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What Are Child Safe Ways to Bait and Kill Ants?

June 10, 2021
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An ant invasion is not only a source of nuisance but also a cause of damages to pieces of furniture and the property. Repellents and insecticides are two of the common products that control ant infestation. However, these products often contain toxic chemicals and substances that are harmful to people, especially young children. 

So what are child safe ant bait products and methods to treat the ant problem at home? Parents can create a safe ant killer with ingredients they can easily find at home or buy from the store. Some natural ingredients that can be used for setting up a bait trap for ants are white vinegar, baking soda, bay leaves, essential oils, dishwashing soap, and diatomaceous earth. 

Kid-Friendly Pest Control Options for The Home  

Little kids love to snack anywhere in the house and the crumbs that fall and litter all over the floor are attractive to the ants. The most common ant species of indoor ants are carpenter ant, Argentine ant, fire ant, odorous house ant, and pharaoh ant (sugar ant). Most of them, including pavement ants, are attracted to food items, while crazy ants can be found in electrical wirings and equipment. 

Commercial insecticides such as Raid Ant Bait, Advance Ant Bait, and Terro Liquid Ant Bait are effective solutions but they may require some precaution since they can be toxic for use around kids. With that said, there are safe and easy-to-make alternatives for preventing and controlling ants at home: 

1. White vinegar solution 

Bottle of white vinegar on gray white background

Creating an insect repellent spray out of white vinegar is easy and quick. Just combine equal parts of water and vinegar in a bottle, shake, and apply them directly on the ant trail. These insects send pheromones along their trail to guide the other worker ants to the food. When sprayed on their path, the pungent smell of the vinegar can hide the pheromones so other ants cannot crawl to other parts of the home.

2. Baking soda 

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is known as a natural insecticide for ants. Its chemical composition contains a mineral acid that can mix with their digestive system and dehydrates their bodies until they die. To create an ant trap with baking soda, mix equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar in a small container. It should be placed in the area near their ant trails so they will pick up the bait and bring it to their colony. 

3. Bay leaves 

Woman holding bay leafs

Bay leaves are a natural pest-repellent plant. They can help prevent ant infestation in the kitchen and pantry where foods are stocked. When you put fresh or dried bay leaves inside cupboards or near the jars of grains and cereals, ants will naturally avoid them since they dislike the taste and strong scene of bay leaves.  

4. Essential oils

Eucalyptus essential oil bottles and leaves isolated

Limonene is a chemical found in most citrus-based essential oils such as orange oil and lemon eucalyptus oil. This substance can effectively kill ants by dissolving their exoskeletons until they are dried out and left without proteins which leads to their death. 

Other types of essential oil that can repel and exterminate ants are peppermint, tea tree oil, and cinnamon leaf oil (an alternative for this is a cinnamon powder which can be spread directly on their colony). These oils can be applied on cupboards and countertops using a cotton ball or using a spray bottle. 

5. Dish soap and water solution

A selection of cleaning products on top of a kitchen sink

Dish soap products can also be used for creating a spray solution to take care of ants. It requires creating a mixture of soap and water and putting them in a spray bottle. It should be spritzed directly on their trails or their colony (if visible), and it works by suffocating the ants until they are killed.

6. Diatomaceous earth (DE)

Diatomaceous earth is a powder treatment made up of diatoms which are a fossilized type of algae. This treatment usually requires sprinkling the powder along their usual trails. When ants crawl over the powder, it sticks to their bodies and begins to absorb the oils and proteins from the ant’s exoskeleton which will slowly dry them out until they die. It’s generally safe for both kids and pets as long as it is applied carefully. 

Learn more: Natural Ant Bait Recipes That Actually Work

How to Manage Ants at Home 

The best way to avoid ant infestation from getting out of control is to implement preventive measures that will make the home unappealing to ants. Some precautionary actions that can help in managing insect activity at home are: 

  • Keep areas and surfaces in the kitchen clean: The kitchen is one of the locations that foraging ants frequent because of the abundance of food supply and leftover crumbs. Dirty dishes can also attract ants so it’s important to immediately clean them after every meal. Counters should also be wiped clean to remove any residue that can cause ants to litter in the kitchen.  
  • Store food in tightly closed containers: Make sure that any snacks placed in containers are properly sealed since ants can crawl their way even in the small openings if they are poorly closed. 
  • Regularly throw out the garbage outside the home: Ants can also be seen going in and out of trash cans. This happens when you’ve thrown out old food and ants detect their smell from the outside. You should immediately take out the trash and place them in outdoor bins to keep ants from roaming indoors. 
  • Do daily cleaning of the house: Sweep floors or vacuum under large appliances and furniture as food crumbs and debris can accumulate in these areas. You should also check for any leaks under counters and sinks since excess moisture can also attract these pests. 
  • Secure holes and gaps that can be accessed from the outside: Ants can enter through any cracks that are accessible from the exterior of the home. Seal with ant-proof adhesive tape or caulk (works the same as a sealant) to close any openings in wall surfaces or pipes where ants can pass through. 

