Kid-Safe Ant “Poison”

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2014 • all rights reserved

Easy DIY Ant Bait

Getting rid of ants seems to be a very popular topic on The Boat Galley, and methods that don’t involve toxic chemicals are always in demand. With a 7-pound dog, I always worry about toxic solutions — Paz is so small that it wouldn’t take much to kill her along with the ants.

Earlier this spring, I got an email from George, who had just recently discovered TBG. He had grown up on a farm, where they battled ants and mice, but also had pets and kids running around. Here’s his non-toxic way to get rid of ants . . . well, it’s non-toxic unless you’re an ant:

Mix about 50/50 dry yeast and table sugar; add just enough water to make a thick paste.  Dab a little of this on the back of a match book cover* and leave along the ant tracks.  The mix will ferment in their stomachs.  Ants cannot burp and so die of a terminal case of stomach gas.

*You can use a thick piece of paper or cut a 1″ square of plastic from something in the trash, or even use a bottle cap.

Since we get ants coming in the house every spring, I had the opportunity to test this out. At the first sign of ants, I put the mixture out. I never saw ants around it or eating it, but by the next morning I didn’t see any ants, period. Normally when we get ants, we have them for a week or longer, and it takes using Terra Bait for that entire time to eradicate them.

So, was it the yeast bait? Did it really kill them? I can’t say for certain. I haven’t had any more ants around to try it on (I think that’s a good thing overall, but not so good for testing).

But yes, if I see ants again, this is what I’ll use. I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about Paz or any of the neighborhood kids getting into it, or even bumping one of the bait stations with a plate. I always hate having anything toxic in food prep areas, and don’t have to worry about yeast and sugar.

A final thought — I know that some ants are attracted to sugar and some to protein, and bait with just sugar might not interest protein-loving ants. You could add some powdered coffee creamer or peanut butter if the ants don’t seem to be attracted to just the sugar.

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  1. Sounds like this would work great

  2. If you find the nest surround it with instant grits. It works on the same principle. The ants take the grits back to the queen. Used this method in my horse’s stall for fire ants.

    • Interesting — thanks!

    • Barbara Lowell says:

      In FL all the southerners say this but every time I try it on the constant fire ant mounds it does not work at all. They bite and are so aggressive its a nightmare trying to farm and garden here, but I have 4 cats and do not want to do chemicals. I battle at least 4 diff types of ants. Tried diatomaceous earth as a perimeter around my house, did zero. Very discouraging. I will try this yeast thing, any mosquito tips would be helpful as well. Thanx to a wonderful newsletter, I so enjoy it.

  3. I’ve been looking for something I can use around my toddler – I will have to try this out! Thanks.

  4. So nice if it was true…. but lets think for a second.

    Wild yeast is everywhere. Ants that are “sugar eating” would ALWAYS be exposed to fermenting fruit. If they couldn’t deal with it they wouldn’t live long. This is a great way to feed your ants. They’ll love it.

    Of course once the yeast gets–going in a few hours–it will make alcohol, and the ants will avoid it. They are smarter than people.

    One the other hand, it’s true it’s safe for people. Unfortunately, it is safe for ants too.

    • You may have logic on your side, Bill, but a number of people have sworn it works and it certainly seemed to get rid of my ants far faster than the chemicals ever had. So I’m not willing to write it off . . .

  5. PATRICIA M DENKE, PhD, entomology says:

    1. Insects have alkaline guts. They don’t get acid indigestion.
    2. Insects alkaline guts don’t create carbon dioxide or any other gases ours do for the same reason. If you think it works based on what you know about humans, remember that they ARE NOT like people.
    3. While these may sometimes appear to work, I have not seen any of the “produce gas” type controls in a reputable spot – say an extension bulletin.

  6. Adrienne says:

    In Australia we used Ant Rid a solution made up of Borax and honey. Took a little while but seemed to work. I used to put it in the old beer bottle tops ( “happy hour” recycling? 🙂 ).
    it was available at the supermarkets. $2 in a small bottle.

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