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Best Homemade Natural Ant Killer

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An easy Homemade Natural Ant Killer that will help rid you of those pesky little creatures that find their way into your kitchen every year.

Ants give me the heebie jeebies. We never had problems with ants inside until last year. I called Barry at work in a panic. “WE HAVE ANTS! COME HOME NOW!” Of course, he didn’t. We used a recipe for homemade Terro that we found on the internet. My mom uses Terro for ants, so I was familiar with it. My Annie was still a babe in arms so we didn’t worry about the Borax then. Now she is running around everywhere so we have to be more careful. We don’t want chemicals in our home, so we made another concoction from stuff we had here to get rid of the little devils. Well… didn’t work. Everything I tried was a dud. The ants were still here – I still had the heebie jeebies, so I wanted to go back to the Terro. To make your own Terro-like ant killer, you need borax, sugar, and water. That’s it.

An easy Homemade Natural Ant Killer that will help rid you of those pesky little creatures that find their way into your kitchen every year.

Combine 1 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of Borax, and ½ cup of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for three minutes. Let it cool completely. It will thicken as it cools.
An easy Homemade Natural Ant Killer that will help rid you of those pesky little creatures that find their way into your kitchen every year.

Before you put this ant killer mixture down, you need to clean the ant area with something. I used white vinegar because I use it to clean my entire house. It’s safe – it’s effective – it makes me want pickles. You need to clean it because ant’s leave a trail. The trail says “Hey! Come over to this lady’s house! She’s a great cook and her kid is messy!”

An easy Homemade Natural Ant Killer that will help rid you of those pesky little creatures that find their way into your kitchen every year.

Take the cooled ant killer mixture and put it into jar lids – short so that the ants can crawl over the side. It also needs to be in a lid so it’s portable.  Place the lid where you know the ants are. They will eat the stuff, take it back to the queen and they’ll die. It won’t be instantly, it might take a day or two. This isn’t a microwaved ant killing method.

An easy Homemade Natural Ant Killer that will help rid you of those pesky little creatures that find their way into your kitchen every year.
Borax is NOT child or pet friendly. The FDA says Borax is safe, unless ingested in LARGE amounts. So, please wash your pan with hot water and soap – and don’t serve Borax for dinner.  But, I know this method works…and ants give me the heebie jeebies – did I tell you that? So, I put the mixture down when I knew we were going to be gone all day with Dottie. Then we came home and put Annie to bed and kept the dog upstairs. The next day I pulled it up and then put it down again during her nap (Dottie upstairs) taking it up when she was awake. That night, we put it down again. Presto! It worked! Don’t mess with me, ants.

For daily tips and frugal fun, you can follow me on Instagram @stacymakescents.


  • I know this works! Every spring, I mix up a batch of “Auntie Val’s Bug Juice” using the same ingredients and put it in empty yogurt containers near our doors, both inside and outside. Within a few days, ants are gone!  –Valerie
  • We live in an area that is infested with sugar ants. From the very first summer we moved in, we had a huge problem. They were everywhere. We’ve tried expensive sprays, those ant baits, powders, bay leaves, everything and nothing worked. Every spring they just kept coming back and we just dealt with them until the fall. Stacy told me about the terro ant bait she had been using. I gave it a shot and we are ant free. I decided not to even wait on them this year. I’ve already made it and have them set up where I know the ants come into the house. Thank you Stacy!  –Amanda from Spinning Yarns and Other Things
  • A review at Pocket Pause.

Tip from reader Pat Jarvis:

My son came up with a good idea for distributing the Borax/sugar ant bait. Put the prepared “syrup” in an empty soda pop can, lay it on its side with the opening at the ground. The dogs and other animals can’t get to it. Little kids might still be a problem, as they are with a lot of things and need to be watched, but at least I won’t poison the animals. If it’s windy they will blow away (we get a lot of wind), so I just dented them in and put a rock on top. The weight of the syrup in the can seems to keep them laying on the right side.

An easy Homemade Natural Ant Killer that will help rid you of those pesky little creatures that find their way into your kitchen every year.

Comment Policy: I love hearing your thoughts and input on what I write. Since I write about what works at my house, what pleases my handsome hubby and darling children; I'm sure we'll disagree sometimes. In those cases, do what's right for you and yours. As with any form of communication, please only post comments that move the discussion in a positive direction.

About Stacy

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and Keep Crockin': A Poorganic Slow Cooker Cookbook, and a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom to her three children, Annie (June 2009), Andy (August 2012) and Eli (September 2014). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and more to keep up with her daily antics.


  1. This stuff is awesome and it works!!! I kept a couple of small bowels wiggliest like sheds spread. I poked holes in the bowel about halfway down, poured the terro in and snapped the lid on. I left one indoors put one under my house and another near the trash can outside. We were ant free after about 4 days.

  2. Not sure why that says wiggiliest ….stupid smart phone.

  3. Great tip — thanks for sharing. We get ants on our patio every summe – ugh.

    Also, didn’t realize that about the borax!! Good to know!


  5. Christina says:

    I love Terro and next time I need it, I’ll do this and make my own. We used Terro this year (like every other year) only they still wouldn’t go away after like 2 weeks. My husband read some stuff online and saw something about baby powder, so we put it right where they were coming in the house at and presto! No ants within 12 hours and they’re still not back!

  6. We use a similiar recipe…I just take the Borax and mix it with a little honey in a lid, and presto~ the ants flock to it, and then magically “disappear” after a couple of days!

  7. It worked…..Thank you! After 12 hours, almost all the ants are gone….yeah! Thanks again.

  8. Just wondering if you can store the mixture and if so for how long?

    • Great questions Tara! :-) I made my last batch about two-three months ago and it still looks just like the day I made it. As for storage, we just put ours in an old yogurt container.

  9. Dumb question, suppose I put this out, the ants eat it and then my dog eats the ants before they die. My pattern would be similar to yours as far as putting it out when we are all in bed and naps. But I didn’t know if they die fast or what.

