ants on homemade trap

This spring we had our usual invasion of ants. In a hurry to rid our house of the these pests, I purchased those terrible, expensive, poisonous ant traps at the supermarket. I tried a total of 3 different brands/types, but the traps did not work, mainly because the ants were not attracted to the bait. So out of desperation, I looked online for natural ant traps and found a bunch of recipes. Basically you need a bait (honey) and a poison (Borax), and the ratio of each must include enough bait to attract the ants and taste good and just enough poison to eventually kill them. Below is the recipe that worked best at our house. It was magical (and very cheap). I should have started with the natural homemade solution first – silly me.

  • 1 tablespoon of hot water
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of borax

Place the ingredients in a small glass jar, shake to mix. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture, slightly squeeze out the excess liquid, and put the cotton ball on a small lid. Place the ant trap where you see the most ants. After the ants have disappeared, discard the cotton ball and keep the lid for reuse. This method got rid of our ants in 24-36 hours. The recipe will be enough to make about 3 ant traps, and you can keep the extra solution in a jar with a tight lid for at least a month.

Note about Vegan-ness: No, honey is not vegan. Nor does killing ants follow my vegan philosophy of loving kindness. I am open to suggestions on controlling house ants without killing them. Also, I think corn syrup may work as well as honey. We had honey in the house because I received it as a gift from a bee keeper friend. I enjoy honey in my tea, but I don’t purchase it.

Note about Borax: Yes, borax is a poison so as with any ant trap, keep this away from pets and children. Do not let your toddler lick the ant trap like a lollipop or your dog gobble it down as a treat. But rest assure, Borax it is not acutely poisonous to humans and a large dose of borax is needed to cause severe symptoms. According the MSDS for 20 Mule Team® Borax, acute toxicity is 2.66g/kg of body weight in rats (this is the LD50 or the dose needed to kill 50% of rats). Using that info, the lethal dose for a 15 pound child would be about 18 grams. The 1/2 teaspoon of Borax in this entire recipe weighs 2 grams.


28 comments untill now

  1. I still struggle with categorizing bugs as animals, so I won’t hold killing ants and having honey in your cupboard against you. Ants are nasty and bees will sting you if given the chance…nuisance!

  2. Thanks Julie! :)

  3. Jo Dollarhyde @ 2009-07-28 18:16

    I’ve read peppermint oil around entry points can deter ants from coming in.

  4. Carruthers @ 2009-08-04 10:09

    Cinnamon powder will repell ants add a bit of calcium powder even better.

  5. I’ve also heard about peppermint oil keeping them away.

  6. Ants are ANIMALS. Killing animals is NOT vegan. We have no right to decide which animals we like and therefore deserve to live – that’s no better than people who don’t mind cows dying but are opposed to harming “cute” and “cuddly” animals like rabbits and dogs.

    As far as how you can actually deter ants without torturing them (which is exactly what honey will do, it’s like setting a glue trap for a bird or rodent):
    Paprika is supposed to be the easiest and best deterrent — sprinkle a line across the ants’ entryway, but be careful where it is sprinkled because it can stain when it gets wet.

    Ants also dislike the herbs pennyroyal, lavender, garlic and a liquid preparation of ferns. Try liberal applications of these (the more concentrated the better) on a regular basis.

  7. Marcos – Thank you for your comment. I agree ants are animals and deserve the same right to life as all creatures, but I draw the line when they INSANELY invade my home. Years prior, I tried many natural ant repellents (including vinegar, soapy water, herbal sprays, hot pepper, and borax), and my ants completely ignored them. They walked through the repellents and kept coming. I keep a very clean house and all food is sealed. I have not tried paprika and will the next time there is an invasion.

    We live by the dietary vegan definition (consume no animals products). As far as our other life style choices, we try to limit our impact on the earth and animals as much as possible. Honey and borax is a solution to my situation that I can live with. It is the lesser of many evils. If the ants stay out of my home, they are not harmed. If they enter my home, they sip some honey/borax cocktail (it is not sticky like a glue trap), and die rather quickly.

    I will let you know if I have success with the paprika, but I think we many need to wait until next spring to try it.

  8. I am not a vegetarian/vegan, etc, but I respect life. I prefer to shoo things out of my house rather than kill them. But, if any unwanted living invades my home, if it won’t leave, I will kill it if it won’t stay out. Depending on the season and area, bugs come in for food, warmth, water and shelter. It’s impossible to plug every hole to keep them out. Finding ants in one’s house has nothing to do with cleanliness. Crumbs just make it that much more attractive to stay.