What Ant Bait Chemicals Are Toxic for Kids  

unwanted insects on white ceramic floor with a colorful carpet and a child holding his toy on background

To eliminate ants for good, it’s important to do a thorough inspection of the home to determine the possible location of the ant colony. Getting rid of ants permanently requires taking out the entire colony to avoid re-infestation. 

An ant colony typically comprises a queen, workers, and males. Like termites who are social insects, they have castes where each ant is assigned a particular role. Queens are the head of the colony and are in charge of reproduction along with the male ants. There is also a worker ant (foraging ants) whose main purpose is to gather food and soldier ants who will defend their nest. 

Most ant killer products contain strong chemicals that can wipe out an entire colony and destroy their anthill mound. These substances are toxic and oftentimes deemed not safe for children and pets. Some of the active ingredients that are present in insecticides include borax, fipronil, avermectin, permethrin, neonicotinoids, hydramethylnon, indoxacarb, and metaflumizone.  

What To Do When Kids Come In Contact With Ant Killer Products

There is generally a low risk of poisoning since these products have a low concentration of chemicals and it cannot work on humans in the same way that it does on ants. But when children unintentionally come into contact with these baits and insecticides, it’s safer to watch closely for any signs of irritation. 

They may also develop nausea, headaches, vomiting, muscle weakness, and skin rashes upon being exposed to pesticides. If there’s direct contact with their skin or eyes, immediately rinse off the bait from the affected with clean water and soap. If they tasted the insecticide, cleanse the mouth with lots of water. Medical care should be given if their symptoms persist. 

Other Kinds of Ant Killer Products 

If there are still ants scattered inside the home even after laying down homemade traps, there are commercial ant killer products that can be easily bought in stores such as: 

1. Boric acid 

Boric acid is an active ingredient that is present in household cleaning products and detergent solutions. It is also considered a natural pesticide that can target the nervous system and exoskeletons of ants. It’s available both in powder form which can be placed on their ant trails or it can be diluted with water to make liquid bait and spray. 

2. Ant gel 

They are a type of bait that comes in squeezable gel formulations. Most ant gels are sweet and sugary which are the tastes that most house ants love. It has a syringe on its packaging where the gel will easily come out when squeezed. They can easily be injected into cracks and crevices where ants are usually active. It also has a safety lock that prevents the tube from squeezing out the gel when children play with the product. 

3. Ant spray

Aerosol ant sprays are effective for keeping ants from entering indoors. They’re considered as a localized spot treatment since they require to be directly sprayed on the area where ants reside or along their trails. They can also be used as a residual insect spray to keep the house free from insects for a short time. They can release toxic fumes so it’s important to keep children and pets away when using the spray. 

Read more: A Guide on How to Bait Ants Successfully at Home

How to Keep Kids Safe from Ant Killer Products 

Cute little girl relaxing with her dog on carpet at home

When planning for DIY ant control at home, be mindful of handling and placing an ant bait station to make sure children do not make contact with them. Check the back label and review its contents for any toxic chemicals. You should follow the instructions for proper usage of the baits and position them in out-of-reach areas. 

Once the traps have been stationed, you should wash hands before touching and playing with children. Return any unused bait in its packaging and lock them in cabinets and high places where the kids cannot easily get them. 

Control Ant Infestations with Positive Pest Management 

Using natural ingredients to create a homemade kid and pet safe ant killer is a viable alternative to the traps, gels, and sprays that often contain harmful chemicals. It can also help to consult with pest control professionals like Positive Pest Management to find the right treatment that can safely exterminate ants for good. 

At Positive Pest Management, we are dedicated to providing efficient solutions that can solve your ant problems. Our team is equipped with knowledge and technique in using the latest ant baits and insecticides to make your home space entirely pest-free. Call us now to learn more about our pest control services.