Earth (DT.) You can get it at any building supply/garden store, and is the only thing that works, but you have to work **at** it.

JamesF24 (author)Spl1nt3rC3ll2015-08-19

On Youtube I found a video where the guy pours molten aluminum into the ant colony. Then he digs it up afterwards. Interesting ant colony art. Secondary benefit: no more ants from that colony. :)

ReCreate (author)Spl1nt3rC3ll2009-06-30

Try Spilling Gasoline into their mount, and make sure it gets absorbed really well, Then Light it!

tbird45039 (author)ReCreate2009-06-30

gasoline on fertilizer is a bad idea it adds up to anfo - ammonium nitrate fuel oil. remember the oklahoma city bombing

Gary Viveiros (author)tbird450392015-08-18

My crazy cousin Kalani invited us to see a detonation of a fuel/fertilizer bomb but it only turned into a stink-bomb. We asked him where he got ammonium nitrate from, and he said, "What's ammonium nitrate?" "I used steer manure."

Gadget93 (author)tbird450392015-08-17

Amfo is made with other ingredients than gasoline and is detonated by a primary explosive rather than simply burning. Not that gasoline in fertilizer isn't terribly dangerous in itself.

rustyfox (author)tbird450392015-08-16

I'm restricted by the 'be nice' policy!

FUEL OIL - that's diesel, not gasoline. And 'fertilizer' is a vague term for any number of substances from horse manure to many pure chemicals. Ammonium nitrate is one specific fertilizer. Too much horse manure in your comment...

billbillt (author)tbird450392015-08-16

No, it takes motor oil or diesel...

Pazzerz (author)tbird450392009-07-01

Its motor oil, not gasoline. And you still need a blasting cap to set it off.

M4industries (author)Pazzerz2009-07-01

Sometimes, a #8 cap wont work. You need a primer charge to set it off like a quarter stick of TNT.

Pazzerz (author)M4industries2009-07-01

Which is what they do when they blow off the side of a mountain for mining. Good point.

Boomer1 (author)Pazzerz2015-08-16

Gasoline on ammonium nitrate will result in a very hot fast & fire as the ammonium nitrate is an oxidizer and creates it's own oxygen supply. It will explode if contained or subjected to shock. The Texas City blast in 1947 was a container ship that caught fire, too much heat in that confined space and it went critical. a small nuke.

RoboBro (author)Pazzerz2015-04-20

this is getting intense!!!

fwjs28 (author)tbird450392009-06-30


ReCreate (author)Spl1nt3rC3ll2009-03-13

next try...radioactivity...uranium!

thepelton (author)ReCreate2009-06-30

I am not sure that would work. I heard of a beehive on a nuclear reactor, and that cockroaches don't seem to be affected by radioactivity. Insects may be immune from all but the most intense radioactivity.

ReCreate (author)thepelton2009-06-30

Oh well...:P

dark sponge (author)ReCreate2009-06-30

No, they did that on Mythbusters. The radioactivity can kill them!

Gadget93 (author)dark sponge2015-08-17

Exactly! I saw that episode.

ReCreate (author)dark sponge2009-06-30

At like 100,000 Radioactivity whatever-s ...

dark sponge (author)ReCreate2009-06-30

Do you mean rads?

ReCreate (author)dark sponge2009-06-30

Yes! That's what it was...100,000 rads!

thepelton (author)ReCreate2009-07-01

I thought the term was Roentgens.

Pazzerz (author)thepelton2009-07-01

Roentgens has been 'replaced' with RADs. More 'scientifically' accurate...maybe...

ReCreate (author)thepelton2009-07-01


thepelton (author)dark sponge2009-07-01

Oh well... 8>P kind of expensive and dangerous.

sharlston (author)thepelton2009-08-21

scorpions are immune to radioativity aswell

micahd02 (author)sharlston2015-08-17

Well. Off topic, but there went the premise of one of my childhood-favorite monster movies, with giant scorpions made so by radioactive waste ingestion. (BTW, yes, I am a child of the 50's, who never even SAW a TV until around 63 or so. And then only one channel, black and white, and, WOW, what cool Saturday afternoon monster movies!

But, scorpions are immune, huh? Well, at least no more nightmares for my grand-daughters!

Pazzerz (author)ReCreate2009-07-01

Yeah! Like glowing blue cobalt! It'll kill anything!

thermoelectric (author)Pazzerz2009-07-02

Including you :-P

ReCreate (author)Pazzerz2009-07-01

Yeah, lol

Maybe they weren't ants. Did you ever read "Sandkings" or see the Outer Limits episode of the adaptation? Your description of them sounds just like the Sandkings. Scaaary little beasts! Better get out, or they'll eat you. Muahahaha!

If you can ever find the nest - Boiling water or Boiling Oil. BUT DO NOT MIX.

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