Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Homemade Ant Poison That Really Works

This is my all-time favorite ant killer: a cheap homemade ant bait using BORIC ACID (not to be confused with baking soda, which won't work). You can buy boric acid from any pharmacy or dollar store. Combine it with any ingredient that will attract your target ants.

I've found the big black carpenter ants and many other kinds of ants like a bait made of sugar water/boric acid mix. I put in enough boric acid to make a thick "soup" with super sweet sugar water, and pour it into numerous shallow "dishes" made from plastic yogurt or butter container lids. I put the bait where the feeding ants wouldn't be so visible (and annoying). Keep out of reach of pets and any children that might be tempted to eat it... I can say with 100% confidence: if you put out enough boric acid bait, and if you are persistent enough, you will win the battle with ants in your home! Eventually, over several days to a week, the ants will have brought back enough poison to decimate the entire nest.

I'm not sure if this will work on fire ants, but I will certainly try it and report the findings here! I'd love to hear from anyone who has...

(PureCajunSunshine wanders off, muttering...what can be used as a homemade fire ant bait to mix with boric acid? hmmm...)

This article may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This article is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #5: QUICK SUBSTITUTES and EASY FORMULAS FOR OVER 100 "CAN'T-DO-WITHOUT" ITEMS. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site: http://purecajunsunshine.blogspot.com/


macadamia_man said...

SEE: Review of the efficacy of baits used for ant control and eradication

by Margaret C. Stanley
Landcare Research, New Zealand
Contract Report: LC0405/044

