Boric Acid for Ants

Boric acid has been an effective insecticide for many years.

What Does It Do?
It works on insects after they eat it, as a stomach poison. Boric acid prevents the insect from turning food into energy.

Will It Harm People?
This process cannot happen in humans or animals, so boric acid is relatively low in toxicity to people and pets, especially in small amounts.

How Is It Used?
Boric acid is often used as a dust or powder. In this form, people use it to control crawling insects, like cockroaches. The insects get the boric acid dust on their bodies. Later, when they get to their hiding places, they clean themselves with their mouth. While they are cleaning themselves, the insects swallow some of the boric acid. In a few days, they die.

Why It Doesn’t Always Work in DIY
Many people apply boric acid powder in areas where they have been seeing ants. The people are often disappointed because the ants keep coming back. The reason for this is that the ant colony has thousands of members, but only a small number of workers are sent out to look for food at a time.

If the foraging workers do not come back, the colony sends out another group. In the meantime, there are many queens in the colony. The queens are constantly producing eggs to replace any workers that die.

Mixing it With Bait
To make boric acid effective for controlling fire ants and other ground-nesting insects, manufacturers have mixed it into bait. There are ant baits in the form of liquid and gel. There are also ant bait pellets that are called granular bait. Boric acid is the active ingredient in several brands of ant bait.

The boric acid is mixed with an attractant (something that the ants will want to eat). When they eat the bait, the boric acid kills the ants. If the bait works properly, the ants will eat it and then share the digested bait with every member of the colony. By sharing the bait all of the ants in the colony will be eliminated.

The Right Amount is Important
The people who make the bait have to mix the right amount of food attractant and boric acid. If there is not enough boric acid in the bait, the ants will not die after they eat it. If there is too much boric acid, the workers that find the bait will die before they can share it with the rest of the colony. If there is not enough, the ants will eat the bait but none will die.

Read the Label
Some of the granular boric acid baits are resistant to moisture, so they will not spoil if they get wet. The product label will explain his feature in more detail.

The product label will also have directions for how much bait should be applied. For broadcast applications, the application rate is usually given as an amount of bait for every thousand square feet. Large yards can be treated more easily if they are split into sections. Multiply the length by the width to find the number of square feet.

The label will also explain when and how often the bait can be re-applied. This is important because new fire ant colonies will try to invade when the original fire ants are eliminated.

Use A Lot of It
Several ant baits are being marketed with boric acid as the active ingredient. Some are dry baits. They are made in the form of pellets or chunks. Other baits are made in the form of gel. The secret to success in using ant bait is to use plenty of bait. There has to be enough bait for all of the ants to get a share. If the bait runs out too soon, some of the ants will survive. The survivors will continue to be a nuisance. If the queen survives, she will keep producing eggs and the colony will soon re-infest.