Introduction: Kill Household Ants - Super Cheaply

Picture of Kill Household Ants - Super Cheaply

On a budget? Got an ant problem? Do not fear, 'cause Domesticated Man and his sidekick Handy Hand have the answer for getting rid of those pesky ants!

Now, the D Man is not impressed with the performance of the commercial anttrap he purchased. It looks neat, but the ants do not seem to appreciate appearances.

The homemade bait on the that is going down well.

Note: This instructable applies only to those tiny little black ants, ths ones that love sweet stuff and swimming in your coffee cup! Domesticated Man must first overcome his fear of bigger ants.

Step 1: Get a Base for Your Anttrap

Picture of Get a Base for Your Anttrap

First, you need a thin base for the anttrap. A lot of commercial anttraps make it hard for the little guys to make the jump from being alive to being dead, so pick something that will lie flat and flush with your floor or whatever surface you place it on.
Handy Hand is using a cut-out piece of plastic from a blister pack (inspired, of course, by Domesticated Man)!

Step 2: Borax Power for Dead Ants

Picture of Borax Power for Dead Ants

The active ingredient here is good ol' fashioned Borax. You can get this useful poison from your supermarket, Hardware store or senile Grandmother.

Why Borax? Well it's slow acting, so the ants will gobble their fill, and then take it back to the nest. And feed it to their Queen and all the unsuspecting citizens of Ant Central.

Oh no! Domesticated Man did not read the warning label, and ingested the Borax! Will he recover in time to stop the ant invasion?!

Note: If you feel bad about killing ants, just tell yourself that you will be destroying an oppressive and Totalitarian government, and ending the suffering of hundreds of enslaved and brainwashed footsoldiers.

Step 3: Syruppy Death

Picture of Syruppy Death

Now, we need something the dear little ants will carry home to mommy. After serious investigation, Domesticated Man deduced that the ants in his kitchen like Golden Syrup the most. Honey or any other sweet syrup could also work.

Remember that ants, just like ordinary humans and super-type-people like Domesticated Man, have their own eating habits.

Have a look at what's popular for your ants. Why should they die unhappy?

Step 4: Slap It Together

Picture of Slap It Together

Now, you want to get the proportions right: Too much Borax, and the ants will become suspicious and eat somewhere else. Too little and you will have very well fed, energetic and happy ants. Not good.

Go for about two thirds Borax to one unit of your syrup. So, if it's a teaspoon syrup, use two thirds of a teaspoon Borax.

Before losing consciousness, Domesticated Man gave Handy Hand a disposable piece of plastic to mix the syrup and Borax. 'Cause while Polymers are forever, good sidekicks are hard to replace.

Mix it really well. The Borax won't dissolve completely, but that's OK. We blame science, not you.

Step 5: Placing the Bait

Picture of Placing the Bait

Right. You have mixed the Borax and syrup. Now, where to put it?

Watch your ants for a bit. You will see that they follow a trail, or maybe even more than one trail. You want to put the bait right where they will run into it, so a bit of patience will be rewarded.

Also, this stuff will not be good for your pets or kids. So put it somewhere out of reach of toddlers or dogs or parrots or cats or toads or lizards or drunken grownups.

If the base you used (in this case the plastic) lifts from the floor or kitchen top or wherever you put it, carefully spread a little of the mixture over the edge, so the tiny little ants can easily eat the poison and die. Do not use your finger.

Step 6: Don't Celebrate Too Early

Picture of Don't Celebrate Too Early

Now, poisoning a colony of hard-working and selfless creatures takes persistence. Although you may see a lot less ants around after a few days of eating the bait you made, don't stop just yet.

Domesticated man recommends keeping it up for at least two weeks, making a new batch of bait when the old one is either eaten up or simply has been standing there for more than a week.

Remember, they may be small, but they ain't stupid. We have had ants simply go party somewhere else for a while, only to come back and mess up the joint when they thought the coast was clear.

And don't give them reason to go where they're not wanted! Clean your kitchen daily, and don't leave food out at night.


sahb68 (author)2015-07-07

What do I add to the peanut butter if I live in England as I can't get any borax here plse?

PattyP17 (author)sahb682017-09-25

Borax may be called "washing powder", a laundry additive. Oldest brand in the USA is Borateem. Boric acid is available in drugstores (chemist in the UK?). It has a great nuber of uses, including mixing weak solutions as an eye wash. It is alsp available on Amazon. Here are the search results for boric acid on Amazon's UK site:

Hope that helps!