Solenopsis invicta (red imported fire ant) Bait matrix (attractant + carrier): The bait matrix most commonly used in baits to control S. invicta is a soybean oil attractant impregnated on a defatted corn grit carrier (Lofgren et al. 1963; Williams et al. 2001). This bait matrix was developed in the 1960s when research showed that although peanut butter baits were very attractive to S. invicta, they were not practical for large-scale treatments (Williams et al. 2001). When the corn grit is defatted, it soaks up and carries more oil and therefore toxicants. S. invicta appears to be consistently attracted to lipids (C. Vanderwoude, pers.comm.). Trials comparing the acceptability of fats
and oils to S. invicta, found animal fats, such as tallow and cod liver oil, to be particularly
attractive, and soybean oil to be the most attractive vegetable oil (Lofgren et al. 1964).
Although most experts agree the soybean oil on corn grit carrier is the best bait matrix
currently in use for S. invicta control, not all studies have shown such consistent preferences
for plant oils. In field tests in Louisiana (USA), Ali and Reagan (1986) found molasses
(carbohydrate) to be a better attractant over short exposure periods (30 mins), while peanut oil
(lipid) was better over long exposure periods (120 mins). While Presto® (fipronil in a fish
meal matrix) was found to be unattractive to S. invicta in Brisbane (Australia) (C.
Vanderwoude, pers. comm.), trials in Georgia (USA) found canned tuna to be far more attractive to S. invicta than peanut oil, honey or egg (Brinkman et al. 2001). Stein et al. (1990) in Texas (USA) trials found S. invicta preferred a carbohydrate bait (agar and grape jelly) in the colder months (mean = 17oC) and a protein (tuna fish cat food) bait in the warmer months (mean = 25oC). Lipids were not compared with proteins and carbohydrates in this trial.
Hooper-Bui et al. (2002) point out the importance of observing the biology of and behaviour
of the target species. Field trials in Alabama (USA) showed that S. invicta preferred food
particles >2000 μm, while Amdro®, Ascend®, Award®, Bushwacker® and Maxforce® (Fipronil) all have particles 1000–2000 μm (Hooper-Bui et al. 2002).
Bait preferences for most species probably vary according to season, and thus the most
effective bait matrix will depend on the time of year control is undertaken. However, effective
control of S. invicta has been achieved numerous times in the USA and Australia using the
soybean oil–corn grit bait matrix during the summer (e.g., Jones et al. 1997; Barr 2003a;
Harris et al. 2004). Collins et al. (1992) report S. invicta control using Amdro® and Logic®
(both have the soybean oil on corn grit bait matrix) is effective in summer and maintained for 11 months, but is erratic in autumn and winter, and is maintained for only 6 months when infestations are treated in spring.
During New Zealand incursion responses, Biosecurity New Zealand found S. invicta preferred
sweet (20% sucrose water) baits (Ashcroft 2004). They also found that Maxforce® baits with
ground silkworm pupae matrix attracted more workers than Maxforce® baits with the
soybean oil on corn grit matrix (Ashcroft 2004). Recruitment to Exterm-An-Ant® (sweet bait
matrix + boron based toxin) baits by S. invicta was poor (Ashcroft 2004).
Toxicants and commercial baits: The primary objective of S. invicta control in the USA
(where most S. invicta control is carried out) is temporary suppression (on-going
management) of ant populations rather than eradication (Williams et al. 2001). Mirex was the
first toxin to be used extensively in a bait formulation (soybean oil on corn grit bait matrix)
for the control of S. invicta. It was aerially applied to more than 56 million hectares in the
USA from 1962 to 1978 (Williams et al. 2001). Since, mirex was withdrawn from the US
market in 1978, Amdro® (hydramethlynon in soybean oil on corn grit bait matrix) has been
the mainstay of effective fire ant control during 1980s and 1990s (Williams 1993; Killion et
al. 1995; Allen et al. 1997; Allen et al. 2001; Williams et al. 2001). Sulfluramid is a toxin that
proved to be as effective as Amdro® (hydramethylnon) at controlling S. invicta, but it was
withdrawn from the US market in 2000 (Banks et al. 1992; Web 3).
The efficacy of Amdro® has been compared with newer insecticides. Fipronil (0.0015% in
vegetable oil on corn grit) was just as effective as Amdro® in field trials at controlling and
eliminating S. invicta colonies in Mississippi (USA) (Collins & Callcott 1998). Plots in Texas
(USA) treated with Chipco Firestar® (0.00015% fipronil) maintained effective control of S.
invicta over the course of the 52 weeks, while reinfestation was beginning to occur on plots
treated with Amdro® (Barr & Best 2002). Fipronil thus appears to be as effective as Amdro®
for controlling fire ants, although the environmental risk profile of fipronil is worse than that
of hydramethylnon (Web 7; Web 8; C. Vanderwoude, pers. comm.).
Summer field trials in Texas (USA) have shown S. invicta colony death in plots treated with
indoxacarb (soybean oil on corn grit matrix) is rapid; within several days to a week (Barr
2002a; Barr 2003a). Indoxacarb baits are able to control S. invicta populations more rapidly
and slightly more effectively in summer than Amdro® (Barr 2003a; C. Barr, pers. comm.).
Autumn field trials yielded similar results, although effective control was much slower for
both compounds (Barr 2003a). Barr (2002b; 2003b; 2003c) has also field-tested a new
commercial formulation of indoxacarb – Advion® (soybean oil on corn grit + 0.45%
indoxacarb) in Texas in both summer and autumn against S. invicta (Web 11; Web 12). It
performed well (at least equally as effective in terms of speed of control and mound
reduction) compared with Amdro® (hydramethylnon), Firestar® (fipronil), and Ortho®
(spinosad) Barr (2003b; 2003c).
While toxicants such as hydramethylnon, fipronil and indoxacarb provide relatively rapid and
effective control of S. invicta, control is not usually maintained for long periods. Reinvasion
may be fairly rapid (within a few months) depending on the size of the treatment area (Banks
et al. 1992; Barr 2003a). Repeated applications of Amdro® are often required to maintain
control of S. invicta populations (Apperson et al. 1984). Reproductive inhibitors, such as
abamectin, take longer to reduce or eliminate S. invicta colonies, but often maintain control
longer than toxins such as Amdro® (Lofgren & Williams 1982; Greenblatt et al. 1986). While
sterile queens remain alive in colonies treated with reproductive inhibitors they prevent
Landcare Research
adoption of new queens by the colony, whereas colonies treated with Amdro® adopt a new
queen after nuptial flights and brood production resumes (Apperson et al. 1984; Greenblatt et
al. 1986).
The advent of commercially available insect growth regulators has given pest controllers the
