Introduction: How to Get Rid of Ants (Outdoor Version)

Picture of How to Get Rid of Ants (Outdoor Version)

This is a modified version of this link. I do not claim this as my original version, but this is how I made mine so I could put them outdoors where my ant problem is/was.

Safety Note! This is very important, so I ask that you please pay attention to this before performing this Instructable. Borax, while used in many things as a helpful additive is a very nasty poison. This instructable assumes that because you now know this you will conduct yourself accordingly. I did some research and have found that one spoonful of this stuff *will* kill you. Half a spoonful is enough to kill a child or small fuzzy animal. So I ask that you please be responsible while making this instructable and keep track of what else is eating it. If you make some Borax Jelly and eat all of it, I am not responsible. After all, the box tells you not to, and I've advised against it so you're on your own if you keep reading!

On a better note....

Update: Rained all day and jelly stayed where it should have! But I do not know if the solution was diluted or not. Will keep this updated as things go by.

Step 1: What You Will Need

Picture of What You Will Need

The materials for this project are easy to come by, and can be bought or obtained for free.

You will need:
1x Box of Borax
1x Jar of cheap Jam/Jelly/Preserves
1x Empty water bottle. (Mine was a 1litre water bottle)
1x Plastic Spoon
1x Hammer
1x Sharp knife or Scissors
4x Roofing Nails
4x Bottle caps

Safety stuff:
Goggles, chemical gloves, working gloves.

Step 2: Dispensers of Ant Death!

Picture of Dispensers of Ant Death!

For this step, you are going to be creating the ground anchor of the ant baits.

This part is simple, but can be frustrating if you don't get it quite right. What you are going to do is put the nails through the center of the bottle caps. Your finished product will vaguely resemble a wine glass.

First, place the bottle cap open side down on a hard surface. Using your hammer, gently hammer one nail into the center of the cap. When you have created a hole, rotate the nail in a circular fashion to slightly enlarge the hole. Remove the nail, and turn the cap over to insert the nail into the open side. Your ant bait device should resemble one of the pictures below.

Note: Some bottle caps are fragile and will crack rather than bend. Dont use these as they are frustrating.

Step 3: Create Borax Jelly Mixing Station.

I took the pictures after I made my disposable bowl. Basically, I used the bottom portion of a water bottle (rather than use a house bowl, or buy disposable ones! Yay Green!)

I'm sure you can figure out how to do this part, so I won't bore you with pictures and instructions. Just be careful if you're using a knife, and cut away from you!!

Step 4: Prepare the Ant Bait!

Picture of Prepare the Ant Bait!

For this, I followed the instructions off of this instructables *parent*, which said to create a 5% solution of jelly to borax.

"Safety! This is when you should put on your goggles and chem gloves!"

For me, 10 spoonfuls of jelly was too much, but I did it anyway to aid in simplicity. I then did about half a spoonful of borax and stirred it in very well.

Step 5: Fill and Deploy Ant Baits!

Picture of Fill and Deploy Ant Baits!

This is the easy part. Next, you need to take hold of one of your baits, and add a spoonful of 'Borax Jelly' to it slowly (you don't want this stuff on your hands/shirt). I found that gently rotating the bait holder while the jelly slid into it helped it even out.

For one of these pictures, there is a small hole in the workspace that I put the nail through to keep it in place while I took the picture. I didn't remove the nail! :)

When you have made your baits, venture into your yard and find the dwellings of your enemy and deploy your chemical warfare! (Hold the side of the bait, and push the nail into the ground. If your earth is tough, I used a small stick to hold the nail in the center and pushed.)

Update: These do survive huge winds! However, it rained for about 5 hours and I dont think the jelly solution survived. The jelly is still there though.

Update #2: These ants dont like strawberry jelly at all. So my next trick is some maple syrup mixed with Borax. I'll let you know how that does. If it's a major improvement I'll change this instructable up quite a bit!

Step 6: Waiting Time.

And now you get to wait. The first 24 hours you might not see much. If you did too much borax, you'll notice a bunch of dead ants at the jelly site, and none elsewhere. If that happens, make another batch with less borax.

If the wind or rain destroy my baits, I will let you know for sure. I have already thought of a way to keep the rain off of it should it become an issue.