    • Not dumb at all. Since ants are so little, and ingest a small amount compared to what a dog gets with one swipe of his/her tongue, I wouldn’t think it would hurt the dog badly……although I wouldn’t let Dottie eat it. :-) They die fairly fast, usually within 24 hours so I’d just try to keep all pets and children away.

  10. Borax is almost exactly as toxic as ordinary table salt, so you or your dog would have to ingest over a pound of it to be fatal. It is very safe to humans and pets.

  11. So this works outside too?? My son is deathly allergic to ants. We live on 11 acres and yes we have lots of ants. I battle them every single year and am so tired of it. I have to use spray in the house but can’t use chemicals outside as we have free range chickens and I don’t want them ingesting the stuff or our horse. If I could do bowls with lids and holes poked in them that would be awesome.

    • Shana, I have never used it outside…but I’ve never had an ant problem outside. I would just go ahead and try it to see. Yesterday morning I woke up to ants in our kitchen. I put this out and they were all gone by the time I went to bed. And there are none there this morning. :-)

  12. Oh my, we have been fighting ants ever since February. Definitely trying this one. (crossing fingers that it works) 😉

  13. I know borax is harmful to humans, so will mixing it in a sauce pan that we frequently use be harmful too? Obviously we will wash the pan after, but I just don’t know if there is any residue left?

  14. I know this works! Every spring, I mix up a batch of “Auntie Val’s Bug Juice” using the same ingredients and put it in empty yogurt containers near our doors, both inside and outside. Within a few days, ants are gone!

  15. Just made a batch and within 5 minutes I had a hoard of ants. Die ants die! Thank you so very much for posting this! I dispise ants but worry about bait with my two little girls. Thank you again this is awesome!!

  16. I have used Diatomaceous Earth, which looks like a white powder, that you can buy at your local feed store to kill ants. It works wonders also. It is earth friendly, so if you have pets and children there is no worry at all for them. Lots of different uses for this stuff, but I mainly use it for ants.

    • Never heard of it. Thanks for sharing! :-)

    • Diatomaceous Earth, while good, is a fine powder and a bit messy. Is the remains of a type of hard-shelled algae that has fossilized. The ants or roaches for that matter, crawl through this and it cuts their exoskeletons. So, better to put this in cracks, behind appliances and in out of the way places.

      I’m going to try this recipe but rather than put in shallow plastic lids, I’ll bought a bunch of cheap, plastic shot glasses and will put a bit of paper towel in each, then fill with the liquid. I’ll then put them around the house where ants are most active.

      They literally took over my kitchen and were coming in through the ceiling. What a mess when I sprayed. Dead ants and needed to wash everything that the spray fell on.

    • Make sure you get food-grade DE; the stuff for swimming pools is toxic to humans!

  17. I’ll have to try this! We have ants every year, and we’ve tried everything from sugar and baking soda to pest control, and NOTHING has worked. Not even the pest control people who doused our home with poisonous chemicals (I wasn’t keen on that solution, but my hubby was fed up and he called them). Ant traps are out of the question; I have forbidden my hubby from laying them down after I caught my daughter sucking on one of them one day (needless to say, I completely freaked out on that occasion. My daughter, fortunately, was completely fine).

    Anyway, my point is that I would love to find a natural solution that doesn’t involve any poisonous chemicals, but that actually WORKS (unlike the baking soda & sugar, which just seemed to provide them with a nice, yummy buffet).

    My neighbors told me to try sticking dryer sheets in the places they enter the house…something about the smell offending them and keeping them out. Yeah, well, that didn’t work either. Anyway, I am SO going to try this! Thanks for sharing! The testimonials are very encouraging!

    I’m going to Stumble this for you! Hopefully some other folks will happen upon it too! :-)

    Have a great weekend!
    Smiles, Jenn @Misadventures in Motherhood

    • I feel your husband’s pain. That’s how I felt before we started using this. LOL I tried everything natural – people swore by grits and Cream of Wheat. For some reason, my ants weren’t interested in grits or Cream of Wheat. I hope this works as good for you as it does for me…and my mom! :-)

  18. THANK YOU! I had Terro on the list this week b/c my ants have surfaced once again. I am going to try this instead! Terro is becoming hard for me to find and it costs more.

  19. When I made a liquid version, the ants weren’t going for it. When I left it as a powder, it worked.

    • Wow…that’s the first time I’ve heard that. Thanks for passing that along! :-) My whole family uses the liquid version with great success, but I’ll keep this in mind.

  20. We must have very smart ants in these parts! 😉

  21. Stephanie says:

    Does this work on all kinds of ants? We have the big carpenter ants, which don’t tend to hang out in packs. We’ve tried a different ant poison recipe which they didn’t even touch. I’m about at my wits end trying to figure out how they think!

    • Stephanie, I’m not sure…we have the small, swarming type of ants here. But, you could give it a try and see! :-)

  22. Pamasita says:

    I have never tried this remedy, but my mother swears by it. Just sprinkle cornmeal around the area where you are seeing the ants, they will take it back to the nest, & presto, it kills them all, cause they can’t digest the cornmeal. Harm-free!

    • I have heard this method works for lots of people…but we have tried and tried and our ants just won’t bite. :-(

  23. Thanks so much for the recipe! I noticed we were being invaded tonight and I put out the last of the Liquid Terro in a prescription bottle cap. They love the Terro but I’ve gone through several bottles this past year and didn’t want to have to buy another bottle. So, lo and behold, I googled for a homemade recipe and found your easy-to-understand (and fun!) recipe page. Thanks so much! :-)

  24. Wow! This stuff works GREAT and has NO smell!
    It’s very easy to clean up with just a wet cloth.
    We put the bait right on the path of an ant trail coming into the kitchen before going to bed last night … The ants were gathering and enjoying their “Borax Party”. When we woke up this morning there were a couple of dead ants, but not a live one to be found anywhere! We left the bait out all day in case, but no ants came back. Great solution, thanks for the tip!

  25. I’ve also used honey and borax with great results and no cooking! Very quick and easy.

  26. Dee Dee McKean says:

    This stuff worked great !!! Simply amazing !!! We put it out yesterday afternoon ants had a huge party and now they are gone!!

