Best Homemade Natural Ant Killer

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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…..it 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, you need borax, sugar, and water. That’s it.

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.

Before you put this 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!”

Take this cooled 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.


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.

This post is linked at Frugal Days Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable and at Works for Me Wednesday on We Are That Family.

Testimonials:

  • 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

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.


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 two children, Annie (June 2009) and Andy (August 2012). 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, Twitter, Instagram and more to keep up with her daily antics.

  • http://just-ask-kim.com/ Kimberly Castleberry

    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: http://happyhomemag.com/ant-killer-recipe/

    • Stacy

      Thanks so much for the link love! I’m very honored. :-)

  • Mike

    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!

    • Stacy

      They ALWAYS find a way in…no fortress can stop them!

  • Stacy

    Hanging out in a death trap. Ha, ha!

  • Maps

    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!

    • Stacy

      How did it work out??

  • Becky

    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!

    • Stacy

      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.

  • Linley

    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?

    • Stacy

      I’m not sure – I don’t know much about birds. :-(

  • JB

    Thanks for being awesome!

    • Stacy

      I’m gonna tell my husband you said that. LOL