Also, this is my first instructable. Please let me know what you thought of it. To the parent of the indoor version, I thank you for creating a simple way to get rid of these buggers!


james.l.stephens.33 (author)2015-05-06

if anyone is still reading this, here is a nice ant treat. we have brown and red fire ants and they seem to like peanut butter. i mix it with a little powdered boric acid (for the roaches) when i find them trying to get into the house. put near their trail and left undisturbed, they carry it off. first there are many and over the days fewer and fewer come to eat until all the ants or all the peanut butter is gone. for the sweet loving ants i use a little honey and get the same results.

This is an amazing idea! Thank you for providing your tip! I've actually got an ant problem again and need to give this a try.

results will be slow but steady, after a few days the numbers of ants visiting the bait will decrease noticeably. protect the baits from pets and children and refill as needed.

admin (author)2008-04-01

This is a great Instructable, but you need to add a main image of the final project to the intro step. Please do that and leave me a message when you have so that we can publish your work. Thanks!

Maur Maur (author)2015-06-08

I have had 100% luck every year, when I mix 1/4 cup of water, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 TABLESPOON of boric acid. I mix all 3 ingredients in a microwave jar (I just use a bowl that I can either throw away, or wash and disinfect it fully). So then mix it all together, and then place it in the microwave oven until it is warm. About 35 to 40 seconds. Once I take it out, I mix it really well again.
Then i get a handful of cotton balls, and saturate each one in the mixture, then place each saturated cotton ball onto a piece of wax paper....or I use plastic pop or water lids and place the cotton in there.
I place the wax papers in several spots.... obviously, definitely near the area that seems to be more action. Within seconds, the ants are running to it. They work and gather their food to bring back to the colony and the queen, and..... well, the rest is history. THE KEY IS TO USE THE EXACT AMOUNTS OF INGREDIENTS THAT I LISTED, because if there is too much boric acid, then the ants will die, before getting a chance to distribute it to the colony.
This formula homemade poison has worked wonders for me, year after year. It has never not worked... and in my experience with it, the ants have never returned until the next Spring season. Ive never had to do it twice.
Last year, it worked so fast, that after only 5 hours, the ants were gone!
As we speak, i have set out my remedy this am. I think i had a lot of the ants at one time today, because it rained last night and today. If I remember correctly, thats when the ants would really appear in my home.
There were so many this am, so I immediately mixed up my batch, and set out the traps. They are still eating on it this evening, but activity has slowed down THANK GOD! I cannot stand any bugs....and refuse to live with them..... so in my experience, just letting anyone know that i have had extreme success with the boric acid recipe! Good luck! Hope it works for ya!

BR13 (author)Maur Maur2016-06-27

If your having such luck with your recipe, why do you have to use it every year to do the same thing over and over? If it worked correctly, the ants would be gone forever pretty much and that would be the end of it.

LeslieJ17 (author)BR132016-07-02

New queen ants are like queen bees - they mature and take part of the colony with them to make their own nest - thus you might destroy all of them in your yard, but the next spring when the new queen ants leave the nest in the empty lot down the street - they move into your nice empty yard and you start over.

Hope this helps!

dmatthews6 (author)2015-12-22

I use 1T boric acid 8T sugar in a jar of approx 16oz of water. shake till mixed. pour into small covered containers from hummus with a smallrock on top to secure the lid and a twig inserted under lid to hold them open a crack. and to climb up on. Some ants an pill bugs die inside some bring it back home . best in shade check biweekly or check more often for drying out if in sun.

Safety FYI:

What are some signs and symptoms from a brief exposure to boric
Boric acid is low in toxicity if eaten or if it contacts skin. However, in the form of borax, it can be corrosive to the eye. Borax can also be irritating to the skin. People who have eaten boric acid have had nausea, vomiting, stomach
aches, and diarrhea. Diarrhea and vomit may have a blue-green color. Eating extreme amounts has resulted in a red, “boiled lobster” like skin rash, followed by skin loss. People who breathed in borax had a dry mouth, nose, and throat.
Coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath, and nose bleeds have also been reported. Infants are more sensitive topesticide exposures. Some infants that ate large amounts of boric acid also had nervous system effects. These include
abnormal postures, convulsions, confusion, and coma.

