Things You Will Need
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cup
- Spoon or stirrer
- Boric acid
- Honey, maple syrup or apple-mint jelly
- Vegetable oil or peanut butter
- Hot water
- Glass jar with lid
- Cotton balls
- Screwdriver and hammer or hole punch
- Drinking straws
- Pump or squeeze bottle with nozzle
- Permanent marker
- Dish soap
Ant traps are a bit of a misnomer, since trapping ants is actually an ineffective way of killing them. Ants that are trapped inside of a container or other apparatus are simply replaced by the colony's queen. Instead, the key to getting rid of ants is to make natural bait stations with slow-acting poisons that ants can carry back to the colony, destroying it from the inside. This method is far more effective and can significantly reduce the ant population in three to four weeks. Natural traps make use of boric acid, which is toxic to ants but generally considered safe for people and pets.
Mix the Bait
For your initial recipe, mix together 1 teaspoon of boric acid and 1 cup of honey. This bait mixture will attract ants with a sweet tooth, as will maple syrup or mint-apple jelly. Some ants prefer greasy foods like vegetable oil and peanut butter. Start with one type of bait and see if the ants like it. If you don't see any activity around your bait stations, try a different bait base. The key is to keep a ratio of 1 teaspoon of boric acid to 1 to 2 cups of attractant.
* Don't be tempted to add more boric acid to your bait. Boric acid is very toxic to ants, and research has shown [they will shy away](http://www.livingwithbugs.com/ant_bait.html) from the bait if they detect it. * For an [alternative bait recipe,](http://www.ps.uci.edu/~tomba/ants/) dissolve 8 teaspoons of sugar into 1 cup of hot water. Add 1 teaspoon of boric acid and stir well. This liquid can be set out in small containers or jars full of cotton balls.
Fill Bait Stations
Cut drinking straws into 2-inch sections, then scoop your bait into an old soap bottle with a pump or a squeeze bottle with a nozzle. Use the bottle to squeeze bait into the straws to create a bait station.
Clearly label the squeeze bottle as poison and store it out of reach of children and pets. Though boric acid is relatively safe, consuming large enough quantities of it can cause illness.
Place the Bait
Place your bait stations in areas where you have noticed ant activity, locating them as close to the ants you've seen as possible. Windowsills and kitchen counters are common hotspots for activity, but put bait anywhere you've noticed ants. If your ants are outside, use the alternative sugar water bait recipe. Place the bait in a jar with cotton balls and then punch a hole in the lid so ants can get in and out. Lay the jar sideways near any anthills you find.
Clean Your Utensils
Wash the utensils you used to mix your bait thoroughly in hot, soapy water. If there is any doubt about whether or not they are clean, throw them away and replace them.
Refill Your Bait
Check your bait stations regularly and refill or replace them when the bait has been consumed.