By Melissa K. Norris

• 2 tablespoons powdered boric acid (available at most stores, including pharmacies)
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• Sufficient water to make a paste

While I love living in the foothills of the North Cascades, tucked into the evergreen forests and surrounded by nature, I didn’t love the pesky colony of black ants that had moved into the wood on our back deck. The first year there were just a few, but the first warm days brought them out in droves.

We couldn’t sit on the deck and soak up the sun (sometimes a rare treat here in the Pacific Northwest) because the ants would crawl over our toes, up our legs and over the chairs. If you have ever been bitten by an ant, you know those little nasty buggers can pinch hard. The kids would try to eat a snack outside but the ants would attack any food in the vicinity. Apparently, they thought our homemade, gluten-free chocolate oat bars were just as tasty as we did. 

Having children, pets and my kitchen herb garden near the deck, I didn’t want to use store-bought insecticides. And living over 60 miles from the nearest home-and-garden store, I didn’t want to waste the gas, time or money to go purchase something. But I couldn’t stand by and let the ants destroy our wood or our enjoyment of our outdoor space. So I mixed up a batch of this natural ant killer.

Mixing Instructions: Mix together equal amounts of boric acid and sugar. Slowly add just enough water to make a paste. Put it on a shallow saucer or soak a cotton ball in the mixture. I was out of cotton balls and a saucer worked just fine.

Place the cotton ball or saucer where the ants are active. Drop some of the paste around the saucer and on the surface area. Use a ramp (a piece of kindling worked great) for the ants to climb up onto the saucer. Leave it out for a few days. The ants will eat the mixture, take it back to the nest and feed it to the other ants. The first treatment eliminated all but two ants. A second one wiped them out completely.

This article originally published in THE NEW PIONEER® Fall 2014 issue. Print and Digital Subscriptions to THE NEW PIONEER magazine are available here

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