Boric acid affects animals in a similar way. If eaten, signs of poisoning in animals can start within 2 hours. See the factsheet on Pets and Pesticide Use for more information.

What happens to boric acid when it enters the body
Boric acid can absorb rapidly into the body if eaten. It is absorbed poorly by skin contact unless the skin is damaged. Studies with workers and rats showed that boric acid can also be absorbed if inhaled. However, it is not clear how
much is directly absorbed in the lungs and how much is cleared from the lungs and swallowed. Once inside, boric acid generally moves evenly throughout the body. However, it can be stored in bone and is generally found at lower
levels in fatty tissues. There is no evidence that boric acid is broken down in the body. The majority of boric acid in the body is eliminated in the urine within four days.
(national pesticide information center) 1-800-858-7378.

bowmaster (author)2008-05-17

How to get rid of ants in one word: Flamethrower.

Cocachee (author)bowmaster2015-02-07 for me!

diegolay (author)bowmaster2009-05-15

or put some gasoline in and near the ants nest, then throw inside a lighted up match

lilykoart (author)bowmaster2009-04-27

only if you can reach the queen :) otherwise you get only the worker ants.

bowmaster (author)lilykoart2009-04-27

It heats up the ground enough to kill it even if you don't actually burn it.

Brndoo (author)2014-08-16

If you mix sugar & yeast (one for one) and place outside near where they're coming in it will kill them and won't hurt anything else that might eat the mixture.

ColeD (author)2014-08-07

I did some research and have found that one spoonful of this stuff *will* kill you.

You eat Boron every day, it is in salt water, bones, most processed food, hand lotion, hair products, cleaning products ect. The 20 mule team comes from Boron, California at he safest mine in the United States, it doesn't absorb through skin and you would have to inhale so much of it you would probably die from suffocation at that point anyhow. Borax is a natural mineral derived from a natural salt. You are confusing borax with boric acid, they are not the same. You can make boric acid with hydrochloric acid mixed 1 part per 4 parts of borax. It is deadly to animals if they consume about a cup full on average, a human would have to intake almost an entire bag to reach lethal amounts. When you research, use google scholar not , that's insane. People who write these blogs always use that. Secondly , borax isn't really that effective against red ants, you literally have to dig in their mound and pour large amounts of it in. You are better off using boiling water. You can read that baking soda works, that ants have a natural acidic cover to their bodies but that not true either. Get a single ant and put him in a pan of baking powder and see how long it takes him to die. Just as long as the ant in an empty bottle. The truth is there are few 'natural' ways to kill ants at the mound that do not involve fire, poison, or some sort of extreme heat/cold treatment. Corn meal isn't it either, Equal +peanut butter mixed with vinegar does work...the issue is ants hate vinegar...water and equal does not work nearly as well. Anyhow, Borax is not deadly, its a level toxin...what else is level 1? Salt for one....

Brujita Kitty in TX (author)2013-09-04

inside the house i use lysol spray it kills them & stops the trail

bthorne1 (author)2011-03-27

I just throw corn meal down on //near ant hill or openings and they are killed off and no other ill effects. Much safer for other animals.

Birdy Jane (author)2010-05-05

 I've read that ants loosely fall into one of two categories: they are either 'sugar ants' or 'grease ants. A sugar ant will go for your jelly or syrup or any sweet substance, while the grease ant is attracted to the savory.
I've read that in many places so it must be true. It must also be true that the ants at my house are a rare or even unique species as they are utterly inconsistent in their tastes. They seem to be attracted to anything that might piss me off.
A few years back I bought pure borax. I meant business. But I chickened out from using it, the warnings, like yours, were just too scary for me. The bottle still sits on the highest shelf in my laundry room.
I've come to realize that as long as I have a maple tree with aphids, I'll have ants (they actually nurse, or farm the aphid stock to keep themselves in aphid honey) I just don't get why they won't build their nest(s) in or under the tree instead of under my siding.

Galonii (author)Birdy Jane2010-08-07

i use tuna oil, the oil you drain from your can of tuna before eating it

The Dark Ninja (author)Galonii2010-08-08

That's an interesting idea! I think I'll try that on these buggers!

