When you’ve got ants in your home, it can feel like they’re practically impossible to get rid of. Nothing seems to work, but you may not have tried everything yet. There are tons of products out there on the market, with so many to choose from that you may feel overwhelmed.
Instead of trying all of those, you may be wondering if you are able to use borax as an ant killer. Before you try though, it’s important to learn more about borax and the nature of these pesky ants first.
Table of Contents
- Why Are Ants So Hard to Kill?
- Why You Need to Get Rid of Ants
- So, what is Borax and What Is It Usually Used For?
- How Borax Acts as An Ant Killer
- How to Use Borax to Kill Ants: Step by Step Instructions
- Is Borax for Ants Safe for Pets?
- How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally – 5 Other Natural Ant Killers
Why Are Ants So Hard to Kill?
When the warm weather hits, you might suddenly notice ants everywhere. You might see them outdoors near your home, or even within your home itself. So why are ants so notoriously hard to kill?
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1. Strength in Numbers
To put it simply, one of the biggest difficulties with ants has to do with the fact that they live in colonies of hundreds of thousands. There are so many that it’s tough to actually kill them all.
Even if you locate the nest and destroy it, all the ants that were out foraging will survive and live to plague you another day.
2. Difficult to Find
Ants usually build their colonies in places where you can’t easily access, like underground, behind cabinets, inside walls and under pavements. If you can’t find them, your task of killing them will obviously be a lot harder.
Ants are smart enough to move when they’ve been disturbed. They will quickly relocate to a safer place when you do find them, making it even more difficult to figure out where they’ve moved to and eliminate them.
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4. Less Potency
The problem with commercial pesticides is that they are often not strong enough. They don’t have the same potency as professional products to, so they might kill a few dozen ants. However, they won’t have any effect on the thousands of other ants you need to get rid of.
If you use these types of products repeatedly, ants can even begin developing immunity.
Why You Need to Get Rid of Ants
Ants can be annoying, but there are more reasons than that to get them out of your home. If you don’t clean them out, you can be in for even more serious problems in the future, depending on the type of ant.
If you have carpenter ants in your home, these can be very destructive. They love damp and dark places and will begin chewing drywall and wood. Since you don’t see these ants for a while after they invade, they can cause significant damage before you even know they exist.
Fire ants can do the same to you and your pets. These ants are very aggressive and will attack both you and your pets. Their bites are painful and can even be so serious that you may need to be hospitalized.
There is luckily no version of the super ant, but ants can definitely be a super big problem. They work together to achieve the same goal, but they are not homogenous insects.
Some of them have wings, some bite and sting, some have strong jaws and others will even chew up larger objects. Over time, these many types of ants can cause serious damage.
So, what is Borax and What Is It Usually Used For?
If you’ve taken a couple chemistry classes, you may know what borax is already. Known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, borax is a boron compound.
To put it simply, borax is a natural mineral and can refer to a group of related compounds, depending on the water content. Usually, powdered borax will be white and will look like soft colorless crystals that will dissolve in water.
When you buy it commercially, it will be partially dehydrated.
- In Products
If you read the ingredients in many of your cleaning products, like detergents, you’ll see borax listed there. You might also find borax in cosmetics and enamel glazes, in buffer solutions in biochemistry as a fire retardant as well as an antifungal compound.
- Pest Control
Many people have begun using borax to keep ants, water bugs and cockroaches away. Spraying sugar and borax in equal parts can deter bugs, while sprinkling sodium borate on floors can get rid of rats.
You are also able to apply it to the carpet to get rid of fleas and leave it there for an hour before vacuuming to keep it away.
Borax can be used as a dishwasher detergent if you mix one tablespoon of it with equal parts baking soda. People have also used it to clean outdoor furniture, toilets, porcelain and stains from stainless steel.
It works great as an all-purpose cleaner in laundry and on the walls and floors too.
- For Pets and Trash
If you’re seeking to get rid of the smell of kitty litter, you are able to add a few tablespoons of borax to the litter box. The same can be done for your trash, fridge, or to remove urine stains and smells on mattresses or carpets.
How Borax Acts as An Ant Killer
Borax kills ants by interfering with their digestive system. It won’t kill them immediately, but it works gradually to work overtime.
The speed at which the borax works is long enough for the ant to get back to its colony and share the poisoned bait with its fellow ants, effectively killing most, if not all, of them.
You may be doubtful about how toxic borax can be to ants because it’s a pretty common ingredient in household items like soap or toothpaste. However, while it has low toxicity for humans and larger animals, it has largely disruptive effects on ants.
Plus, it’s still toxic for humans or small animals, but only if critical amounts are ingested. It’s still pretty irritating when it gets in contact with your eyes, so it’s not totally harmless to humans or pets. As a matter of fact, some ant baits use borax as their active ingredient.
How to Use Borax to Kill Ants: Step by Step Instructions
Borax alone will not be enough to entice an ant to consume it, much less think of it as food. In other words, you’ll need to mix it in with something more enticing. For this reason, use other foodstuff like powdered sugar or sweet syrup to bait the ants with.
– For Ants Inside the House
- Gather borax, white sugar, any kind of syrup and water.
- The recipe will need a 1:3 ratio of borax and sugar – mix these two ingredients first.
- Mix water in roughly the same amount as the borax. Mix just enough to your borax-sugar mixture to make it thick. You’ll need a pasty consistency, not runny.
- You’ll need to get the borax powder to dissolve in the water, so stir it in slowly to your borax-sugar mixture. It can help to use warm water for better dissolution.
- Then, add syrup into your mixture. It can be any measurement, depending on what you want.
- Mix until the entire thing is of one color.
- Put the mixture into small containers that you are able to cover. You are able to reuse old plastic containers for homemade house traps.