  27. Stumbled upon this site looking for “clean” home remedies. We had an ant problem last summer and I wanted to see what your solution was- same recipe! We kept it in a mason jar, and instead of jar lids we soaked cotton balls in the solution and placed them around the house, including outside. I don’t have children, and after reading about the daughter sucking the ant bait it might not be a good idea with kids, but I have 2 doxie’s and they completely left the bait alone. They actually had more interest in the old poison traps we tried (which I quickly threw away). I didn’t know about cleaning their trails, thanks for that advice!

  28. This is the best ant killer I have used I am actually here because I miss placed my recipe for it. Haven’t had ants in a year until recently and I kno they will depart in just 2 days

  29. A little off topic — a different bug, anyhow — but a natural, EFFECTIVE killer for roaches, should you need to kill them, is simply….. soapy water! Unfortunately, we got some big ones coming in last summer… not sure why… we aren’t dirty and it didn’t happen until our neighbors moved out… hmmmm… but I kept a regular spray bottle of soapy water (dish soap, in my case) in our bathroom (for nighttime surprises) and in the kitchen. Just spray them down over and over and you’ll see them keel over in front of you. Better than Raid and better than squishing them. But I still like to resort to my other method…. “HONEY….. BUUUUUUUUGGG!” :)

  30. I followed your directions closely, but once the mixture cooled it got rock hard, and the ants don’t seem to be going for it at all. Is it supposed to remain soft or is it supposed to do that? What did I do wrong?

    • Hmmm, no that’s not how it’s supposed to be. I’ve never had it turn out like that. My only thought is that perhaps the sugar got too hot and formed a candy like substance. I’d try again and not boil so hard or long. Sometimes different pots get hotter than others.

  31. Just mixed up a batch. And put a time-lapse camera on it. I’ll let you know how it goes and send you the link to the time-lapse video once edited.

    I have a hunch Australian ants don’t care about your recipe.

    • Those Australian ants must be ornery. Ha! :-)

    • Scott, did you do this? I have two types of ants, one that I would expect to go for this bait, another that probably wont. The ones that won’t are odd, they invade my house to eat tissues. I can’t work that one out.

      I recently tried a bait for flies, it didn’t work on the regular house flies that drive me mad, but all the little ones that come in to hang around the fruit bowl went for it. It was two tablespoons of sugar in a jar, half fill it with vinegar and top it up with water, then cover the top with a piece of paper held on with a rubber band and poke a hole in it about the right size for the flies.

  32. I had to share that this also works for roaches… Those irritating German roaches we get in Texas that even the exterminators say are impossible to get rid of once someone accidentally gets an egg stuck to a shoe or something and brings them into your house.

    Ants annoy me, but roaches creep me out. I used your recipe to get rid of some sugar ants, and found the side benefit that it got rid of the roaches too. Unfortunately, I live in Texas and they just come back anyway. BUT I’ve figured out if I put out the bait every month we are roach free.

    So much cheaper than the exterminator and no odd chemicals in the house with 3 kids. Horray!!

  33. Just whipped some up…uuuuhhhhhh

  34. ok im gonna try this…i HATE ants and its out of controll here….ALSO, Dottie is a great name <3

  35. renee reynolds says:

    OK I am wanting to kill fire ants outside where I feed squirrels and birds ..solo since they don’t usually eat that stuff will it be safe to put out ? Or maybe just at night I guess. Thank you I will try out and let you know ! Sounds good! :)

  36. Be very careful to not get it on the stove, it pitted my black glass surface:( Sure hope it gets rid of the ants. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Boooooooooo!!! :-( Hope it works for you too.

      • I know! But it’s a good lesson to me and hope it warns others to be more careful than I was. Who would have believed burnt sugar could do that? On the brighter side, I think it’s working already!!! I filled yogurt lids and laid them at different places on top of my cupboards. This morning I found some of the lids had ants and other lids didn’t. I moved the other lids next to the ones that had ants in them. Will let you know next week with, hopefully, a good report. Your site is wonderful. :)

        • Hooray! Keep me posted.

          • I’m so happy to report that it worked! And as a side benefit, I instead of creeped out I’m now intrigued by the little pests. I spent way too much time watching them crawl from one place to the “feast” then back again to share it with their nest-mates. The little guys came in at the point where the moulding meets the ceiling. I taped a little clear plastic cup to the places they would enter with white duct tape. I “painted” the tape with the mixture and they were easy to see and fun to watch them as I sat at this computer. After three days there weren’t any on top of the cupboards, but I do see one or two after it rains on the white tape with the killer-paste, that I will leave on the moulding for awhile.
            I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you shared this great safe ant killer. Thanks Stacy!

          • I’m so glad it worked for you!

  37. We recently had an ant invasion after a heavy rain (seems to always happen that way), so I sprinkled some plain borax along the baseboards, following their trail. Within a day, they were totally gone. The bug man came a week later and I told him we had had a recent ant problem. When I told him I’d put down borax, he said he uses boric acid (borax) pellets all around the outside of the house and to just keep doing what I was doing if I ever see them inside. I thought it was funny that our pest control company uses borax, too, but if it works, it works!

  38. Our contractor told us to put borax down inside the walls and behind our new cabinets when we had our kitchen remodeled, to keep ants, roaches and mice away. His words were that ‘borax keeps away anything with legs!’ He says they always sprinkle it down in the walls of new houses. I thought that was a great tip, if you ever do any remodeling! The only thing ‘with legs’ we’ve seen since then were some ants, but they were right at the front door…far from the kitchen.

  39. Alexandra says:

    Would this work on pillbugs? I have an infestation of pillbugs in my bathroom. The oddest place, I know. Also would borax hurt plants if you sprinkled it outside to kill bugs? Just wondering

    • I’m not sure what pillbugs are, but you might want to try diatomaceous earth. Get the food grade type. I bought mine from Amazon. :-)

  40. Found this on interest, going to try it. Sounds like a win win!

  41. I’m not sure if there are any borax item sold in my country so I want to ask, if normal laundry detergent works on this?

    • No….maybe look for diatomaceous earth.

