Top 6 DIY Homemade Ant Traps (and How to Use Them)

A group of ants trapped in a circle with one separated on the white.

It’s easy to go to the local home and garden store, and buy a pack of ant traps. And most of the time, they work well.A group of ants trapped in a circle with one separated on the white.

But do you really want to put poison around your home? I didn’t think so.

The good news is that making your own ant traps is easy: take something ants love and mix it with something that kills them.

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We’re going to share several recipes you can try and some tips on how to actually use your homemade ant trap:

Homemade Ant Bait Recipes

There are several ways to get rid of ants using natural or simple ingredients that you already have in your home.

Ants usually love one (or more) of the following:

  • Sweets
  • Grease
  • Protein

This is what will actually attract the ants. You’ll mix one of these with a substance that kills ants to effectively destroy the nest.

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Use these recipes to make your own traps:

1. Borax and Sugar

The most common and effective homemade ant killer is borax. But to get the ants to take the bait, you’ll need to mix it with something sweet: sugar.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. borax (boric acid)
  • 2 cups sugar

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan on the stove. Bring to boil for three minutes. Allow it to cool completely. The mixture will begin to thicken as it cools.

The end result is a lot like Terro ant baits, which is one of the most popular conventional ant traps.

2. Borax and JamLarge piles of borax stored near an agricultural chemical plant resemble snowy mountains.

Similar to the previous recipe, this mixture combines both borax and jam (something sweet) to attract and kill ants.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp. borax
  • Jam or jelly (honey will work, too)

Combine the borax with just enough jam (jelly, or honey) to make a paste. Spread the paste on a piece of paper or a covered container that has holes in it.

If you find that the ants are eating the bait but are only getting fatter, increase the amount of boric acid in the mixture.

3. Borax and Peanut Butter

If your ants prefer protein over sweets, a mixture of peanut butter and borax will do the trick. You can also use bacon grease if you don’t have peanut butter.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp. borax
  • Peanut butter

Mix the two ingredients until it forms a paste. Spread the paste on a paper plate, piece of paper or some other container, and place it along the ant trail.

4. Molasses, Sugar and Yeast

Unlike the other traps on our list, this one doesn’t actually use borax to kill ants. But you’ll still need to give the ants a chance to bring the bait back to the nest.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. yeast
  • 2 tbsp. molasses

Mix these three ingredients together, and place dollops of the mixture on the plates along the trail.

5. Dish Soap, Oil and Water

A simple combination of oil, soap and water attracts the ants, traps them, and drowns them.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tsp. cooking oil
  • 1 tsp. dishwashing soap

Mix these three ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray the ants and the entry point to create a barricade.

The only issue with this recipe is that it ants won’t take it back to the nest, so you won’t kill the colony this way. But you will kill any stragglers if you’re trying to finish off the nest after you’ve set another bait along the trail.

6. Baking Soda and Powdered Sugar

This recipe attracts ants with the powdered sugar, and the baking soda destroys them. It interacts with the acid in their digestive systems, and causes them to explode.

The great thing about this recipe is that ants can’t tell the difference between the sugar or the baking soda because they’re similar in size.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 part powdered sugar
  • 1 part baking soda

Place the mixture along the ant trail, at the entry point or problem area.

Because this mixture is non-toxic, you won’t have to take as many precautions when placing near children or pets. But if you’d rather be safe, you can place the mixture on a piece of paper or jar lid.

How to Use DIY Ant Bait

You’ve created your own bait – now what? Where do you put it? How soon will it start working?

Where to Put the BaitTermites are eating bait.

Pay attention to where the ants are coming from. Follow the trail, if there is one. If there isn’t a trail, look for openings or cracks near the spot you found the ants.

The goal here is to place the bait where they’ll find it.

A typical house ant is an odorous house ant (commonly found in kitchens) that leaves behind a pheromone trail. That trail is what his colony mates find and follow to the goods (usually sweets).

Placing the bait along this trail will help the ants find the poison quickly, and take it back to the nest.

Setting the trap in a random place in your home won’t be effective – or it will take a long time for the ants to find it.

How soon will the bait start working?

As long as you let the ants take the bait back to the nest (resist the temptation to squash those few stragglers), the bait will start working fairly quickly. Most people see a significant reduction in the number of ants they see after just a few days.

Keeping the Ants from Coming Back

Give the bait some time to start working. Once you notice a dramatic reduction in the number of ants in your home, it’s time to start taking actions to prevent them from coming back.

Now that you know where the trail is, keep the area clean. Use vinegar to clean these areas, which will destroy the ant’s pheromone trail.

One last trick: sprinkle cinnamon along the former entry point to prevent the ants from coming back. Ants hate cinnamon – they won’t go anywhere near it.

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