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.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: 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!

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!

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!

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!

Be the First to Share


    • CNC Contest

      CNC Contest
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest
    • Maps Challenge

      Maps Challenge

    49 Discussions

    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.

    2 replies

    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.


    11 years ago

    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

    4 years ago

    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!

    2 replies
    BR13Maur Maur

    Reply 3 years ago

    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.


    Reply 3 years ago

    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!


    3 years ago

    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.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

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


    5 years ago

    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.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    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....


    8 years ago on Step 5

    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

    9 years ago on Step 5

     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.

    2 replies