- Drill small holes into these containers just enough to act as both an entrance and exit for your ants.
- Afterwards, put the mixture in the containers.
- Cover the traps then set them up somewhere you know ants already are in your home.
– For Ants Outside the House
- Put a roofing nail through the center of a bottle cap; this will act as the ground anchor of your outdoor ant bait.
- Cut the bottom portion of a used plastic water bottle and use it as a bowl for your mixture.
- Add a 5% jelly solution to your powdered borax and stir together well.
- Spoon the borax-jelly mixture into the bottle caps that you made or you are also able to mount them on the ground outside first before putting the mixture in them.
– Other Tips
- The indoor solution can also work for outdoor ants as long as you put the traps where the elements can’t get to them. For instance, don’t drill holes on the cover, as rain water can mess with your mixture.
- You need to make use of heavier traps so that they don’t get blown away by the wind.
- Likewise, the jelly-borax powder mixture can also work for indoor ants. Just use the indoor traps to secure them.
- Adjust your borax in the outdoor formulation accordingly. There’s too much if most of the dead ants are around the trap. That means they didn’t get to bring the spoils back to the colony, so try a mixture with less borax next time.
- Similarly, there might be too little borax in your mixture if it’s been a while and the traps don’t seem to have worked.
- Place the traps away from the access of humans (especially children) and pets. This is because your child might accidentally rub it in their eyes, which children are prone to do.
Is Borax for Ants Safe for Pets?
Thankfully, a borax mixture is much safer compared to commercial insecticides with harmful ingredients that are unsafe for your family and pets. It’s a natural mineral that won’t harm your pets, even if they do ingest a little.
Borax can be metabolized by your pets’ bodies, so if they end up ingesting some of it, they’ll be safe. However, make sure that your dog or cat isn’t getting everything in the traps, as too much borax in your pet’s system might still cause some problems over time.
This is where the traps come in handy, particularly the covered ones. The drilled holes will ensure that the ants can get in and out of them with the sugary sweet borax, but your child or pet won’t be able to have a similarly easy access.
Nonetheless, if your pet has a habit of getting into places where it shouldn’t, it would be good to take measures to keep it away from your traps altogether.
How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally – 5 Other Natural Ant Killers
If you try other ways together to get rid of ants naturally, here are five more natural ant killers that are relatively easy to find.
Ants function as a highly-trained army. Foragers go out of the nests to discover food and mark their route using pheromones. Other ants use their antennae to smell the path and follow them to the source of food.
Essential oils tend to interfere with this type of communication, as they mask scent trails and make it impossible for ants to find their way around. Some of the most effective ones are peppermint, tea tree and clove essential oil.
To get the ants out of your house and yard, place a few drops of oil on cotton balls and wipe down the entry points.
Then, leave some of the cotton balls in pantries, cabinets and other places you have seen ants or think they might show up. Repeat this process every few days, until they are completely gone.
Clove essential oil is particularly strong and it should always be used in small amounts, mixed with some other carrier oil. In addition to disrupting the communication, it is also a fast-acting contact insecticide, thanks to its main component, Eugenol.
Have no concerns, as it acts quickly and leaves no harmful residues, although its scent will linger for hours in the room.
Another substance that is toxic for ants but not harmful for the environment – pets and humans alike – is d-limonene, which can be found in citrus essential oils. Like any other essential oil, this one masks their scent trails as well.
You are able to use these oils on cotton balls to wipe around the places you see them appear and spread them across the surfaces with food and possible entry points.
In addition to that, you are also able to mix them with water, alcohol and other essential oils to make an effective ant away spray.
If you don’t have citrus essential oils around your home, you are able to use your lemon, orange and grapefruit peels to make a natural ant repellent. Simply add peels to a pot, pour ½ water and ½ vinegar.
Heat the pot until steaming and allow it to cool down overnight. Then, drain and pour the liquid in a spray bottle.
Powdered substances will both attack their exoskeleton and dry them out, or they will act from the inside, inflating their bodies until they die. It sounds cruel, but it does exactly what other insecticides do, but with no harmful side effects on you and your family.
One of these substances is Diatomaceous Earth (DE), a powder made out of fossilized planktons. It binds to the waxy coating of the ant’s exoskeleton, dehydrates it and kills them within a few days. On the other hand, this substance is completely safe for humans.
You should use it around possible entry points – such as doorways and window sills – and on your rugs, carpets and any other places you have seen them appear.
Going to the garden and putting down a ring of DE around anthills will ensure that most of the colony will soon be affected as well. Uncooked farina is another substance deadly for ants, but safe to consume by humans.
When ants eat it, it will expand inside of them and cause their death soon after. Put about a tablespoon of uncooked cream of wheat, mixed with a little bit of powdered sugar wherever you have seen ants appear.
You are also able to use it around the ant hills in your garden. However, make sure the ground is dry first. Another commonly used substance is baking soda.
As it is not very attractive to the ants on its own, it is usually mixed with powdered sugar or another sweetener to attract the ants and make them eat it. After consumption, it causes a reaction to their bodies and they quickly die.
Last but not the least, black pepper is an efficient natural repellent as well. Just sprinkle it wherever you have seen ants and around possible entry points to your home too.
Vinegar may be used on its own, as its properties will prevent ants when sprayed around the areas they appear. The smell of vinegar interferes with their communication. The best results are achieved by mixing it with some other substances, such as essential oils or citrus peels.
If you wish to be effective and go for the source, you are able to pour boiling water directly to the anthill in your garden.
Ants are very persistent pests, as they multiply fast and are as efficient and organized as a real army. If you don’t treat the problem right away, soon it may become very serious and out of your hands. Try using borax to resolve your ant problem and avoid the need for professional help.