Ant Invasion Solution




Ants can be a huge problem in my day not an ant in sight.....the next I might find a '2 inch wide column' of ants marching through my kitchen and swarming the dogs' feed dishes.  Another problem spot is the shed where we store aluminum pop & beer cans for recycling. 

I dislike spraying pesticides....they not only kill the ants, but beneficial insects as well.  A borax, sugar & water 'syrup' is a very effective 'poison' for ants.

My solution was to build a container for the "ant syrup" that would allow easy access for ants, but not for birds, animals and other insects that might find that sweet syrup appealing......and its pretty secure from curious kids.  I wanted something that could be used outside & withstand the elements....and the design to be such that evaporation wouldn't pose a problem (I wanted the syrup to stay syrupy)!  And I wanted it to hold enough syrup that I wouldn't have to frequently refill it.

I wanted to set it in place & forget about it!  This WORKED for 9 months on one filling.


2 cans, one slightly shorter & smaller diameter than the other
foil duct tape
a kitchen 'scrubbie' (Scotch-brite pad type)
Borax (found in the laundry detergent aisle)

can opener (the type that 'removes' the lid, rather than the kind that cuts into the lid)
large nail & hammer (to make access holes for the ants)...... or a drill & drill bit
scissors (to cut the 'scrubbie pad')

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Step 1: "Remove" the Lid

Actually, the only lid that needs to be 'removed' is the lid to the outer can. 

At the end of this process, the lid will be reattached.

Step 2: Scrubbie in Place

I cut a circle out of the scrubbie, and made a hole in the center (I wanted the ants to be able to get every last drop!).  Then I put the remainder of the scrubbie in the can, the idea is that not only will they ingest the 'syrup', but will carry it back to their nest.  I wanted them to have easy access to the syrup, and then back out again.

Add the 'syrup'......I used equal amounts of borax and sugar, added enough water to make a syrup.  You can fill the inner can to nearly the top, just be careful to keep the can upright.

Step 3:

Make holes all around the outer can, about an inch from the opening. 

Secure the inner can to the center of the lid of the outer glue gun, double faced tape, strong adhesive, bits of the foil tape....all will work.

Slide the outer can in place!

And press down firmly to seat the lid back into place.

Step 4: Taping It Securely Closed!

I chose this foil duct tape because it really withstands heat, cold, moisture & sunlight better than regular duct tape.  Since I didn't really need tape this wide, I cut  a length that went slightly more than halfway around the can & then cut it lengthwise.

If any of the holes get covered by the tape, be sure to poke a hole in the tape where it covered the holes.

Step 5: Done!

Now place this "Anti-Ant Weapon" where you need it.....indoors or out.  I had this one 'zip  tied' to an upright post in an open shed.  Wherever you put it, make sure it won't get tipped over.....borax-syrup oozing out all over the place defeats the whole purpose of this Instructible!!!

You can paint the outer keep it from rusting away (this can spent 9 months in exposed to the elements), or make it blend in to the surroundings....or to make it more noticeable.

Borax & sugar syrup to keep ants from invading is nothing new.  It WORKS!  But I like having it in a container that limits accessibility to other creatures.  

This works wonderfully with fire ant infestations.....and they are more than just a 'nuisance'.

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    14 Discussions

    Tex Arcana

    5 years ago

    I had ants get trapped in a wall of our kitchen one fall, and when spring came they all swarmed INSIDE... :eek: After many calls to the pest control company, they sent out the old crazy dude, who used some apple butter mixed with borax as bait, and advised us to wait about 2 weeks. It worked.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Sound like a really great idea that I can use. BUT! I must be a little dense cause I can't see how the ants get from the inside of the outer can to the inside of the inner can. Color me slow but, please gather my scattered wits for me. Thanks, jim

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    The inner can has no lid on it, its open at the top. Ants enter the outer can through the holes near the bottom. Then they will travel up the inner can & over the top....down to the 'sweet poison'....and they WILL find it! I've had horrible ant problems in the past...even have them get inside a closed jar of peanut butter by traveling along the threads of the cap!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, that clears up my problem. Sounds like Mighty Mouse gives way to Atom Ant.
    Thanks, jim


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I am so glad you posted this! We will be in an area where ants are a terrible problem and this information will come in handy! Thanks for sharing and have a splendorous day!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    That was one of my concerns...I have 3 chihuahuas that are VERY inquisitive.

    Borax is very poisonous...and very effective with ants....but it doesn't discriminate. It really needs to be "out of reach".....this worked very well.

    I also didn't want it to be accessible to other insects (bees, etc)....and, potentially, hummingbirds. And I wanted it to be as "kid-proof" as possible.

    This spring I plan on experimenting with using make the syrup more solid & 'spill-proof'. Though by securing the can to a post in an outbuilding kept it from tipping over.


    Reply 6 years ago on Step 2

    It lets the ants get back out more easily.....and carry the poison back to their nest & share with their colony.

    Times that I've used just a container of the syrup, there would be a LOT of drowned ants. With the scrubbie in place, after 9 months of use, there were only a couple. And the ants had certainly used it, all but a few drops of syrup was gone.


    Reply 6 years ago on Step 5

    It needs to be approved for admission in the contest! =(

    Come back tomorrow!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I came back from vacation last week to find a trail of ants from my front door to my trash can. I will be trying this.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I've had best results by following the ants back to their home & leaving the "Ant Can" close (for their dining convenience). They'll lose interest in your trash can sooner & focus on the sweetness closer to home!