      • I think this is even worse, not even heard of this and I think it wouldn’t appear on the market. Thanks anyway, just want to know if normal laundry detergent work, if can’t, maybe I go try find for borax.

        • Charmaine Flecha says:

          Maybe you can look online under Sodium Tetraborate Decahydrate (Borax) they sometimes sell it on Amazon in the UK under it’s tech. name. I don’t know just a thought. Hope it helps.

  42. This totally works!! Thanks for posting this!

  43. Stacy, this stuff is great! For the last hour, my cat and I have been watching the ants pour out from the baseboard to feast on this. I put a big blob on foil next to where they go in and out, the foil is covered! I know, I need a life, but this was great evening entertainment. My cat and I have been chanting, “death to the ants,”

  44. Jackie Conklin says:

    I wanted to use this because ants are coming in from all directions. If only I could find the borax in my store! Bummer:-(

  45. Thank you! Thank you! I used this and WOW! totally works. I also learned that vinegar eradicates the scent trail, which I never could figure out how to eliminate that, so thank you on that note as well. I would leave Diatomaceous earth all over my counters before I left for work hoping to get rid of the little pests but this stuff is AMAZING. I watched as they ate themselves silly…That actually sounds a little messed up but…who cares…bugs outside are ok, well not mosquitos, but in the house, that is my territory! Thanks again!

  46. Yeah, be gone ants…this is MY house.

  47. I use this recipe and it works wonders. To make it a little more child/pet safe I use glass bullion jars with ant sized wholes pocked in the cap. It just takes an inch or so of the liquid in the bottom to work. I wouldn’t leave a child unattended with it but its better than an open container. I like to place one jar outside of the house where they are coming in. Most of the time the ants are gone from the house the next morning because they don’t have to travel the extra footage to get to food.

  48. Melissa says:

    Hi Stacy, I think you and I are kindred spirits!! Everything I have read on your page resonates with me, ESPECIALLY living debt free. I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting your blog, and I plan to stop by again!

  49. That’s really smart! I’m so glad it works for you too.

  50. Sharon Rinde says:

    Hi Stacy, I recently discovered your blog and am in love with all the stuff I’m learning from you! I am newer to cleaning naturally and cheaply. I had a HUGE ant infestation the other day, we found the source where they are coming into the house from a crack in the grout on our tile. I made this homemade ant killer and put it out. The ants immediately went for it. However, it’s been sitting out from 3 1/2 days now, and the ants are still coming in. They stay around where the “syrup” is. Do I need to keep waiting, should I put down a fresh batch? Or did I do something wrong that is making it not work?

  51. Well, I’ve never had that happen. Hmmmm. Did you clean the site with vinegar first?

    • Sharon Rinde says:

      Yes I did. It was a 1 part vinegar to 1 part water with some lemon essential oil. The ants are still going after the “syrup” and there is less of the ants, but they are still coming in. Is this suppose to kill them? My husband thinks that since we’ve had ant problems ever since moving in here, that maybe it’s a much bigger problem than we thought and it’s just going to take awhile. Do you think I should clean the area again, and put down a fresh batch and see what happens? I even put some outside where I think they are coming in from. But they aren’t going after it anymore on the outside, just on the inside of my house. I read somewhere that someone does equal parts of the borax to the sugar.

      • Mine are usually all gone within 3-4 days. I would take it up, clean it again, and start over. If you have a LOT of them it might take longer.

        • Sharon Rinde says:

          Thanks Stacy! You’re amazing how fast you respond. Thank you for taking your precious time and sharing! I’m cleaning it all up today & starting over. There does seem to be a lot less ants today. Really only a few stragglers. I put some of the mix outside as well where I saw them coming into a crack in the stucco by the front door. I’m hoping that helps. Thanks again!

  52. Thanks for this useful information! We’ve been overwhelmed with ants this year. We’ve tried all kings of things to get rid of them and the effects have been short lived. Terro worked but only for a little while and it was hard to find. I’ll try this home brew and the vinegar wash, since I use vinegar to clean most everything. I’d also like to suggest from our most recent success that you can use Texas Cedarwood essential oil to kill ants and discourage any more from coming back. I take an eyedropper to a bottle of the Cedarwood oil and drop around window sills & floor joints. I’ve washed the floors around the cat bowls with the oil and it seems to keep the little buggers away for a day or two. I may mix some with the vinegar and see how that works.

  53. Well, I’ve never heard of that! Thanks for the information! :-)

  54. I’ve been having an indoor problem with a lot of small black ants over the last couple of weeks. They are coming in behind my kitchen cabinets up the wall and then come over the counter around the sink. Over the last 3 days I’ve reduced their number a great deal by spraying them with Commercial Grade Windex glass cleaner from Lowes as soon as I see them. It kills them almost instantly. Today I accidentally grabbed the Vanilla & Moonlight scented Fabreze instead and it killed them even faster. AN INSTANT KILL!!! I figure either product is MUCH safer to use than bug killers. I’ve mixed up some Terro tonight and put it out after doing the recommended cleaning with vinegar. There’s no ants coming to eat it yet but I should know more tomorrow. Thanks so much for posting what has worked for you.

  55. Barbara says:

    Just read in comments below about the Borax taking care of anything w/legs, lol. I’m dying to try it for mice, they drive me crazy!!

