When ants invade your home, you want nothing more than to eradicate them immediately. While you'll find many ways to rid your home of ants, boric acid is one effective way to send the little critters packing. Boric acid is inexpensive and it works well, but precaution should be taken to protect kids and pets.
Boric acid is a commonly used household pesticide. It is created by combining the mineral borax, which is commonly used in laundry applications, and a strong acidic component. Boric acid is available at nearly any discount, home improvement or gardening store near the pesticides. It is usually packaged in a plastic container with a squirting lid similar to a ketchup bottle, but is sometimes found in individual bait traps that can be placed throughout an area where you're experiencing an infestation. In addition to ants, most boric acid preparations are also effective at killing roaches and other small insects.
How It Works
Boric acid is a slow-acting insecticide that will induce death in the ants not long after they have consumed it. The boric acid preparations that you purchase from the store are usually mixed with a sweet-tasting ingredient that ants and other insects are drawn to. The worker ants pick up the boric acid compound and bring it back to their colonies to share with the other ants. As the ants eat the boric acid-containing bait, they will soon die off. Boric acid works particularly well because of its method of action. When the ants take the bait back to share, it kills all of the other ants in the colony that eat it, including the queen. This action has a distinct advantage over contact pesticides, which kill only the ants that come into direct contact with the poison rather than killing all of the ants in the colony.
Boric acid is usually applied anywhere you see ant trails: along baseboards, inside cabinets, inside closets and anywhere else you see ants crawling around. You may notice an increase in ant activity for a day or two following the placement of the boric acid bait, but this is to be expected. As the ants discover the bait and take it back to the colony to share, they'll likely attract other ants to do the same. Let the ants find and take back the bait, and within a few days, you will notice that the ant volume will diminish and they will eventually disappear completely. Once you have noticed no ants for several days, you can remove the boric acid bait. Some commercial boric acid compounds come ready-to-apply while others require you mix them with sugar and warm water and then place the liquid on cotton balls, inside of soda pop lids or in other small containers to attract the ants. In these types of products, the ratio of sugar to water to boric acid depends on the concentration of the boric acid. The specific instructions for the application of the boric acid vary by the product type manufacturer, so check the label on your bottle to ensure that you are properly applying it.
Orkin explains that if the boric acid baits you've placed in your home do not work, you should contact a pest control specialist to avoid damage to your home. While boric acid is considered to be a natural form of pest control, you should still keep it out of reach of children and pets. If your child or pet consumes any of the boric acid bait, contact Poison Control.