LOL! I totally agree. Even after we continue to wage war against them they continue to invade my house some how. Not as bad as they used to be, but still have the occasional visitor. GRRRRRR

WolfWoof20 (author)2010-07-18

From Wikipedia:

Based on mammalian median lethal dose (LD50) rating of 2,660 mg/kg body mass, boric acid is poisonous if taken internally or inhaled in large quantities. However, it is generally considered to be not much more toxic than table salt.[4] The Thirteenth Edition of the Merck Index indicates that the LD50 of boric acid is 5.14 g/kg for oral dosages given to rats, and that 5 to 20 g/kg has produced death in adult humans. The LD50 of sodium chloride is reported to be 3.75 g/kg in rats according to the Merck Index. Long term exposure to boric acid may be of more concern, causing kidney damage and eventually kidney failure (see links below). Although it does not appear to be carcinogenic, studies in dogs have reported testicular atrophy after exposure to 32 mg/kg bw/day for 90 days. This level is far lower than the LD50.[5] According to boric acid IUCLID Dataset published by the European Commission, boric acid in high doses shows significant developmental toxicity and teratogenicity in rabbit, rat, and mouse fetuses as well as cardiovascular defects, skeletal variations, mild kidney lesions.[6] As a consequence, in August 2008, in the 30th ATP to EU directive 67/548/EEC, the EC decided to amend its classification as reprotoxic category 2 and to apply the risk phrases R60 (may impair fertility) and R61 (may cause harm to the unborn child).[7][8][9][10][11]

WolfWoof20 (author)WolfWoof202010-07-18

Just to make sure you all read that...:

Long term exposure to boric acid may be of more concern, causing kidney damage and eventually kidney failure (see links below). Although it does not appear to be carcinogenic, studies in dogs have reported testicular atrophy after exposure to 32 mg/kg bw/day for 90 days. This level is far lower than the LD50.[5]

So yea, maybe not that bad, buy do have a care! It seems it can have some adverse health effects long before death.

REA (author)2009-08-26

is that a picture of a Trojan ant?! i dont think that old plan will work on them.

The Dark Ninja (author)REA2009-08-27

Why, yes it is! And you're right, the old plan didn't work on them. They're the real reason Rome burned...

akayaker (author)2009-07-14

Actually i like the photo where you have the nail half way through the cap. If you use a longer nail the upper half would provide a nice little handle to push them into the ground with. This would eliminate your need for a stick (step 5) to push the baits into hard earth.

The Dark Ninja (author)akayaker2009-07-14

That's a really good idea actually!! Thanks for the tip. This year we dont have much of an outdoor ant problem, but I'll remember this if I have to create my baits again. Thanks!

rusty13jr (author)2008-04-01

HOLY 1337 ANT KILLER!....too bad your 1336 <()>

MozonTheGreat (author)rusty13jr2009-04-29

OMG!! Deadly Ants

The Dark Ninja (author)rusty13jr2008-04-01

Lol thanks man. Speaking of 1337, I thinking of starting a website along the lines of "My [insert noun here] is more 1337 than you!" Like we did for the "My ping is more 1337 than you"... anyways, thats off topic. :o)

merijnvw (author)2009-04-17

Borax isn't that poisonous, the the highest dosis for a 80 kilogram person is 400 gram, so kitchen salt is more poisonous.

Puffin Stuff (author)2008-05-04

wow, i dont know where your info is coming from, borax will not kill u or small animals or children w/ the amount you are talking about.. i have been consuming 1/8th teaspoon of borax diluted in a quart of water.. actually i use green tea.. and i consume more water thru the day etc.. for the last 3 years.. my skin is healthy, my hair is soft, my feet are fungus free, and my digestion at age 42 is that of a 17 yr old.. i eat hot peppers, cucumbers, onions etc on a regular basis w/ no heart burn what so ever..borax is in bath crystals, edible plant pesticides, eye drops and various other things that a simple google search would illuminate you to.. also see this website
and expand your horizons..

Borat (author)Puffin Stuff2008-10-16

Do you use 20 Mule Team or pure borax?