  56. Hi, we are having a sugar ant problem in my house, and I also have a messyalmost 3yo. The ants seem to be coming in where my kitchen sink meets the counter. Can I put some of this mixture in that corner and see what happens? I am seriously grossed out that they are on my counter…

  57. Michelle says:

    You are a LIFESAVER! … and this stuff is absolutely wonderful! Here’s my story…

    2 days ago, hubby found sugar ants, a lot of them, on our carpet by our table between our couches. Lord only knows what’s been spilled over there, as he’s pretty messy, along with our 2 and 3 year old. We immediately took action, flipping over the couches and breaking out the vacuum. Vacuumed them up and removed the side table and took it outside to be cleaned and such, in case that was what was attracting them. As we don’t keep any bug spray or killer of any kind in the house, since we don’t usually need it, I didn’t know WHAT to do. I started doing google searches. Got out spray bottles with white vinegar and started spraying the walls and baseboard with it, scrubbing down the walls and wiping off stray ants that hadn’t been vacuumed up. Broke out dish soap and water and a spray bottle and HAND WASHED the carpet over there, armed with some clean towels, my spray bottle, and elbow grease… a LOT of elbow grease. Finally after a couple hours, I hadn’t seen but maybe 5 ants, and thought maybe that had put them at bay and maybe, JUST MAYBE, we were home free. Little did I know what was coming next…

    The next morning, I woke up to find my kitchen counter, where my toaster oven and toaster sit, by the kitchen sink was now the center of their attention. UGH. I again, broke out the vinegar, dish soap and water, and began drowning the suckers in whatever was closest…. Being that we only have one vehicle and hubby was at work with ours and of COURSE, he had left his cell phone at home, I was getting super frustrated with what to do with these darn ants! I made a call to my Mom, asking her to bring bug spray, ant traps, and TERRO. She had prior obligations.. OF COURSE, I thought, of course. Google, here I come! After about 15 minutes, I came across this blog. You don’t realize how much agony, frustration, and stress this blog has prevented! Within 15 minutes of finding this blog, I had already threw together the concoction, and it was cooling. 30 minutes later, I was putting my girls down for a nap, pouring this homemade terro in the tupperware lids I had already got down, and setting 3 of these bait/traps in places I had seen/killed ants earlier. I figured there wasn’t much more I could do. I took the opportunity to nap while the girls were, after clearing everything, and I mean EVERYTHING I possibly could, off the counters in my kitchen. Woke up from my nap and those suckers were SWARMING one particular lid… Honestly, I let out an evil, EVIL laugh. It’s working, it’s working! It was an odd conversation with the hubby when he get home, explaining to him to leave the concoctions alone, and to leave the ants alone, as he’s looking at them all in disgust. BUT, I’m glad to say, I woke up this morning to MAYBE 20 ants between all 3 baits (comparing to the HUNDREDS yesterday morning). I will continue to leave this out for another 4 days or so, like you’re supposed to, and hope I don’t have this problem again, but knowing, if I do, I know EXACTLY what to do.

    Again, thank you SO MUCH. You’re a sanity saver. This stuff is a stay-at-home Mom’s DREAM when something like this happens.

  58. Hi Stacy! So we have a serious any problem, did the bait and we were ant free for a week. They are back in force! We poured boiling water over any nests we could find outside as well, still ants! I’m wondering after you initially put it out, did you keep putting it out as a continual kind of deterrent? We live in a very arid area and I’m wondering does it dry up if I just leave it out each week? Do you know how often I should keep putting it out? I am so grossed out and embarrassed when people come over! Help!

    • It does dry out, so you’d need to replace it. You can make a batch and keep it in an airtight container and it won’t dry out for a while.
      My ants have never come back after dying. You must have some pretty persnickity ants. :-)

  59. Abbey Normal says:

    Here is an interesting question. I have an ant problem but my ant problem isn’t affecting my house. It is affecting my beehive I have in the back yard. There are not a lot of ants, yet, but I can usually see 2 to 3 ants crawling around the outside of the hive. If they got inside I think the bees will kill them.
    Regardless I want to get rid of the ants but I don’t want to kill my bees. Both ants and bees like sweet substances and if I put anything sweet down for ants I’m afraid the bees will get into it. And I worry about the ants tracking the borax/sugar combination into the beehive.

  60. I’m not sure I would put it over there with the sugar in it. I don’t know much about bees though. :-(

  61. pignkitty says:

    today is the 2nd day since we put the bait out, only less then 1/4 of ants still around! So glad it works! thank you so much for the recipe, I blog about it with some pictures here:

  62. HOORAY!!!!

  63. Sarah Nikolic says:

    Just found this site! Whew! Glad to hear this stuff works…these ants are taking over my house and I can’t stand it! I did want to ask about “cleaning their sent trails?” I’m not sure if I can get to all the places they get in…could someone tell me the “whys” and will this still work if I can’t clean every entrance of theirs?

  64. I have little black ants in my kitchen area that seem to work on banker hours, after dark they hide. I’ve put out this mixture and i’ll wait and see. I have tried cornmeal, because I read that grits work to kill them by absorbing body moisture (only having cornmeal on hand) I have tried cinnamon and cyan pepper which worked on my porch but thats when they decided to take up residents in my kitchen. The worst was when my daughter and her friend were eating Lays Carolina BBQ chips and noticed ants on their clothes then looked in the bag and freaked out, ANTS peppered the chips and I’m not sure but they ( the teens ) may have consumed a few crawlies. Now we ziplock everything in our cabinets.

  65. This is day 3 and I still have ants. Yes, I make a fresh batch everyday.

  66. Those are pesky little boogers. I would press on. And maybe pour some scalding water on their bed if you can find it.

  67. Hi! I am current trying this out for the ants in my laundry room. They are definitely going for the syrup, but they just seem to be getting stuck and dying there…did I make the syrup too thick?

  68. Hmmmm, sounds like it. It might still work that way though. Keep me posted.

    • When I went back, those “stuck” ants were mostly gone. Guess they were just hanging out, vs stuck. :-) I still have a couple ants after 2 days, but I am optimistic! Way fewer than before…

  69. Thanks for this recipe! This quickly knocked out a colony that was aggravating me in the kitchen. I blogged, and linked to you, with pictures here:

  70. This works very well, even without boiling. I have ants every year, and this gets rid of them in a day or 2. Admittedly, bait placement was easier for me because I have pets but no kids. That being said…. for those of you who say that the ants kept on coming back or were not killed (assuming you are making the recipe correctly)
    * realize that you can have dozens of ants nest around your property. First the ants will send out scouts, and your house will be ‘blanketed’ by them, and as soon one of them makes a score, the rest will soon follow. So, you need to make several baits, as colonies will not share baits. You may get away with only making 2, 3, 4…. I usually make about 12 of them. At times I have had to put out about 20 of them, such as during heat waves in the middle of summer.
    * old house, new house, it makes no difference whatsoever. Ants will find a way in.
    * do not clean ant trails. It is a lot of work, and not likely to succeed. The molecules that ants use to leave scent trails are not soluble using anything that will not also eat away your skin, or are otherwise environmentally friendly. Plus, even if you were able to clean the trail on, say, the counter top or floor, you cannot clean the trail the ants leave inside the walls, so the result would be a blanket of a new wave of scouts, and you do not want that => you want them to make a beeline for the bait. An ant trail will evaporate naturally after a few days of disuse, so once you place the baits, the old trail will soon disappear.
    * know your ant. Not all ants are created equal. If the bait does not work, then you probably do not have water or sugar ants. If you are not sure, call an exterminator, or if you can, get a nice, clear, close-up picture and post it to an ant website and ask what kind they are, and go from there.
    * If you have pet dishes on the floor, use a heavy, ceramic food dish, and place it in a shallow tray filled with water. Size the food dish and ‘water trap’ so that the dog cannot slurp up the water. Water ants will walk right across the water and get to the food, but when they take their prize back into the water, they will be too heavy and drown. Also, The ants will not be able to leave a scent trail on the water, and when they die, they will leave a death scent that will tell other ants ‘don’t come here!’
    * you will likely need to replenish baits. One bait can kill an entire colony, but once the colony is dead, a new colony will form.
    * The poison fluid goes into a small plastic container with a lid (small cottage cheese containers, chip dip containers, etc) and poke holes in the lid with an ice pick, and then use duct tape to secure the lid, and I use a loop of duct tape on the bottom to affix it to whatever. Ants can get in the holes, kitty tongues cannot. If you have a dog, you may have to get creative with placement. My solution was to train my dogs to not eat the baits using red Christmas bows as the ‘do not eat this’ identifier.
    Good hunting!

  71. Hanging out in a death trap. Ha, ha!

  72. I have a tip for the brave to make the baits work faster – I put a few baits around where there used to be ants that have since migrated, not expecting much. Then I put a big one near the hole and ant trail where they were coming out of the wall. To get the ants to find the bait faster, I swept up a bunch with a hand held brush and a piece of paper and put them into the bait. Some survived, and the ones that did are already going back to the wall (less than 5 minutes later.) I also poured spoonfuls onto the ant beds in my yard and some other places so hopefully they won’t try to seek food in my home. Wish me luck!

  73. Hellllllp! :( I only have a small ant problem, so I halved the recipe… Well 3 mins must have been too long to boil, because it turned to a brown, super sticky thick mix. I let it cool and now it’s practically rock hard in my saucepan! How can I get it out? I won’t half the recipe next time!

    • I would try soaking it in some water overnight….or for a few days. It’s going to be rather hard to get out. :-( It should have been clear and pourable.

  74. This mixture of sugar and boric acid is really the ONLY thing that works….I have been battling ants for five years, since we built our home. I assumed they were sugar ants, but it turns out they are the new and improved Argentinian ants. Check out the base of your shrubs and trees outside – they climb them to eat the aphid waste!

    We had a horrible home invasion of ants the first year, controlled eventually by Terro traps (believe me, I tried all of the Windex, vinegar, cornmeal nonsense). The Terro traps are the same as your mixture, basically, and it works because they take it back to the nest and feed it to the queen. Problem is, you have to keep it up, because they have a gazillion eggs that aren’t affected by the first dose of poison.

    I have successfully rid my home of these pests, but continue to constantly treat the perimeter porches, deck and foundation stone. They particularly love to nest in my gutters (go figure!), so I have to have them cleaned regularly. We have almost an acre of property, and I have seen them everywhere! They are now in my mailbox out at the street….ugh, I hate them so much!!!!

    I put traps out in my vegetable garden this year, but worry about hummingbirds getting to them. Anyone know if they would be attracted to this mixture and/or affected by it?

  75. Thanks for being awesome!

  76. Thanks for sharing what you know. I’ve found that cutting a drinking straw into short pieces and shooting any bait in the center makes great bait stations.

  77. Hi, I was wondering if I could maybe get some advice…

    So I’ve been having a (seemingly) minor ant problem and I’m contemplating trying this out… I say “minor” because I’ve never really seen swarms–only 5-10 ants every now and then in my kitchen. I’ve since sealed up all my food and cleaned the places where the ants have been. However, I live in a condo so I really have no idea where they’re coming from. If I set these baits out and the ants crawl into this syrup then crawl away to wherever it is that they’re coming from, won’t that leave a trail of sugar between my place and wherever they’re coming from (which might eventually attract other ants–factoring in the possibility that there are other colonies in my building)? There’s no way I can adequately clean their trail after they’ve been in the syrup. Should I still try using this sugar borax solution?

  78. Jan Kimbell says:

    I saw a similar solution on the web, but liked your recipe better, seems more “substantial”! I did borrow from the 1st one, though, however, (I’ll get to that part in a sec), but thought I’d share what I came up with. I decided to use a small/miniature, 6-count muffin tray turned upside down.You are not putting the solution on any part that you’d use for food, it is very stable, the lip is flush to the ground and not tall. From the first recipe, I borrowed the idea of using cotton balls! Soak up (your recipe) solution in each ball, (obviously, it holds more because it is bigger and taller), then give a little squeeze as you place each one along the inside edge & inside row of the upside down muffin tin. If the squeeze doesn’t get enough solution on the surface, just add more. At night, or when you don’t want kids or cats or dogs to get at it, the muffin tin is easy to pick up and put on top of the fridge or some other safe place (the oven?). You may need to replenish in a few days depending on your own situation. Thought this method might appeal to some of you! In all other parts, Stacy Rules!

  79. I found a product called Best Bug Bait ( in Texas. Same concept and inexpensive. Worked like crazy on ants, and other bugs. They have it the Dallas Whole Foods now.

  80. I’ve been using this for years. If and when they pop back up it will stop them dead. I put mine in an old maple syrup bottle, and use 1/4 index card.

  81. Ooo! I’m starting to have an ant problem. The apartment manager will send chemical spray if I complain, but I want to try to get rid of them naturally. I’ll have to try this! I already own Borax for my homemade dishwasher detergent.