  9. Thanks for your comment Jimmy. I agree completely. We had a terrible stink bug invasion this year. My husband and I tossed each one outside without harming them. It was manageable and they did not try to eat our food. Ants are a whole different story!

  10. Hey, Ant lovers/haters!

    The best way to get rid of all insect/arachnid pests is to invite the local colony of Army ants to invade your house. We’ve got a colony located somewhere up on the hill from us, and they visit about 1 a month during our summer. They are awesome! It’s a little unnerving having 1000s of these giant ants all over the walls, floors, ceilings, garden ect. But they normally take-off after about 2 hours, leaving the house completely clean of insects and spiders. I mean every nook and cranny is wiped clean! I know this isn’t what everyone is looking for but I thought it was more “Discovery Channel” style of pest control.
    (I forgot to mention that we live in the jungles of Costa Rica!)

  11. If all your food is sealed and your kitchen is perfectly clean: what harm are the ants doing?Wouldn’t they naturally leave when they find out there’s not a reliable source of food? I believe so,and I wouldn’t be bothered to try to kill a whole colony just because I don’t like seeing them or can’t wait for them to leave. I am not bothered to see some ants in my house,every now and then, since they are harmless little animals (as long as you keep your food well stored) as they said they usually come in and back out in a couple of hours. I’ve tried providing a food source for them in the garden (leaving cookie crumbles and fruit near the house,in small amounts) and it actually worked quite well. They are under there all around and they won’t risk wandering around inside your house if they have a more convenient foor source.

    And by the way, there’s no such thing as a “dietary vegan”. You might be 100% vegetarian, if you eat only plants but that doesn’t make you a vegan. Veganism is a lifestyle that goes beyond diet. Ants are harmless as long as you clean and store food properly, in my opinion killing them is unnecessary.

  12. Hi,
    I had an ant problem 6 or 7 years ago…I perused online for effective DETERENTS. I found Vinegar struck me as a cheap solution.
    I poured 4 Gallons of vinegar around the base of my home, near the kithcen side of course….They still kept coming. The next year however, a surprising thing happened. No Ants at all. Not one! Since then we have not had any ants in our house (well maybe one or two).
    Alas, this year we have ants :(
    I am going to try the vinegar again, and set up honey/borax traps.

    (BTW, please for the love of all that is sacred in your life…Don’t consider any invader an animal. You must protect your grounds, as all animals and creatures do. If you want to preach about life, well a virus is a lifeform no matter how you look at it. My vegan uncle died at 62, my smoking drinking cake and meat eating gramma is 96 and still a home body. Her happiness and healthy MIND keeps her atop of things not a diet or life style choice. Trust me, LOVE and GRATITUDE will keep you healthier than ANY diet.)

  13. Hi Timmay, Thank you for the vinegar suggestion and your comments. I agree that love and gratitude are so important. :)

  14. Mystique @ 2012-06-22 15:44

    Thanks for sharing your experience. My in-laws have ants all over the kitchen and pantry, and we have houseflies. I’m looking for ways to rid our homes of these pests. I am not a true vegan because I do consume honey, and I have a healthy respect for life of all levels of creation. However the lives of animals do not outweigh the lives of human beings. If a poisonous spider was in my home I would kill it. If a lion was chasing a person and I had to kill it in order to save the person, I would. I think that the true value of veganism is not killing animals for our convenience or consumption, but people sound a little fanatical when they say, “killing animals is NOT vegan.” If pests are invading your home, they have to go. JMO

  15. I am an ethical vegan, and I try to avoid killing insects, but ghost ants are taking over my home. They get in through the folds of never-opened bags of rice, pasta, flour, etc (which are then stored in gallon-sized plastic bags!). They are in my bathroom, eating away my bar of soap(!), my toothpaste, mouthwash, chap-stick. I had to buy an extra freezer to store all the food that would normally go in the cupboards, as well as the toothpaste (which I must thaw in the shower every morning/night) and soap. The house is clean, but as soon as food is around, the ants are there within minutes – usually while I’m preparing it. Sometimes they get on me and bite the hell out of me; I swear sometimes I can feel them crawling when nothing is there. They come in through cracks in the moulding, switch plates, anything! I cannot express how I absolutely LOATHE these things! I’m going to try some borax mixed with peanut butter and sugar, but if that doesn’t work, I will be forced to use more toxic, less-vegan artillery.

  16. I’v never really been bothered by ants…until this year. A few years ago I had a minor outbreak in my kitchen at 2 AM. I vacuumed them all up and washed the floor they were swarming with strasight vinegar and didn’t see a single ant the rest of the time we lived there.

