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Get Rid of Little Black Ants (Argentine Ants) - These Ant Baits Work

Updated on December 28, 2014
DIE DIE DIE DIE DI-- ahem. Actual photo of my actual floor with actual ants.
DIE DIE DIE DIE DI-- ahem. Actual photo of my actual floor with actual ants.

3 Eco-Friendly Ant Killers (Plus Home Remedies!)

As an eco-friendly homeowner, I won't spray poison! But most ant baits don't work. Finally, I've found some that do.

Ant baits are a kind of poison that ants take back to the hive. This method isn't 100% environmentally friendly, but at least it keeps the poison where it belongs: inside the bait, and inside the ant.

Put the baits where pets and kids won't find them: behind the washer and dryer, for example. Ants go where kids and pets can't.

Since different ant species prefer different baits, I'll also share five easy steps to test what kind of ants you have. And I've got some home remedy ant bait recipes you can try, if you would prefer that to commercial ant bait. Finally, I'll recommend a few non-toxic, organic pest control methods I use which aren't 100% effective, but which are 100% kid-safe, pet-safe and environmentally friendly.

Above: Photo I snapped of ants going into a bait. I wrote this review a year ago, just added this photo. This time they found the bait so fast that the swarm was gone within about 8 hours. That's a little fast; it usually takes a few days.

Ant Bait Home Remedy

The key is to mix sugar and boric acid. Finding Borax is hard these days. Here's several Home Remedy Ant Poison recipes using sugar water or jelly. I haven't tried them, but our grandparents did.

Note: if you have grease/protein ants, see this grease ant bait recipe!

Pet-Friendly But Strong-Smelling Ant Poison

EcoSMART Ant & Roach Killer 14 oz. Aerosol (2 PACK)
EcoSMART Ant & Roach Killer 14 oz. Aerosol (2 PACK)

Before I found Terro Ant Baits, I would stop little black ants with a combination of this spray and Diatomaceous Earth (see below). Ecosmart ant/roach spray has the following ingredients: Organic Rosemary Oil 5%, Cinnamon Oil 3%, Water, Wintergreen Oil, Mineral Oil, Oleic Acid, Canola Oil, Carbon Dioxide (huh?), Vanillih, Lecithin.

If you spray ants directly with this stuff, they drop dead. If you spray their point of entry, they'll stop coming in that way, at least, and that's often enough to stop an outbreak. All these essential oils are nontoxic, they're just REALLY STRONG, so they make your house reek of bad potpourri.

Nowadays I use this to spray the bottom sill of my sliding glass door on the outside to block a key point of entry.


3 More Tips to Fight Ants

Keep your kitchen SPOTLESS. No more leaving dirty dishes for tomorrow. Put food (including pet food, I discovered the hard way) in sealed containers.

If they're going after the cat's or dog's dish, put it in a shallow saucer of water so it's got a moat. (Or spray the bottom of the dish with that Eco-smart stuff.)

Caulk every window, toilet, bathtub, and crack around the house. Ants can get through TINY holes.

Diatomaceous Earth Stops Ants - Also Good for Carpet Stains!

Concern 4 lb. Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer 970642
Concern 4 lb. Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer 970642

This stuff doesn't work 100%, but it seems to kill ants if you get it right on an anthill. It also discourages them from crossing the spot where you sprinkle it. I sprinkle it around the base of the house and put it under paver stones in my patio when I find a colony. It's white powder, so it's a little messy inside the house.

Also, you can use pure diatomaceous earth to pick up carpet stains. Sprinkle some water, sprinkle this stuff over it, and tamp hard on it with a washcloth, then vacuum it the next day. It usually gets the stain out. I haven't used this particular brand, since my current home has laminate floors, but I have used pool filter diatomaceous earth for carpet stain removal. I learned this tip from my Mom's carpet cleaning guy.

Diatomaceous earth is actually fossilized diatoms, tiny organisms whose shells are spongy, spiky, and apparently rough on ants. It's like micro-gravel.


Little Black Ants are UNIQUE Pests

Note to California homeowners: our little black ants are mostly Argentine Ants, an invasive species that has no natural predators and is starving horned lizards to extinction! So if you're a green homeowner, don't feel guilty about killing ants -- you're saving an endangered species!

How to Tell Which Kind of Ants Your Have

Test Your Ants Before You Choose Your Poison

I found the Terro baits work great on the little black ants of California, but there are many types of ants.

Some ants like sugar, some like grease and oil, and some like protein. Most ant baits in grocery stores are protein and grease, so they don't work well on sugar ants.

Here's how to check which kind of ants you have, adapted from this helpful post by Benjamin Shelton.

  1. Label 3 pieces of paper with "grease", "protein", and "sugar."
  2. Cover the paper with clear plastic tape so the test bait won't soak through.
  3. Put a dot of cooking oil (or peanut butter?) on the "grease" test, a bit of meat juices and meat (something ground-up like deli spreads; Benjamin recommended ham) on the "protein" bait, and fruit jelly or sugar water on the "sugar" bait.
  4. Place the test bait where the ants are coming in.
  5. Watch to see which bait they like most.
  6. Find an ant bait appropriate to your ants. See the bottom of this non-toxic ant poisons guide for which kinds of ants different commercial baits target. plus a recipe for grease ant poison using peanut butter, boric acid and honey.

Guestbook - Got any home remedies or tips on repelling ants? Share them here!

Submit a Comment

  • nanafisher profile image

    nanafisher 4 years ago

    very helpful

  • IntoMars LM profile image

    IntoMars LM 5 years ago

    I'm going to take some of these suggestions and see which ones work. Thank you for sharing this.

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    Argentine ants aren't little black ants, silly. see this:

  • BetsyGorman profile image

    BetsyGorman 6 years ago

    @Mickie Gee: Laughing out loud, this sounds brilliant! Knock on wood, we have not had fire ants for a few years, I (almost) wish we did so i could try this. Thanks!

  • profile image

    anonymous 6 years ago

    This got rid of my ant problem pretty fast

  • emmaklarkins profile image

    emmaklarkins 6 years ago

    Thanks for the great info! We've had an intermittent ant problem and haven't found much relief. They did swarm some butter we left out, so maybe the peanut butter/boric acid thing will work!

  • Mickie Gee profile image

    Mickie Goad 7 years ago

    I live in the southern USA and we have fire ants. My husband believes that using any kind of commercial poison is ok, but I like to take a shovel of dirt from one hill and put it on top of another hill. In turn I take a shovel from that hill and place it on the first hill. I have started a fire ant war! They kill each other off. I think it works pretty well. This is not my idea; I read it somewhere on the web, I am sure.