I posted the following to alt.lawn.home.garden, with little response. So
I thought I'd try here...
We live in the Arizona desert near Phoenix and have a significant problem
with large black ants in the yard. We have had exterminators (costly),
but they were only successful for a period of time before the ants
I had read somewhere that one could make a solution of water, sugar, and
borax (boric acid?), which was an effective poison for ants. The problem
is that I don't know the proportions that should be used.
Can anyone here help with this? Are there other homemade options that I
don't know about? We're trying to steer clear of commercial products, and
also stay as "green" as possible.
On Tue, 26 Aug 2008 01:31:17 +0000, Wayne Boatwright wrote:
Its nice to "Stay Green" but you have to look at it from the side of
going to war with the Ants. We live up in Indiana with alot of large oaks
in the yard. We fight ants all the time.
If your going to really control them then you should get some type of
poison that they carry back to the nest and kill the others. Especially
Probably the reason the exterminators where only successful for a period
of time is because they didnt use something that would be taken back to
the nest to destroy the queen and such.
We use the stakes you put in the ground with the poison in them. Havent
seen too much of the ants after we started this. Takes a week or so.
That "take it back to the nest and destroy the queen" thing is largely
a myth. You can teach the ants not to eat that particular food but the
colony (or one of the princesses) will survive and they won't be
eating that bait anymore.
I had the ants so well trained here the only thing they would eat was
dog food the dog had chewed on, then I baited with that. Then they
just walked around and I never really saw them eating anything.
Finally I tracked down the nest and dosed them with Ortho Ant and
Termite ... with extreme prejudice. (3 gallons of mix at label
strength) I haven't seen them for a while now.
I disagree (strongly).
Andro ant bait (and some others) work quite well and will kill the colony.
Wayne, you can try all the borax and homemade remedies you want, but
unless you find nests and use an effective pesticide you'll have a
Judicious use is obviously the key to being politically correct as well
while still managing to control the problem.
You will, of course, never be able to entirely eliminate all ants but it
should be possible to find dens of the large ants or at least their
working trails and baiting them will eliminate the high numbers pretty
We have the large red ants here -- it's a continual battle as it's a
farmstead surrounded by over a mile of unbroken native grass in all
directions (so the ground isn't tilled to help disturb the critters). I
carry a shaker w/ me on the tractor when mowing around the outbuildings
and corral, etc., and eliminate new colonies as I find them. That keeps
them pretty much from establishing new colonies inside the actual yard
area itself. The little ants for the most part I ignore unless they
think it's time to move into the house. I've never had a pinch of Andro
fail to stop them in that case, either, altho the wife will use the
borax thingie for weeks w/ little real effect before I'll (usually
surreptitiously) spike her efforts. Then next morning she'll usually
remark she "won"... :)
On Tue, 26 Aug 2008 02:50:20 GMT, Wayne Boatwright
Boric Acid dissolves the exoskeleton when the critter walks on it.
They don't eat it, but simply walk across the powder. Soon they
evaporate, so to speak. They may carry the acid into the nest and
other ants die as a result.
Make a sweet spot and have them walk over the acid. Mom called it a
Mix a small amount of water into dry bori acid. Keep this water at a
minimum. The idea is make a thick paste.
Use a bottle cap and fill it with paste.
A small drip of stawberry preserves on top. Sprinkle around the
preserves with dry boric acid.
They can't resist the sweets :-)
After having my house treated for termites with Termador all the ants
disappeared also and that has been 7 years ago.
I do occasionaly see a new ant hill but it soon disappears. I think
part of this success is that all my neighbors also had their homes
treated with Temador.
At work we also had an ant problem that we had been battling for many
nears. After getting the building treated for termites with Termador
the ant problem was also alleviated.
This is excatly what our exterminator did. He sprayed not only around
the house, but our fence where he noticed them, and the 2 oak trees on
our property. It's been 3 months now and still no sign of black or red
carpenter ants. I paid like $300. I was skeptical, but it worked. He
used something that gets tracked back to the nest, so even later when
ants try to make a nest of it, they'll get killed too. Not sure how
long the stuff lasts, but so far, so good.
Ants are not the dominant species on the planet by accident.
Pussyfooting around with ants is likely to make the problem worse.
When a colony is placed under significant stress it will subdivide to
assure survival. You might see fewer ants for a while, then they'll
come roaring back in greater numbers.
Check out Talstar One.
You can buy it on ebay, probably, depending on your state law. You
can get a Birchmeier backpack sprayer there, too. Bifenthrin is not a
USDA or EPA restricted use pesticide. It's marketed primarily for
termites, but it's a broad spectrum (kills a lot of things) multi-use
(interior/exterior/turf & ornamental insecticide.
You might get it, or something like it at your local greenhouse.
Eh. "Professional" often means "gets paid" in the pest control
I am imagining a very large ant population, although you only
described the "problem" as "significant". The two don't necessarily
go hand in hand...
Anyway... controlling... rather "eliminating"... a significant ant
population outdoors is going to be a multi-application job, unless you
were to use a tree sprayer.
(One of the benefits of having your trees sprayed (by a real
professional) is the overspray, so you might want to think about
I have heard and read good reports regarding interior treatment ant
"baiting" (the junk they take back to the nest, etc.) but I remain
skeptical. Just because you don't see ants doesn't mean they aren't
there, but I hear the callback rate is low.
In about half the interior instances IME the homeowner had a
significant problem before they noticed the first ant.
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