    Fast forward to this year, we moved into a different house in Southern Orange County CA. It’s somewhat rural, we’re on the very edge of the neighborhood with nothing but grassland and hills behind our house (it’s on a military base, so fairly uninhabited). We have had ant problem after ant problem, as have our neighbors. I’m talking SWARMS that clmb in and out of appliances, sinks, the dishwasher, cupboards and drawers, etc.

    The housing/rental company we rent from has a policy of spraying chemicals around the interior and exterior of the houses that have ant outbreaks. But I think these suckers are becoming tolerant to the poison. Our first outbreak last month I was able to contain in a few hours with just a diluted vinegar solution and peppermint essential oil and salt on the windowsill. But this morning I woke up to a swarm all over the kitchen. I’ve spent almost all day spraying them with vinegar, but they’re entering from behnd our dishwasher and pooling in the cracks of the sinks.

    I have a guy coming out tomorrow to seal the cracks, and I’m going to put some of this bait outside right now aong their ant trail in the hopes that I won’t have to be subjected to the toxic spraying in the house where my 5 month old lives.

    I agree that killing ants is not necessarily vegan, but I think those who say “oh just repel them” really do not understand the magnitude of some household’s infestations. When you’re scratching invisible ants on your skin and finding them inside your waterbottle (that was in the fridge all night by the way) then that goes beyond just a few pests that can be shooed away.

  17. Claudette @ 2013-02-08 17:54

    I know this was posted some time ago but I wanted to add what I have done in the past to get rid of ants. Its not a nice method either but poising is not so nice it self.

    When the ants would come and not go away I would follow the trail all the way back to the ant hole. Some times they would really wind and back track but I would eventually find it. Once I did I would boil water and then pour it down the ant hole. Again, I know its sounds mid-evil but once I pored the boiling water down the hole I noticed that ants would pack their things and move. No joke. they would grab their larva babies and head else were and I would not find them in my house again for the rest of the summer. I think I would prefer that to then just poisoning a whole colony of ants.

  18. I don’t know how people fee about this, but if you wanted a nature way to take care of things you could get pitcher plants or other carnivorous plant(s). You get rid of them and the plants get their essential nutrients.

  19. This is an older posting, but I wanted to share my experience. I have had the most amazing success with this simple remedy – 24 hours from placing the traps, the hundreds of little anty invaders of my home were gone, and they stayed that way for months. I could not be happier that I found this recipe, so thanks!

  20. Petra- I am glad that this formula works for you! It continues to work really well in our house too. Thanks!

  21. This sounds like a charm! I will let you guys know how it works. For the first time in my life we have been invaded by ants. No matter how clean you are they will still find SOMETHING. Remember one crumb from a piece of toast is like a gigantic party platter for them. Also I have kiddos so they inevitably drop hings here and there. Also my dog’s food is out in the am. It is truly impossible to hve NO food remnants in a kitchen no matter how clean. I will let you all know!

  22. John Greenwald @ 2013-06-23 21:45

    These ant’s are they very small ant’s that come in and take-over mainly in the Kitchen area?

  23. oh..thank you…thank you so much for this. Ants have invaded my room and being a teenage girl that’s terrified of bugs, I’ve pretty much moved into my basement..this recipe seems easy and if it works, I’m willing to try anything. I’m very grateful for finding this…thank you so much.

  24. Yes, these ants are small and like my kitchen.

  25. I picked up some Borax and it really is incredibly amazing! I bought some and never looked back. For anyone else interested I got a great deal Here: Amazon Thanks for keeping us up on the latest and greatest. :)

  26. HokeyPokey @ 2013-12-28 19:39

    Ants are INSECTS they are NOT ANIMALS!!!!


    “Marcos @ 2010-07-17 16:33
    Ants are ANIMALS. Killing animals is NOT vegan”

  27. commonsense @ 2014-03-11 19:16

    What about bed bugs (triatimine bugs, that carry horrible diseases), fleas (same), etc.? You gonna let them eat you up and infect you with all types of nasty? How about tapeworms? They are also alive. Roundworms, heartworms, etc.? Mosquitoes? Man, you have to draw the line somewhere. Anything taken to an extreme is fanaticism. And letting insects in your home rule your life is way out there.

  28. commonsense @ 2014-03-11 19:17

    Oh, and its “medieval” NOT mid-evil. Medieval punishment were often very harsh and cruel. Mid-evil means, well, “in the middle of evil.” English! Learn it.