    And fortunately my cat isn’t a huge fan of sugar. My mother’s cat, though, LOVES sugar and will chew through plastic wrap to get to the candy my mom makes.


  82. Tiny Buggers says:

    I so your post and thought this might be the answer to our problems. I made the mixture yesterday and put out about 4 or 5 lids with the solution on them. The ants took right to them. I left them out over night and found them in the morning to be even more popular. I decided to clean the areas up. When I picked up the first lid all of the ants ran for the hills, I thought they were all dead! I threw out all of the lids and washed the areas down with Windex. I decided to make another batch this morning and I doubled the amount of Borax I used from yesterday, thinking I did not put in enough. The little buggers took to the new solution just like yesterday.
    My question is how long do you leave the lids with the solution out? My kids are old enough to leave them alone and no pets.
    Thank you.

    • myersbr2 says:

      It’s great news they are taking to it. Keep it up! 4-5 days is sometimes needed to have them start dying. They’ll eat it, take it back to the nest and die there. They don’t die immediately; the borax takes a bit of time to do its job. You’ll see a huge boost in ant traffic for a day or two, then 4-5 days later you’ll find there are almost none (maybe none at all).

  83. can this be outside by your home ??

  84. Barbara says:

    Does this work for the black, larger ants? We have always called them “carpenter ants”. I’m not sure they are attracted to sugar….

  85. For a kid and pet friendly solution, try sprinkling liberal amounts of cinnamon wherever the ants are getting inside. It totally works! We had ants in the cat food; I poured cinnamon in the windowsill and across the door threshold (smelled great!) and the ants haven’t been back since.

  86. When the ants are gone do you pick it up or do you leave it out all the time? They just invaded my sons cereal.

  87. I tried this method and the ants here must not be sugar ants but grease ants. Do you have another natural and economical mix for grease ants? Thank you in advance!

    • I’m sorry…I have never heard of grease ants? I hope you can find a good solution!

    • I know what you mean Jules. Carpenter ants are grease, wood, and glue ants. Sugar ants are the tiny ones. I’ve been using Borax as a powder where ants travel so that they get it on themselves and take it back to the nest and when they clean it off they die.

    • Maybe peanut butter?

    • Nancy Baker says:

      Mix the Borax with a dollop of peanut butter and “spread” it on the back of an index card before placing it near your grease ant’s trail. Most will be drawn to the peanut butter and once they ingest it they have eaten the Borax, too.

  88. Lindsay Clarke says:

    Will the ants not fall into the water and drown?

  89. Lindsay says:

    Will the ants drown in this if they go in the caps?

  90. I have been sprinkling baby powder, and it works for several days…but they still come back eventually. It only seems to work temporarily. I will try this since it sounds like it gets to the root of the problem…killing them all the way back to the nest! Wish me blessings on this!

  91. Dorothy Dunham says:

    Is this for outside?…..for fire ants?

  92. I like to be a little more forceful. A hammer works nicely.

  93. Some ants go for sugar, and some for protein. I’ve even heard that they cycle depending on the needs of the colony. After looking at several blogs and sites, trying 50/50 vinegar, cinnamon, etc. here’s what has worked best for me so far. Cut up an egg carton, so that you have 6 little 2-hole cups. I used 2 mixtures; one in each hole. The first mixture was made with 10 tablespoons of maple syrup mixed with 3/4 teaspoon of Borax, heated slightly in the microwave to help with mixing. Stacy’s sugar mixture should work equally well. (Note: Borax and Boric Acid ARE NOT the same thing. Boric acid, while effective, is not at all safe to have around pets or children. As noted in some of the other comments, you would have to ingest large quantities of Borax to be harmed.) The second mixture was made with 4 tablespoons of peanut butter mixed with 3/4 teaspoon of Borax. I’ve also heard that bacon grease works for this as well, but haven’t tried it. Put a couple of spoonfuls of the sweet mix in one side of the 2-hole cup, and a couple of spoonfuls of the PB mix in the other. Place the traps at strategic points around the outside of your home. Allow the ants to get to and from the bait freely. Don’t kill them, and don’t clean their trails. This is crucial, since you WANT the ants to take the poisoned goodies back to the colony. Replace the traps as necessary to ensure that the ants can still get the goods and it hasn’t dried out. Baiting in this way avoids the possibility, or in my case, likelihood, that you will waste sugar on ants who want fat, and vice versa. I haven’t eradicated them yet, since I just started this treatment yesterday and only put out 3 traps, but I did notice the almost immediate effect that I no longer have a massive trail of ants in my office! They are definitely taking the bait, I’m just not sure if I might need to up the quantity of Borax in the mixes. Some say if you get too much in there, they won’t take it anymore. I’ll try to update in the coming days on how it goes.

  94. Tasha Wood says:

    Does this work for ants with wings? I have a swarm

  95. Dena Darling-McBean says:

    food grade Demetrious Earth works well also and you don’t need a lid. you can put it behind fridges microwaves. It even kills cockroaches and spiders just make sure it is food grade and not pool grade. Most feed stores have it and you can order it on like also. I have used that for years you can add it to water and spray the outside around your house and they don’t cross the line then. I have used it for a few years now and best product I have seen and fairly cheap also.
    woks for all kinds of Ants and other garden bugs also.

  96. I get that one bottle is marked V for vinegar, so what’s in the “P”, because the only P you mentioned was pickles, and I know they are really hard to fit through a spray bottle… Also thanks for the recipe! I am going to mix some up for around the outside of my home, and combine that with a spray bottle of Cinnamon oil / water to spray around inside and at possible entry points as an additional deterrent. Haven’t tried that one yet either, but I figure at the very worst it will smell nice and do nothing.

