You wake up one morning and it happens. Your kitchen, which until this morning could have been on the cover of Martha Stewart Living, is now crawling with hundreds of little black ants. Not the thing you want to see before your first cup of coffee. But before you rent that hotel room, know that there is a simple, relatively painless way to solve your indoor ant problem.
There are two main methods of getting rid of ants – spraying or baiting.
For professional exterminators, liquid bait is often the solution of choice when treating a house for these pests. Fortunately, this liquid bait is also readily available at hardware stores, home stores, and major retailers.
The best-selling brand of liquid ant bait is Terro, but you can pick up any brand, as long as it is a liquid form. However, Terro has so much market share that the brand has become synonymous with the product, like Band-Aid or Kleenex.
Terro comes in two forms and application is easy:
- The first product is a small bottle of liquid contained in a perforated box. You tear the box into squares and place a few drops of the liquid on those squares to make a homemade "bait station." Place two or three of these stations around your kitchen, or wherever you see ants. As with all pesticides, read the entire instructions on the box, including the safety information, and keep placements and product out of reach of children and pets
- The second is a box of clear plastic, pre-filled bait stations. With these, you never handle the bait directly. Just snip the end of the bait station with scissors, and place two or three on a level surface in the area of the ant activity. Using bait in a station helps to keep the liquid from drying out and provides some protection against contact by children and pets. However, as with the liquid bottle, and all pesticides, read the entire instructions on the box, including the safety information, and keep placements and product out of reach of children and pets
Advantages of Liquid Ant Bait
There are several advantages to using liquid ant bait vs. ant sprays:
- With bait, the ant voluntarily eats the toxin, so less toxic material is needed than when using a surface spray. Keep in mind, regarding toxicity, the active ingredient in Terro is boric acid, also found in laundry booster (Borax) and contact lens solution. It is considered one of the safer pesticides on the market.
- The product isn't airborne like a spray, so you or your family, pets or plants won't be exposed to the toxin through "accidental drift."
- If spilled, you can easily clean the surface with liquid detergent/dish soap.
- The ants come to you instead of you trying to get it to them.
- It's a mobile insecticide. Ants take the bait back to their nest (their hidden colony that you can't reach). When they get home, they share the poison with their friends and family.
- Bait's "palatability factor" - in a liquid form, it's extremely attractive to the ants and is easily eaten and digested.
- Ant bait doesn't have the potential to backfire and cause the nest to move to another location in the house. You always run this risk when spraying a group of ants.
- You're solving a symptom with a spray, but you're curing the disease with a bait.
However, there are some downsides to be aware of in baiting for ants:
- Since the bait is so attractive to the ants, the activity may get worse in the short term, because it draws more ants to the bait. It's not uncommon for customers to call a pest control professional the day treatment, complaining that there are hundreds more ants than before. You simply have to be patient; this swell of activity subsides within a few days.
- It may take longer overall to stop the ants. Again, patience is the key. The only times I've seen Terro fail to get rid of ants is when the customer gives up too soon. When solving an ant problem, there are four generations of ants to kill - the adults, the pupae (in a cocoon stage), the larvae, and the eggs. You have to have the bait available until all four life cycle stages in the ant colony are eliminated. This can take a few days to eight weeks (the worst case scenario). Though each life cycle can take around two weeks to complete, without the proper care from adult ants, the eggs and larvae often perish on their own.
One final note: When using Terro liquid bait to solve your ant problem, make sure you reduce all other food sources, so that the bait is the only food available to them. This includes pet food, hard candy on the coffee table, dirty dishes, and crumbs on the floor and counters.
If the ants have other sources of food, it will take dramatically longer to kill the ant population.