Katzsta (author)sahb682016-07-16

Hopefully, by now, your ants are gone or you have actually moved and left your living quarters to them. An alternative for borax is boric acid. Boric acid is especially great for cockroaches. They both work on the same principle. Check your pharmacy for boric acid or a chemical supply store. We have 20 Mule Team Borax laundry detergent additive here, so you might want to check your laundry aisle of your grocery store. Both of them work. I have currently set up a catch and release program on my window sills, between the window and the window screen, I set a 7 day medicine holder filled with borax, sugar, jelly and water. This way I can lure them to that before they actually make it in the house and I can see if it's working and it keeps it away from kids and pets. My fingers are crossed.

lordkrome (author)2016-10-04

nice n funny story about domesticated man... lol...

compass431 (author)2016-06-29

I love this! Hilarious!

BLASTFEMI (author)2008-04-16

You can also use powdered sugar and borax. If you have protein seeking ants, use 1/2 borax, 1/2 peanut butter. Put it in an old jar with a lid and poke some holes in the lid, lay it on it's side and Bon Appetit. It really does work.

Zalina (author)BLASTFEMI2008-04-17

Mice just love peanut butter (more than cheese); so make sure there's no mouse access to your house or You'll have even bigger problems than ants!

bir006 (author)Zalina2008-04-17

Not if you're adding Borax to the peanut butter! Then you'll just have a dead mouse problem (stinky!).

FriedaG (author)bir0062016-05-16

Borax does not harm mice though...

Zalina (author)bir0062008-04-21

Really???? Will Borax actually kill mice as well as ants?

snabs (author)Zalina2014-06-13

Borax will not only kill mice, it kills rats, too. My mother worked at U.S. Borax in Wilmington, CA. The factory floor is flooded with boric acid 24hrs a day, and there are no rats or mice. There are no cockroaches, ants, spiders, flies, mosquitoes or anything that creeps, crawls or stings. Borax employees laugh at Raid and other pesticides. The best thing is that boric acid is non-toxic. Well that's the official position of the company. Although some doctors say it's harmful to kidneys. I don't know. My mother has sacks of 100% pure, laboratory grade boric acid and her house is insect free. Her homemade ant killer is a circle of 100% pure boric acid in a circle with a potato chip in the center. Ants love it, but it doesn't love them. 20 mule team borax is almost as good as pure boric acid, but the pure acid is better. It's hard to get but if you live close to a US borax factory you might "happen" upon one if you visit the floor.

alberfj (author)snabs2015-02-20

Borax is actually a wonderful health supplement but one has to get the dosage right to avoid overdosing on it. Check out this fascinating article by Walter Last:

bob.smitty (author)Zalina2008-08-14

Borax will kill anything and everything. It will also make your whites really bright if you add it to the washing machine while doing laundry!

bir006 (author)Zalina2008-04-21

I'd imagine Borax will kill about anything crawling around your home if enough of it is digested, yeah.

