Do DIY Ant-Pest Control Treatments Really Work?

Just the thought of your home being infested by pests—any kind of pest—makes our skin crawl. It’s no wonder that it’s a $16.9 billion industry. And if you ask anyone working in this trade, ants are the second most difficult one to get rid of, second only to bedbugs. Even though they don’t cause the damage that termites or rodents can, they are still a nuisance nevertheless.

Fortunately, you have plenty of options for getting a problem under control. Let’s review what works with the pros and cons of each one.

Your Arsenal

It’s essential to understand the nature of pesticides. After all, their job is to kill something undesirable. There are both so-called natural and synthetic products available. While the former may seem the more eco-friendly choice, that’s not necessarily true. Many of them are broad-spectrum, meaning that they can harm non-targeted species.

The latter often takes aim at a specific pest. That minimizes the risks of using these pesticides. However, caution is still necessary, especially if you have small children or pets at home.

Liquid Baits

Liquid baits, such as Terro, contain ingredients called pyrethrins that come from chrysanthemum flowers. They work by targeting the nervous system of ants and other insects. These products work. They will also get rid of the entire colony to help prevent a reinfestation. On the downside, liquid baits can harm fish and invertebrates.

Pros:

  • Kills entire colony
  • Effective

Cons:

  • Risk to pollinators
  • Toxic to fish and invertebrates

Insect Sprays

Many of these products are synthetic versions of pyrethrins that can minimize the risks to non-targeted insects. They also kill on contact. While effective, you must also use caution. You should only apply them when children and pets aren’t present. You also find Insect sprays that contain essential oils to ward off ants. Unfortunately, these products may smell nice but won’t take care of the problem.

Pros:

  • Immediate action
  • Reduced risk to non-targeted insects

Cons:

  • Doesn’t kill the colony
  • Can harm people or pets if misused

Ant Bait Stations

Ant bait stations combine the effectiveness of synthetic products while minimizing your contact with the pesticide. Some kill on contact. Others contain ingredients that the ants can take to the colony and wipe out the source. Others are sticky and will trap the insects. You can use them both indoors and outdoors. Their usefulness varies with the type of pesticide inside of them.

Pros:

  • Minimal handling of the pesticides
  • Can get rid of the colony
  • Safer around pets and children

Cons:

  • Not as useful for large infestations
  • Not quick-acting

Boric Acid and Borax

You’ll find boric acid in many insecticides that focus on other pests in addition to ants. These products work by building up in the bodies of the insects until they eventually kill them. While borax won’t harm spiders, boric acid will do the trick if you have them in your home, too. You have to be careful using these agents to avoid inhaling the dust.

You’ll need to entice ants to ingest the powder. A little sugar mixed with either one will get the job done. While they can take a while, they do work well.

Pros:

  • Works well
  • Targets several pests

Cons:

  • Can harm children and pets
  • Toxic to pollinators

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth acts similarly to boric acid and borax by damaging the internal organs of the pests. The product contains silica from the fossilized remains of diatoms. The ants must come in contact with the powder for it to work. It will likely just kill those insects and not the entire colony. However, it is a GRAS ingredient, particularly with food-grade products.

The advantage of using diatomaceous earth or borax is that it can get into the cracks and crevices where the ants may live.

Pros:

  • Acts as a repellent
  • Generally regarded as safe (GRAS)
  • Eco-friendly choice

Cons:

  • Won’t kill the colony
  • Takes time for it to harm the ants

Vinegar Solution

A weak vinegar solution can attack your ant problem from a different front. These pests leave pheromone trails to communicate with others in their colony or signal danger. This spray can also wipe them out by direct contact. It can also interfere with their scent marking. We liked the fact that you can use it against other insects. Although stinky, the smell will dissipate quickly.

Pros:

  • Long-term control
  • Relatively safe
  • Works on other pests

Cons:

  • Requires direct contact to kill the ants

Calling in the Professionals

We mentioned that ants are one of the more difficult pests to beat. After all, a single colony can have hundreds or even thousands of insects. Then, they are so small and can get into the tiniest of places. That’s why it makes sense to call in the pros if you feel overwhelmed. Remember that you not only have to kill the ants you see but also the other insects to control an infestation.

An Ounce of Prevention

However you tackle the task, you must also take measures to prevent a recurrence. That means getting rid of what’s bringing them to your home in the first place. We suggest a multi-prong approach, starting with the kitchen. Cleaning out cabinets and the area under the sink will go a long way toward avoiding another problem. But don’t stop there.

Other things such as rinsing out the garbage can and recycling bin will also help. Don’t forget to clean under the fridge or oven, either. We recommend taking the fight outdoors, too. Check your foundation for any cracks that could provide access to your home. Trimming any shrubs or other plants close to the house will remove any cover the ants might use.

Final Thoughts

Ants are a nasty problem that often takes several weapons to defeat. Fortunately, DIY pest control treatments can help you fight the battle. Of course, prevention is the best way to get rid of these pests before it becomes an infestation. However, don’t let an ant issue get worse than it need be. Calling in a professional service could be the wisest plan of attack.