How to Troubleshoot Why Ants Will Not Eat Ant Bait

If you see ants crawling around after you have baited, you may be tempted to use an insect spray instead. But by persevering with bait, you can kill the entire colony as opposed to just a few individuals because foraging ants deliver poisoned food back to the thousands of ants remaining in the nest. Troubleshoot the baiting process to stamp out ants in your home for good.

Baiting provides an effective way to deal with ants.
    Identify your ants.
  1. Identify the species of ant infesting your home and match your bait to the type of ant.
  2. Most species of ant like sweet foods.
  3. Offer a small quantity of a grease-based bait, a protein-based bait and a sweet-based bait if you are in doubt about the species of ant. Monitor the ants to see which bait is most readily accepted.
  4. Follow ant trails to find the best location for bait.
  5. Follow a trail of ants to their exit point from the room or house. Place bait stations at or as close as possible to these points.
  6. Avoid use of insecticides while baiting.
  7. Avoid use of insecticide sprays on or near ants while using bait. If foraging ants are killed before they return to the colony, your bait will be ineffective.
  8. Keep areas clean and free of food particles.
  9. Keep counters, crevices alongside sinks and hobs, skirting boards and floors clean and free of food particles. Your bait must be the only food available to the ants.
  10. Ensure your bait supply is fresh.
  11. Maintain a good supply of fresh bait. Rancid or dried-up bait is unattractive to ants. Ensure that bait does not get wet or contaminated by other substances as this will deter ants from eating.

Things You Will Need

  • Appropriate bait for species of ant


  • Baiting can take up to several weeks to be effective.
  • You may need to use more than one dose of bait to eradicate a large colony.
  • Check that your bait does not contain cyfluthrin or permethrin, as these are actually insecticides, which will kill the ants before they return to the colony.
  • Check labels on bait containers to see what active ingredients they contain and to read guidelines for use.


  • Never place bait directly onto countertops or near food preparation areas.
  • Place bait stations out of reach and sight of pets and children or use containers that cannot be opened.
  • Hydramethylnon is highly toxic to freshwater fish; evidence does not confirm its safety for use around humans or pets.
  • Use with caution baits with boric acid or borax as their active ingredient.

About the Author

Kay Pencarrow began writing in 2000 as a reporter covering regional news at "The Cornish Times." She has a professional background in education and has written numerous programs of study and educational materials for early childhood, high school and adult education. Pencarrow holds a Bachelor of Arts in modern languages and European studies.

Photo Credits

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