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  • Need some advice on borax ant bait

    This year I have a serious issue with black ants in my barrel SIPs. I have been doing soil drenches with orange oil, which reduces their numbers for a week but then they always come back with more🙄. Now that I have figs ripening I can’t be soaking my soil anymore. I’ve read some old posts here about mixing borax with sugar as bait that they will taken back to their colony.

    My main concern is, is borax safe to use around fruit trees? Do I spread the bait around the soil or is it better to put it in a bowl nearby? I’ve never tried this so any advice would be great!🙂

  • #2
    I just put some out using upside down lids from yogurt containers. 1 part borax, to 3 parts sugar and enough water to make a syrup.

    I’m having problems with them coming in the house so I can’t speak on the safety of using around trees. Seems to be working.

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    • #3
      Don’t get it near the soil. It will kill your tree. It’s a weed killer and it kills termites. They put it in fertilizers at just a few parts per million because plants use Boron in very small amounts.
      So. California, Zone 10a

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      • mwhight34
        mwhight34 commented
        Editing a comment
        This is good to know, definitely don’t want dead trees 😬. So when the ants take the borax into their colony underground, I assume that they aren’t going to take enough of it to be toxic to the plants ?

      • Finodejete
        Finodejete commented
        Editing a comment
        I believe they partially consume the bait and regurgitate it back or just carry it back to feed other ants back in the nest. Not sure if they store food in there though.

      • Titaniumgiant
        Titaniumgiant commented
        Editing a comment
        Borax acts as dehydrator for the ants. They take it, consume it and carry it to their colony. As time progresses, everyone who has consumed it dehydrates from the inside out and dies. Ants are cannibals and eat their dead. Soo whoever eats the deceased ants die as well and the cycle continues till they are all wiped out

    • #4
      If they are living in the container, you might want to try turning it on its side for a day to see if they leave.

      I would put borax bait in a container. Terro makes outdoor ant trap stakes that you can stick in the container.

      Boron is an essential micro nutrient for plants but over doing it can result in boron toxicity.

      TERRO T1812SR Outdoor Liquid Ant Bait Stakes-2 Pack, Clear https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Q552MHN...ing=UTF8&psc=1
      Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Verdolino, Black Celeste

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      • RosyPosy
        RosyPosy commented
        Editing a comment
        What he said 👆Lol, another case of taking my sweet time typing and someone else posting in the meantime. 😁

      • mwhight34
        mwhight34 commented
        Editing a comment
        I like the idea of a premixed solution in the stake, I am definitely going to try these

      • venturabananas
        venturabananas commented
        Editing a comment
        Argentine ants do love the Terro stakes. Give them them a try.

    • #5
      I used pre-made borax ant baits, Terro brand. They come as a contained stake thing that you can just stick in your pot. Making your own is definitely cheaper though. You just need some sort of container to put it in if you’re going to put it directly in the pot.
      ░░░SoCal░ ░ ͡ i ͡ ░ ░Zone░ ░9A░░░

      W/L: La Joya, Ondata, Belvedere, Bebera Branca, Fico Giallo, Vernino, Asunta 5 Paco (DF)

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      • mwhight34
        mwhight34 commented
        Editing a comment
        I was thinking I’d sinply put it in a bowl and place it on top of the soil. But the stakes you and Don mentioned seem like they’ve much simpler

      • RosyPosy
        RosyPosy commented
        Editing a comment
        mwhight34 They worked well for me last year in my raised vegetable beds. I used their large outdoor stake traps, and I also put Monterey spinosad pellets, I don’t remember the exact name, on the ant hills. We had a massive problem last year in our yard and using both of these really helped. I also will dust DE on plant leaves to keep the ants from crawling up the plant.

    • #6
      I mix with 4 parts sugar and enough water to make a thick mix like 3 to 4 parts water, then I put in empty plastic bottles and put them near my pots, in greenhouse only.
      MJ
      Chicago Zone 5
      Figbid Listings Varieties List

      Comment


      • #7
        The mix like MJA829 post above works. DONOT do like I did and think that since the syrup works why not just sprinkle it around the base of my trees? Well, I killed a few recently rooted heirlooms and stunted growth of an in-ground. See my avatar with the browned leaves. It has since recovered thankfully.

        Put it near the tree you are trying to protect.

