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How to Get Rid of Ants Safely

My wife and I started composted this year and one thing we learned was that ants love our compost. We keep an old 3 lb. coffee can (the same Folgers can in this post) with kitchen compost waste and ants seem to love the chopped up fruits we toss inside. We fill up that can and then empty it about every other week. It really reduces the amount of trash we discard and it will make for some good fuel for our garden next year. But, it’s also a nice little buffet for ants.

The Traditional Advice

The traditional advice is to use ant traps and keep a cleaner kitchen. Talk to anyone who has actually had an ant problem and cleanliness, while important, isn’t the final solution. As clean as you get it, ants will find something they enjoy in your kitchen. It could be a speck of something that fell between the range and the counter and they’ll make it back there to get it. Cleanliness is important but it’s not the solution.

Ant traps themselves are often relatively effective but I don’t like the idea of using poisons. While we don’t have a dog, we learned that dogs love chewing on ant traps when we were watching my in-law’s pair of Scottish Terriers. Fortunately we only saw one going for the trap, he didn’t chew through anything so that was good. They’re also fun little toys for children, since they’re octagonal in shape and black so they look like toys, and while we don’t have kids and most visitors don’t, we’d still like a solution that’s safe for people.

Finally, the traps do lose their effectiveness after a while. Maybe our ants are smarter than most because I think I hear them laugh as they run around them, flicking me off as they go on their merry way. My response was to crack open the traps and mix in some Nutella (I didn’t have peanut butter at the time) and that seemed to work last year, but I would rather eat Nutella than bait a trap with it. So I went out on the internet to find a better solution.

The Best Way To Get Rid of Ants

To my surprise, I found my good friend Nickel writing about how to get rid of ants [3]. His solution was to mix boric acid powder and table sugar 50-50 in with some water to make a slurry. Then put that slurry in the path of the ants and watch them eat it up. Eventually they take this awesome sweet boric acid concoction back to their evil dungeon lair, share it with friends, and then take a nice long nap. Boric acid is toxic to ants but safe, in low quantities, for people and pets.

I have to admit I was apprehensive when I tried it but I saw Nickel’s advice replicated on a number of sites (Wikipedia has lots of uses for boric acid [4], though they recommend a more diluted mixture to be used in cotton balls) so I gave it a shot.

To date, we haven’t had an ant problem in out kitchen and we’ve been happily composting away!

(Photo: squinza [5])