  97. FANTASTIC! My home was just overrun with ants, coming in in two places in the kitchen and one in the bathroom. After months of spraying them with windex and having store-bought traps set out to absolutely no avail, I tried this. It’s super-easy and it WORKS. A little over 24 hours after setting out several bait stations, the ants are reduced to about 5 %. I began with stations at the terminal trail points and also nearer the entry points for all three infestations (I think there was more than one nest). The bathroom trail and one of the kitchen trails went right for the sugar mixture, but the heavy trail that had infested the dog food was likely from a diff nest that had more of a grease need so I mixed in a daub of peanut butter. 24 hours later I removed the stations at the ends of the trails, washed them out, and cleaned with vinegar, then washed out and replaced only the stations near the entry points. This stuff does dry out to the point that the ants will just walk right across it so it needs to be replenished every 12 hours or so in my experience. (I just kept a lid on the pot I had cooked it in, and poured more from that. One batch seems to have taken care of all of them… I know I will have stragglers for a few days and plan to leave the washed and replenished stations out for the duration.) Thanks Stacy! This worked when nothing else would (wasn’t about to go for fumigation)/ The infestation was so awful that food preparation was nearly impossible, even when cleaning entire kitchen first. They were also going for the water in my toilet and — gross– every time I had to use it I’d have to lift the lid and clean the ants first. It was a nightmare and no amount of cleaning was working. I have got my house back!

  98. Stephanie says:

    This worked perfectly! Put it out two nights in a row, and ants are 95% gone. I have seen about a dozen in the past five days. I’m going to put out some more tonight, but I’m really pleased with the results so far. Thank you!
    P.S. I only had brown sugar, so I used that.

  99. This morning I woke up and came downstairs to a ton of ants on my kitchen counter by the sink. I’m sure I killed over 50 or more. I was not only grossed out but furious that I had to spend my Saturday dealing with us. I found your blog & made the mixture & put in some refillable ant traps we had from killingsworth who thankfully destroyed a GIGANTIC any colony in out yard last year. So I filled the ant traps with the borax/sugar/water mixture & in less than an hour we have dozens of ants going back & forth between one of the traps & the wall outlet where they’re going in & out. Yay!!!! I know it could take a couple of days but I’m certain that it will work! Thanks so much! BTW, I put the extra mixture in a small Gatorade bottle that I thoroughly rinsed out. I have enough to refill the 4 traps for the whole season I think!

  100. Dave Vensel Sr says:

    I want to use this outside, but there is a stray cat that I feed. Should I be concerned for her safety?

  101. Corisa Ford says:

    My mom had problems with ants for 5 years, I put the stuff in her house she hasn’t had a problem for two years. Now I’m over run at my new house and purposely looked up this recipe because I know it works. It works for any self cleaning bug ants roaches spiders anything that cleans themselves

  102. Karen Johnson says:

    I just made up a batch of this tonight – we have the little red ants that smell like poison when you kill them. I will keep you posted if it works – I found the Boric Acid at my local hardware store – for cheaper than Tarro! I sincerely hope this works as I am about at my wits end. I won’t use the chemical stuff. Keep your fingers crossed!

  103. Lank Thompson says:

    I’ve seen the same mixture but minus the boiling. I like boiling because it mixes everything better but I noticed this year the ants aren’t all that hyped about it. As if they know now. Have you run into this at all.

  104. Charlotte Flader says:

    Is the mixture still effective when it’s reaaaally sticky? It seems like now that it’s completely cooled that it formed in the lid it is in and some ants went in and can’t get out…do they still eat it and take it back to the best when it’s a thick sticky gel??

  105. Hi Stacy, Thank you so much for sharing. Heh, I am really lazy. Do I need to boil the mixture for it to be effective? Or can I just mix the borax and sugar and set it out. Thank you, Lovise

  106. Sushmita S Sen says:

    Hi…i have just moved into an old house that sits right in the middle of a huge garden. Needless to say i was plagued with red ants that seemed to be taking over the house! After trying all kinds of remedies, I finally remembered an age-old Indian custom of storing rice and lentils and keeping them insect-free with dried roots of turmeric. I got some from my local grocer and have used them liberally all over the house…and hey presto! it works! Just wanted to share this.

  107. Donthe Gasman says:

    I’m into my 5th day using this stuff. These guys just keep coming back for more. I realize my home is infested with these guys and it’s going to take a little while, but I just can’t get rid of the idea that I’m providing the ants free food.

    • Just hang in there. They are coming in droves for it…and that’s what you want. You’ll find pretty soon that they’ll stop coming. And you’ll also notice they aren’t around your house anymore. Here’s to hoping the “free buffet” is ultimately your treat and not theirs. :)

  108. Where we live we have a problem with not only sugar ants, but grease ants as well. Although they usually eat almost anything they were avoiding our homemade sweet mixture. After a little looking around we found a recipe using peanut butter instead of sugar. It definitely did the job. So if this mixture isn’t working for you, try testing to see which types of food your ants are attracted — protein and fats or sugar. A bit of peanut butter and a bit of jelly left where the ants can find it will give you your answer!

  109. I use this anytime I notice ants, but also take the opportunity to follow the ant trail and put silicone caulk where they enter. Eventually, you will get all of the entry points blocked and you don’t have to bother with it.

  110. I made this Sunday and hoped it would work quickly as we had family coming over the next day for a cookout and planned on eating inside where ir was nice and cool. The next day I only saw a couple ants, instead of the little ant highway on the counter and the wall. I’ve used Terro for years but this is cheaper and I think it worked more quickly. I also had hubby put soda cans with the syrup in them outside. Great tip. Thanks for the recipe!

  111. Hi Stacy. I just made a batch of this stuff exactly how you mention, however, after it cooled, the ant killer developed a film on top. Also, I have noticed that with every dollop of the stuff, it immediately develops a film on top and the ants cannot get to it. how can I fix this problem with the ant killer?

    • They are usually able to get to it before it develops a film – usually my film doesn’t come for a day or so…and then I just replace it with new. If it gets a film of it in the container, I just skim that part off.

  112. Okay so I made this today, but I used a little more borax in the mixture. Anyways, how long do i let it sit after i boiled it for 3 minutes? It still looks clear just like the store bought traps.

  113. Lessa Ennis says:

    Can I store the mixture?

    • You can for a while, yes. But it doesn’t do well for long term. Make sure it’s in a sealed container for storage.

  114. Erica Ricky Kennedy says:

    We haven’t kept white sugar in the house for many years. Can I use Palm Sugar?

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