ability to target S. invicta reproduction and development better with minimal risk to the
environment. Mitchell and Knutson (2004) reduced S. invicta foraging in peanut orchards by
85–98% 2 months after application of Extinguish® (methoprene). Autumn broadcast baiting
with Logic® (fenoxycarb) at bird rookeries in Texas (USA) reduced S. invicta populations by
79–99%, and maintained this control throughout the spring and summer bird-nesting period
(Drees 1994). However, spring and summer treatment is optimal for IGRs: Barr (2003a)
showed methoprene to be relatively ineffective in autumn treatments of S. invicta. In an
eradication attempt, Jones et al. (1997) applied Logic® (fenoxycarb) to four sites (Oklahoma,
Tennessee, Arkansas) at the invasion front of S. invicta, followed 1 week later by an
application of a contact insecticide, Orthene (acephate). A week would have given workers
ample time to distribute the fenoxycarb around the colony. Orthene was then applied to
accelerate the effects of fenoxycarb by reducing the numbers of workers and brood, and to
prevent reinvasion. Eradication was achieved at three out of the four sites (Jones et al. 1997).
However, the design of the trials does not allow assessment of the efficacy of fenoxycarb
alone without addition of Orthene.
Several reports have compared the effectiveness of different IGRs in laboratory and field
trials. Banks and Lofgren (1991) showed fenoxycarb (Logic®) and pyriproxyfen were equally
effective in reducing laboratory and field populations (91–97% reductions) of S. invicta in
spring and summer in Florida and Georgia (USA). While there is some evidence from trials
on other ant species that pyriproxyfen is more effective than fenoxycarb (Reimer et al. 1991),
this comparison has not been made for S. invicta. Logic® (1% fenoxycarb) has proved to be
repellent to Wasmannia auropunctata in laboratory and field tests (Williams & Whelan
1992). Methoprene may not be totally effective in reducing or eliminating brood production,
and in some circumstances methoprene-treated queens can eventually overcome sterility
effects and resume egg production (B. Drees, pers. comm.; C. Vanderwoude, pers. comm.).
Therefore, some S. invicta control programmes have used pyriproxyfen (B. Drees, pers.
comm.; C. Vanderwoude, pers. comm.). Of the chitin synthesis inhibitors (CSIs),
teflubenzuron shows excellent potential to control S. invicta in the field (Williams et al.
1997). A field trial in Florida, which compared teflubenzuron with Logic® (1% fenoxycarb),
found baits with 0.045% teflubenzuron were just as effective as Logic® in eliminating
colonies (Williams et al. 1997). Experiments carried out during the eradication programme for
S. invicta in Brisbane (Australia) found the Australian-manufactured methoprene (Engage®)
and priproxyfen (Distance®) baits to be more attractive to S. invicta and more effective in
controlling small to medium-sized colonies (1500–50 000 workers) than the equivalent USAmanufactured
baits (Extinguish® – methoprene; Esteem® – pyriproxyfen) (Hargreaves et al.
2004; Plowman et al. 2004a).
One baiting practice that is becoming more common is application of both an IGR bait for
long-term control and an insecticidal bait, such as Amdro®, for rapid knockdown (Drees
2001; Greenberg et al. 2003). These bait mixtures are known as hopper blends (Drees 2001).
While IGRs are of minimal risk to the environment and provide long-term control (preventing
colony recovery), rapid reduction in S. invicta populations may be required in sensitive areas,
such as playgrounds and residential areas, or where there are concerns about dispersal before
IGRs take effect.
Landcare Research
In Texas field trials, Amdro® (hydramethylnon) + Logic® (fenoxycarb) was more effective
than Amdro® or Logic® alone (Drees et al 1994). In Brisbane (Australia), an attempt to
eradicate S. invicta from 21 300 ha (infestation peaked at 67 890 ha) has been underway since
2001 (FACC 2004). Four applications per year (September to May treatment season) have
been made using methoprene, pyriproxyfen and hydramethylnon (FACC 2004). By the end of
the 2002/03 season 97.5% control had been achieved (Harris et al. 2004). S. invicta had been
controlled on 95% of the 202 infested properties treated with 8 applications of IGRs and on
98.1% of the 622 infested properties treated with 8 applications of IGRs and Amdro®
(hydramethylnon) (Vanderwoude & Harris 2004). There was no significant difference in level
of control achieved with or without the addition of Amdro® (Harris 2004). Unfortunately,
data to assess the relative efficacy of methoprene, pyriproyfen and hydramethylon are not
available (Harris 2004; C. Vanderwoude, pers. comm.). However, methoprene is reputedly
slightly less effective than pyriproxyfen, and methroprene was used only near waterways,
since registration of pyriproxyfen prohibits its use within 8 m of waterways (Harris 2004; C.
Vanderwoude, pers. comm.).
A new combination bait, Extinguish Plus®, containing both an insecticide (0.365%
hydramethylnon) and an IGR (0.25% methoprene) is being manufactured by Wellmark (Web
19; Web 20). The manufacturers state, “Extinguish Plus® will start to kill ants after they feed
on the bait. The colony will begin to decline in about a week, after the bait has been brought
back to the mound. The mound is destroyed, when the queen dies” (Web 20). Barr and Best
(2000) undertook field trials experimenting with different ratio combinations of Amdro®
(hydramethylnon) and Extinguish® (methoprene). Although they did not find any extra
efficacy benefit from using both chemicals in a blend, they believe inclusion of an IGR in an
Amdro®-type bait will have ‘safety-net’ benefits in hot, dry conditions where Amdro® shows
reduced effectiveness (Barr & Best 2000; Barr et al. 2001).
During New Zealand ant incursion responses, Biosecurity New Zealand used Maxforce®
baits with the ground silkworm pupae matrix, and Maxforce® baits with the soybean oil on
corn grit matrix (Ashcroft 2004). Recruitment to the bait with the silkworm pupae protein
matrix was higher. However, Maxforce did not appear to have the desired effectiveness in
elminating all nests within a week or two (Ashcroft 2004).
• Use Distance® for gradual control and Engage® near water bodies (as used in the
Brisbane eradication programme) for elimination of colonies.
• Follow up Distance® or Engage® treatment with rapid knockdown control using
Amdro®, particularly if concerned about sensitive areas and dispersal via ant nuptial
• Investigate the attractiveness and efficacy of Advion®, Xtinguish®, and Chipco Firestar®
as alternatives to Amdro®.

susie said...

I just sprinkle on the boric acid powder, they walk through it and it sticks to their legs, they go home and lick it off...and that's all, they're dead.

MistysBarn said...

Susie, liked your way of answering. Obviously Macadamia Man is a nut! LOL