Are you resisting calling an exterminator even when ants show up in your home year after year? You’re not alone. Most of us would rather avoid extermination fees and toxic chemicals. Before you make that call, it might be time to try some DIY ant traps that pest experts recommend.
Where there’s one ant in your house, there are likely countless more about to surface. If you’re killing only the ants you see, you’re nowhere near done with these pesky critters. Their colony is probably very large and hidden far from reach. These easy home remedies are not only made to kill the ants, but also draw them out of hiding with bait they love.
10. How Do You Locate an Ant Colony Nest?
The pest experts at Do-It-Yourself Pest Control state that one reason it’s hard to get rid of ants is because you haven’t located their nest. It’s important to find out, when possible, if their nest is hidden inside your home or if they actually live outside. The way to do that DIY-style is to grab a magnifying glass and start looking for ant trails.
Ants leave a trail of chemical pheromones wherever they go, according to the Do-It-Yourself Pest Control team. Pay attention to where the ants you’re seeing travel in your home. Then try to follow their trails with the magnifying glass to know at least the general location of where their nest might be.
9. Does It Matter What Kind of Ants They Are?
The DIY ant traps we’re about to describe are generally beneficial for eliminating ant infestations. However, different ant species might require different approaches. For example, carpenter ants usually come out at night. If you want to follow their pheromone trails, you’ll need to stay up after dark.
It’s also important to know whether you’re dealing with ants or termites. The Do-It-Yourself Pest Control experts say flying ants and termites look quite a bit alike. Two easy differences to spot are that ants have segmented waists and bent antennas, whereas termites do not.
8. Boric Acid Ant Trap
Bulwark Exterminating recommends a DIY ant trap made with boric acid. Note that boric acid is a poison and should be handled with care. People with small children and pets should avoid using boric acid, and try the baking soda version or other non-toxic trap instead.
Mix one part boric acid with three parts bait food, like sugar water or honey. Butter and bacon grease also work well. Carefully place the boric acid mixture in a small container on the floor near a point of entry. Slowly over a handful of days more and more ants will die from this trap.
7. Baking Soda Ant Trap
For a non-toxic DIY ant trap, add baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to enough sugar water to make the mixture a liquid. Powdered sugar is recommended for easy dissolving. Add the mixture to a small dish near entry points and see what happens. Supposedly it works nearly as well as the boric acid mixture. Again, it will take several days or more for the ant colony to dwindle from feeding at the trap, but the baking soda should help stop them in their tracks.
6. Cornmeal Ant Trap
A cornmeal paste made with cornmeal and sugar water might also be helpful as a DIY ant trap. There’s some debate from the pest experts as to how effective this mixture is in killing ants, but it might be worth a shot if you’ve got cornmeal on hand. Mature ants prefer liquid food, so you might set some traps with cornmeal paste and some that are watery. This would allow for some worker ants to carry the paste mixture back to their queen in the hidden nest. If this trap isn’t proving powerful enough, you could add boric acid or baking soda to the mix.
5. Vinegar and Water Spray
The experts at Bulwark Exterminating also recommend using vinegar as one of their top ant-killing household products. Add one part vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle. Spray the cracks and other entry points where you think the ants are getting through. This spray can be used directly on the ants to kill them, too. The downside of this method is it only kills worker ants, but this spray does help mask the scent of their pheromone trails.
If you don’t want the smell of vinegar to linger in your home, use lemon juice with water instead.
4. Citrus Peel Ant Trap
Speaking of lemons, citrus peels also make for a great-smelling non-toxic natural DIY ant trap. Add citrus peel from whatever citrus fruits you have on hand into a food processor with enough water to puree them. Lemons, oranges and grapefruit peels work well. This mixture can be poured over ant nests outdoors and can be placed in a small dish for a trap inside your home.
Why does citrus work as an ant trap? The naturally occurring d-limonene oil found in citrus peels is toxic for ants.
3. Soapy Water Spray
Did you know that ants breathe through their joints? According to Bulwark Exterminating, coating an ant’s body with soapy water clogs those joints and suffocates them. To make this soapy DIY ant-killing spray, add one part non-toxic dish soap with one part water in a spray bottle. Spray entry points with the dish soap mixture, as well as on the ants themselves. The soap will also keep other worker ants from finding the pheromone tracks their deceased colleagues left behind.
2. Remember, It’s All About the Queen
Vinegar, lemon or dish soap sprays are all great and safe options for killing worker ants, but if you don’t get the queen you haven’t eliminated the colony. Rarely will you be able to find where the ants are hiding their queen to kill her yourself, so you’ve got to get the worker ants to do it. Providing them with ant traps that allow them to take poisonous food (like the cornmeal, butter or bacon fat) back to the queen will help wipe out the colony more quickly, and hopefully for good.
1. Ant Infestation Prevention
Once you eliminate the ants, you’ll want to do some work to help prevent another colony from moving in. As Do-It-Yourself Pest Control reminds us, it’s very difficult to seal up every possible entry point, but you can improve your chances of fewer ant visitors in the coming months.
Clean entry points well, then caulk and seal them. Fix and repair any pipe leaks that could be attracting carpenter ants, and clear your property of any rotting wood. If after all that work you’re still getting troubling ant infestations, it’s probably time to call the exterminator for some professional support.