The Dark Ninja (author)Borat2008-10-16

20 Mule Team, is there a big difference?

Borat (author)The Dark Ninja2008-10-16

I asked because on that link you posted some people reference pharmaceutical-grade, pure borax. I have the 20 Mule and it says "not for drug use" apparently because it also contains surfactants and other laundering aids. I guess in these concentrations they don't harm you, though. Thanks again for the great tip.

wocket (author)2008-04-02

beware of pets, wildlife and small children eating this stuff. Borax works by causing a solid blockage in the digestive tract and is a very painful and slow death.

The Dark Ninja (author)wocket2008-04-03

Thanks for a good note! Safety is always important. But, the solution is so diluted the chances of death occurring in a pet or child is slim to none. Unless they ate my entire batch of Borax Jelly I don't think it will cause them any harm. If there are any doctors/scientists/chemists/vets out there I would be interested to know just how much Borax it takes to kill a human, cat, or dog. That way I can quell the fears of my readers. (The box does say do not intentionally eat it...)

wocket (author)The Dark Ninja2008-04-04

it takes just half a teaspoon to kill a human, so much less for small fluffy creatures.

The Dark Ninja (author)wocket2008-04-05

Woah, thats not very much! Do you have a link to the source you got that information from?

wocket (author)The Dark Ninja2008-04-05

Not a link but I used to layout info from a medical research facility before the papers went into the general public and I remember reading it there. Scary stuff.

The Dark Ninja (author)wocket2008-04-06

Thanks again for your contribution. I did some googling and found that 1 teaspoon is enough to kill an adult, and that half a teaspoon will kill a child/small fuzzy animal. I was not aware that this stuff was so bad. Oh! I did find out that it is used as a food additive in France! I was like OMG!!!

mce128 (author)The Dark Ninja2008-06-21

Well this is scary then... (from Wikipedia) Food additive Borax is used as a food additive in some countries with the E number E285, but is banned in the United States. Its use is similar to common table salt, and it appears in French and Iranian caviar.

bowmaster (author)The Dark Ninja2008-05-17

Ninja never type the last phrase replacer you typed. They type YWDTBMH (You Will Die Tomarrow By My Hands)

Stopher (author)The Dark Ninja2008-04-30

I'm going to have to disagree with any person that says half a teaspoon is as heinously toxic like botulinum. I mistook borax for non dairy creamer in college (the pure stuff for killing roaches). I drank several table spoons and it would just not mellow the taste of the coffee so I added more. After two days of the runs, I told my room mate that his creamer had gone bad. He informed me he had no creamer, but did have one of the huge wal-mart containers of borax for killing roaches under the sink with the other poisons. I called poison control and they said it was usually only a problem with children and that was the cause of the runs. They said it was not so toxic as to get too excited. I'd have had to eaten cups and did not need to go to the hospital. Perhaps you are thinking of BORON instead of the compound Borax. I'd have to look up the properties of each in the chem hazard book at work to give a real definitive answer. Remember SALT carries tons of crazy warnings about how it can elevate blood pressure and irritate wounds and sting mucus membranes and dry / irritate skin. Some of the warnings are just silly and hard to get a real idea about.. Borax is not very toxic to humans except for children.

wocket (author)Stopher2008-05-01

I just confirmed with my researcher friend at Qld Medical Institute and they confirmed that it is quite dangerous... mostly for causing blockages in the gut. So you still need to be careful of pets, wild animals, children and ..well..anyone. :) Stopher, I guess we'll just agree to disagree.

Grey_Wolfe (author)2008-05-25

I might suggest that you place several small (half teaspoon, maybe) samples of foodstuffs (sans borax) in a location that is readily noticable to your ants. See which ones they respond to best and then alternate your bates between these items. Hope this helps. At least it would save you the trouble of making poisons that don't work.

JeremyA (author)2008-05-14

If you see the ant hills in your yard all you have to do is poor boiling water down them and that should take care of it. If needed repeat the steps more than once or every so often when you find a new one. I imagine it is a pretty terrible way to die but that is your choice.

Estwald (author)2008-04-17

If you're beset with only the brittle type of caps drill the hole in the cap instead of punching it with a nail. -Ray-

The Dark Ninja (author)Estwald2008-04-18

Thats something I didnt think about! Thanks for the idea!

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