When it comes to getting rid of pesky insects, old-spouses' tales swarm in as thick and fast as the insects themselves. You can find dozens, if not hundreds, of articles on the Internet touting cornmeal as a natural, effective and safe way to kill ants. What you won't find is any scientific support for the notion. Try it if you will, but you may have to add a little poison to the cornmeal to keep those ants from marching one by one, two by two, across your garden patio.
How to Kill Ants With Cornmeal
The story you may read on the internet about how cornmeal purportedly kills ants usually says that ants like to eat cornmeal, and if you spread it across the paths they regularly take in your home or garden, they will eat it. Since ants can't digest cornmeal, it swells inside their digestive tracts when they drink water, killing them.
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Although the idea doesn't seem inconceivable, it is something that could be easily proved by scientific research. Given the dearth of scientific support for this system of ant-control, it seems unlikely to be effective. On the other hand, you won't endanger your kids or pets by trying this.
Although perhaps of shaky effectiveness as an ant-killer on its own, cornmeal may get the job done when used as part of a baiting system. Ant baits combine a food ants like to eat with a pesticide. Use of ant baits provides the most satisfactory control of these insects. You can give the homemade cornmeal version a try and see if it will be successful with the particular ant species invading your home before purchasing commercially prepared ant baits.
1. Mix the Cornmeal Bait
Add 9 parts cornmeal to 1 part insecticide like boric acid or borax. Bait insecticides must be slow-acting so that the ant finding the bait doesn't die before it carries the bait back to the nest. Add sufficient soybean oil to make the mixture into a paste.
2. Put into a Container
Place the cornmeal bait in recycled yogurt or cottage cheese containers with punched entry holes in the lid. Place the containers out away from areas frequented by children and pets. It is poison if ingested and can also be toxic on repeated exposure.
3. Remove Other Food Sources
Remove all other food sources. Clean your house and yard thoroughly to make sure there is nothing else for the ants to eat. Fix leaks in pipes and faucets to eliminate other sources of water.
4. Monitor the Bait
Check every few days to see if the ants are eating the bait. Different foods are acceptable to different types of ants, so if the cornmeal/soybean oil doesn't appeal to them, try something sweet , like honey, or something greasy, like peanut butter.
- Do not apply baits containing boric acid or borax to garden soil. These insecticides sometimes make soil sterile.
- Change baits if you have the container outside and it rains.