Odorous House Ants and Homemade Baits
What are these ants?!
I live in Dallas, Texas and I am VERY familiar with outdoor fire ants! When my grandmother began having trouble with ants in her kitchen, I hurried to check it out right away! Fire ants don't typically infest homes, but they can and are dangerous when they do.
I saw the tiny dark ants scurrying all over the kitchen counters. They were about the size of fire ants, maybe a tad smaller, but a bit darker. I quickly figured out that they weren't fire ants because they didn't bite or sting!
Store bought baits didn't work...
Well, I didn't concern myself with what species of ants these were at the time. I set up several of those cute little ant baits around the counters and caulked the obvious place they were coming in near the window. It soon became obvious that the little critters had no interest in the baits.. They just considered them an obstacle and walked around them! I tried a different brand of baits with no better results. It also had become obvious that these persistent ants had found another way in after I had caulked their last portal!
Homemade baits didn't work either!
The ants had begun moving into other parts of the home. They were now in the bathroom and a bedroom. I considered calling an exterminator, but really didn't want poison all over my 88 year old grandmother's house! I looked up several bait recipes on the internet. First I tried peanut butter mixed with brown sugar and boric acid... The ants had no interest. Next I tried molasses with the poison.. Still no interest.. Vegetable oil? No, still no interest!
Time for some research!
I finally decided to find out exactly what kind of ants these were and how best to defeat them! Yes, now it was war! The problem is that all of the ant identification sites require you to know things about the ants' physical make up that you can only see with a microscope! I finally found a "test" I could do that would let me know definitely whether or not these were Odorous House Ants.. The test requires that you squish several of the ants with a paper towel and then sniff the squished ant bodies! If you smell a coconut odor, you have Odorous House Ants! So I squished about eight ants into a paper towel and sniffed.. Yes! A very coco-nutty, tropical odor! Sort of like suntan oil!
What do Odorous House Ants eat?
Research on this particular ant taught me that they can get very particular about their diet! Like most people, I thought all ants loved sugar at all times, but this isn't so! The colony goes through many life-cycle changes and the nutritional needs of the colony change with those cycles. The colony does need sugar at times, but it also goes through stages of needing protein and other stages of needing fats! The worker ants will swarm all over what is needed at the time and ignore everything else! Fascinating, huh?
How I finally baited the ants!
The trick is to figure what your particular ants are needing before you make your boric acid baits. I knew mine weren't after sugars, peanut butter (protein) or vegetable oil.. So what else to try? My grandmother finally had the answer and she didn't even know it! Not only as to how to bait the ants, but why they were there in the first place! My grandmother often fries things in flour and oil. She wastes nothing, so she keeps scraps to give to the neighbor's poor old dog. Frustrated that the ants would not eat anything I put out, she said, "Well, I had some steak scraps on the counter this morning and they just swarmed it right away! All over it before I could get it in the doggie bag!" I asked, "The chicken fried steak?" She told me yes! Chicken fried steak!!
So my grandmother had spoiled the ants with her southern cooking! (She did me too, I don't blame them!) I cut pieces of chicken fried steak into about half inch cubes and put them on small pieces of wax paper. I sprinkled boric acid over the steak and on the wax paper around the meat.
AND THE ANTS CAME!!!!!!! I finally baited the ants!!!! They immediately swarmed the tainted meat!
Well, I left the tainted chicken fried steak bait out for about 24 hours. Then we threw them out, as you don't want old meat laying around your home for any length of time!
However, while it was out, the ants just swarmed it! I hope they took enough back to the nest to kill the queen and the colony. So far I have seen no more in the bedroom or bathroom. In the kitchen I have only seen two or three scout ants. I don't know how I know they are "scout ants".. But lets just say they are..
I will keep watch over the nex few days to see the long-term results and post them here!