bob.smitty (author)Zalina2008-08-14

a dead mouse problem? oO

rowdysunsetart (author)2015-05-18


FriedaG (author)rowdysunsetart2016-05-16


aidanr (author)2015-09-15

Borax is boric acid

RobertV52 (author)aidanr2016-03-15

Borax is NOT Boric acid

Borax is SODIUM TETRABORATE DECAHYDRATE a salt of boric acid

MSDS Links


Boric Acid

kgb2 (author)2008-04-28

I studied and killed ants in my home for a number of years and finally did succeed in getting rid of them This bait idea, unfortunately, is not the answer, although I also tried these types of things but without much luck I am sorry to say. What worked was diatomaceous earth, which is a white powder stuff composed of diatoms that actually dry out the exoskeletons of ants' bodies. Other weapons that worked are: a carpenter ant spray with a thin long red nozzle attached to the aerosol can to get into tiny holes the ants might come out of (somewhat hard to find but go to "real" hardware stores and ask), and liquid dishsoap or liquid laundry soap. Dishsoap is cheap and very handy for when you run into a batch of ants hanging out on some syrup or jelly. Just squirt dish soap around them to form a circle they cannot escape from. They are forced to "surrender". Other useful things I learned: never squish ants. A scent is released that warns the other worker ants. Rather, make small rolls of masking tape, stick your first finger into the roll, and just tap it on the live ant and then leave it upside down somewhere convenient to reuse for the next time you spot one. You will need rolls of tape in handy places like the bathroom and kitchen and laundry.... Another reason this tape idea works well for picking up the worker ants is there is also no vibration, which also alerts them. Of course, your true goal is to kill the Queen and until you find her, and her thousands of eggs, you will be killing endless worker ants. But she can be hard to locate, but watch them the best you can manage and you might get lucky. And start to see your house and property as an ant might see it. Sometimes the Queen is outdoors and the workers come in for food, for instance. So look for rotting wood outdoors and douse it with diatomaceous earth daily, digging around the wood area and killing any ants big or small--and watching everywhere for "winged ants"--oh yucko--just step on it for heavens sake. Sometimes they are between the floors of a house, around the windows or in your houseplants, or in the walls. Sometimes you might hear them if they are carpenter ants and you can plot against them...yes, it gets to be a bit of warfare so don't blow it if you find them--prepare for the kill and be serious about it. Ants also "get up" fairly early--by 5 or 6 am and "go to bed" at maybe 7:30 or 8 pm--at least sugar ants do. They have regular paths they use too, and are "convenience" oriented for food and water. They are usually not too far from what they want to eat or drink--but think in "xray"--the parts of the house you cannot see but know are there: behind the dishwasher, near a toilet like under the floorboards, between your first and second floor, behind your wallpaper (!)etc. Spraying with the carpenter ant spray can do a quick kill-down if you find the nesting area, and then follow up with the powder (available from FEDCO seed catalog in bulk--google it), which is non-toxic to humans and pets. When I happened on the nest I found holes in my floorboards the ants had made under the rug. I sprayed, and then shot the d. earth in with the vacuum by hooking the vacuum hose up to push air into the hole so as to spread out the d. earth the best I could. I got lucky. You can skip the carpenter ant spray if you can stand the ants any longer or just get it over with because it takes up years of your life otherwise. Oh those ants kept me pretty when I see one I go after it with a lot of gusto. They are sooooo capable...way more capable than we are!!

msolgonick (author)kgb22014-07-31

It's been six years and I just finished reading this comment... Good info though...

yama (author)msolgonick2015-07-24

I understand Cliff notes is finally working on one month version...

cllinker !! (author)kgb22008-12-11

diatomaceous earth has nothing to do with ant bodies. It is the exoskeletons of diatoms, tiny, ocean dewling animals. Hih in silica, it can wear holes in exoskeletons. It would be hard to wipe out a colony of ants with it. It does not work the way poison taken back to the colony does.

Broom (author)cllinker !!2009-02-23

clinker !!, the previous commenter (kgb2) didn't say that diatomaceous earth was made from ant bodies; he actually said it was formed from diatoms. In fact, everything in your comment is mentioned early in his comment.

bob.smitty (author)kgb22008-08-14

Comment is too long... i fell asleep in the middle, and woke up when i read "way more capable that we are!!"... Until i see an ant driving a car, i will disagree with that statement. You don't see ants having "people farms" and kids everywhere (to many a mom's consternation) have ant farms just for the fun of it.

bir006 (author)bob.smitty2008-08-14

No, no, I'm actually writing this from an ant-controlled people farm right now. The ant overlords are just kind enough to let us have wifi. Now if you'll excuse me, it's feeding time!

Wafflicious (author)bir0062008-12-27

WAIT.... are you #1948? If you are hey. It's #2983 from the pen to your left remember?

Shagglepuff (author)kgb22008-06-29

That's the longest comment I've ever seen.

tell me about it

Jdurban (author)2008-04-22

Brilliant and funny! You are going to save me a lot of time and money my friend. I am always having to deal with those damn Argentinians!

ironicnet (author)Jdurban2015-01-04

In Argentina we prefer the Boric Acid with Dulce de Leche instead of Honey Syrup :;) P

KCS2 (author)ironicnet2015-06-09

I read this and realized I jad about a tablespoon of dulce de leche in a jar in the fridge...lil boogers are on it like crack!

rowdysunsetart (author)2015-05-18

Nuron (author)2014-09-14

Used a cardboard box about 6 inch X 4 inch. That way no problem with animals. Used packing tape on the inside bottom of the box and drilled many holes along the bottom of the sides.

Put honey on the bottom and then mixed the Boric Acid. Placed in bathroom and now can see where the ants are coming from.

Thank you for your instructions which helped solve this problem.

NamOoni1974 (author)2014-07-22

Just found a huge colony moving into my house. They are now having a honey and borax breakfast. They seem so happy. Makes me feel like Dr. Evil (insert evil laugh here!)Thanks so much for the recipe.

sereneone (author)2013-10-29

very enjoyable reading.

sgplace (author)2011-09-22

Great thread! Let me add some info- Borax and boric acid... Borax is Na2B4O7-10H2O, (20 Mule Team Borax is 99.5% Borax) Hydrated sodium borate - Boric acid is H3BO3 both are a source of Boron the active ingredient.
Diatomaceous Earth comes in many grades but you want to use Food Grade. The % of silica is extremely low so is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA. As a matter of fact I use take a teaspoon every day to help control my cholesterol levels. The DE works great to control ants and other pests. Check out: sugar ants with diatomaceous earth

mcates2 (author)2011-06-28

I left a shot glass with a few drops of Southern Comfort on my counter where I had witnessed ants. Not on purpose. I got up in the morning and went to work. When I got home the next day the bottom of the shot glass contained 20- 30 dead ants floating in SoCo. The little buggers probably died happy.

msscienceprincess (author)2010-09-07

You know you don't have to use disposable mixers, boric acid can be used to wash the dishes with, clean out the sink, and wash many other items, as long as you wash your spoons/ forks after they are used to mix boric acid they're safe to eat with. I use borax in my dishwasher once a month instead of soap for sparkling dishes and flatware, just do an extra rinse cycle!

source: personal experience/ I am a science teacher and deal with boric acid all the time, makes great slime too.

beehard44 (author)2010-08-20

nice graphics though

beehard44 (author)2010-08-20

i normally kill 'em with a spray bottle with alcohol in it

bir006 (author)2010-07-19

Scroll down, look under "Alternative Names". I figured it was close enough to be relevant. There probably is a pedantic argument about the differences between boric acid and borax here; but the mouse won't know which one you put in his peanut butter.

jabster2k (author)2010-04-04


thermoelectric (author)2009-07-08

I seem to be slowing down the ant trail into my room, Last time I done this golden syrup was fine, But not the ants prefer honey...

Arbitror (author)2009-06-15

I love Instructables where there is humor infused into it!

the_burrito_master (author)2009-04-19

Wow this works great I killed a whole colony of big black ants in less than 48 hours! Well there may e a few sick survivors :) lol ,but they'll be dead soon.

vrrusa (author)2008-04-25

Fantastic instructable! Great comments and great solutions BUT -- eco-freaks aside -- what you pour on the ground travels into the massive underground lakes (aquafers) that contain your drinking water........... so probably not the best idea to use ammonia or bleach (and NEVER together) or petro chemicals in large quantities on the ground. Also, most brown and black ants co-habitate with termites (who also do not like borax either...) so they are a good indicator that you have termites. Lastly, setting fire to the nests is great but really doesn't work well with the ones that live under the house (with the termites) - try using a mask & goggles and poofing the ground under the house with borax powder. If the borax doesn't come in a poofabel bottle get a plastic mustard/ketsup bottle (the ones with the pointed tops. Shake then poof then shake then poof.....) just do not breathe it or let kids or animal near it. I have also heard the diatomacious earth is great under houses (except be careful crawling under there later.) Anyone want to know how to burn supher and kill anything that is in the house (including every roach, flea, egg, mouse, etc....?) Maybe I will look up my old instructions and put them here for y'all! It is how farmers cleaned out barns each year.

Broom (author)vrrusa2009-02-23

"Also, most brown and black ants co-habitate with termites..." Um, yeah. They cohabitate. And hope to get the right to legally marry termites, too. Sure they do. They also unionize. And share daycare facilities. Fortunately, pink fuzzy unicorns are their natural enemies, and stomp on the much-feared ant-termite cohabitation mounds wherever they find them.

bob.smitty (author)vrrusa2008-08-14

"petrochemicals in large quantities on the ground" ahh... the memories... gramps pouring kerosene on the ant's nests and setting them on fire, then leaning back and lighting up a stoogie! come to think of it, it couldn't be that effective, since he used to do it year after year.

avergari (author)2009-01-09

I read online everywhere that black pepper worked to deter them. so i poured black pepper everywhere in my kitchen, and then the next morning, to my surprise, They Busted Right Through The Black Pepper and continued to wander around my kitchen!!!! my son eats rice cereal, so i put some of that down because i read it will make them explode when they bring it home. we'll see. all i know is that its VERY un-nerving watching ants lerk around my kitchen just so that i can feed them rice cereal. this sucks!

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