        A weak solution works better as it doesn't kill the ant immediately but allows them to bring it back to the nest where it kills them all.
        NNJ 6B
        Wishlist: Colar d'Albatera, Mary Magdalene's and the Virgin Mary's Fig, Red Lebanese BV

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        • #8
          Borax is playing with fire...we have a LOT of birds by me and i have always tried to avoid using that cuz it can get to the wrong recipients. I have found not just for figs but pretty much in my other gardens as well, when they get plagued with ants or some similar critters...Used coffee grounds works great. I have spread it all over the top layer nice inch or 2 thick and water it, don't be shy, add more as needed, water regularly and within the next 7 to 10 days, they will vacate premises. I have never had this not work for me
          5B - Chitown

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          • #9
            Stopped by Lowe’s in the way home today and bought an 8 pack of Terro liquid bait stakes, I placed at least 2 in each affected barrel. One of them even has ants already so hopefully by this weekend they’ll be gone! Thanks to those who recommended these !

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            • #10
              Update: it’s been a week, and while there is visible evidence that ants have eaten some of the Terro bait, it doesn’t seem to have reduced their numbers at all. Every time I water the top of the soil that begin another mass exodus with their pupae and climb into the branches 🙄 I killed a ton today with more orange oil spray and managed to get a few pics of the ants, thought maybe someone here could tell me if I have some kind of special super ants or something 🤷🏻‍♂️A lot of them seem bigger than the others🤔
              Attached Files

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              • #11
                Maybe your type of ants like something other than just sweets and a different bait would work better for them. I'm not good at telling them apart, but some ants don't go for the borax/Terro baits as much as others do. Maybe add another type of bait station?
                Zone 10b, Long Beach CA
                Creator of The Original Wasp In Fly Out (WIFO) Bags
                Wish list: Bebera Branca

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                • mwhight34
                  mwhight34 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yeah at this point I’m willing to try anything🤷🏻‍♂️I have figs ripening so soil drenches and sprays aren’t a good idea right now. I’ve been looking online and these might be carpenter ants, maybe I’ll try something that specifically attracts them🤔

              • #12
                I use indoor / outdoor home perimeter bug spray. On the tree trunk. Seems to work well.
                Round Rock, TX 8b
                WL: Delicious figs

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                • #13
                  Turn those sips on their side for 24 hours and see if they leave.
                  Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Verdolino, Black Celeste

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                  • mwhight34
                    mwhight34 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    It’s definitely worth a shot, and I just pruned all the the trees after my daily ant genocide lol. After I pick the figs that are currently ripening I’ll try laying one on it’s side for a day and see I the ants take a hike

                • #14
                  Borax baits can be slower acting, unfortunately. I was reading on carpenter ants and it says they need a water source to survive and that they are attracted to decaying wood, make their nests in wood. So, if you’re using SIPS and if your potting mix is composed of wood shavings/bark, that could be the problem. I wonder if temporarily letting the SIPS go dry, just top watering enough for the plant, would help? I would also try sprinkling a heavy dose of coffee grounds on top as a repellent and perhaps use sticky side out tape on the trunk.

                  I used Monterey Ant Control Granules around my gardening beds last year along with borax baits, but it says it isn’t for carpenter ants. Unfortunately, one of the options that comes up is to re-pot with fresh potting soil. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that as I know it’s a lot of work & can add up quickly in cost. But if you do end up re-potting at any time, maybe consider a more mineral based mix, as opposed to wood based, depending on what you have now. Hope someone has a trick that can easily help!
                  ░░░SoCal░ ░ ͡ i ͡ ░ ░Zone░ ░9A░░░

                  W/L: La Joya, Ondata, Belvedere, Bebera Branca, Fico Giallo, Vernino, Asunta 5 Paco (DF)

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                  • RosyPosy
                    RosyPosy commented
                    Editing a comment
                    mwhight34 It’s a good question! It’s my understanding it’s supposed to be used coffee grounds, though sometimes it depends on who you talk to. The used ones are supposed to emit an unpleasant smell.

                  • mwhight34
                    mwhight34 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I think I’ll try the brewed grounds first and see if that will repel them 🤔 in all honesty the ants themselves aren’t really a threat, they haven’t bothered any of the ripening figs yet. My main concern is when they start bringing scale insects onto the leaves and branches.

                  • RosyPosy
                    RosyPosy commented
                    Editing a comment
                    mwhight34 That’s good they’re not bothering the figs, what a relief! Yeah, I had some bringing scale onto one of mine this year. I hate it when they do that! DE did take care of that right away though, which is good.

                • #15
                  Get a trash bag and spray/soak the inside of the bag with insecticide. Lightly spray the top of the pot just above the soil so it doesn’t get on the leaves or fruit but you could omit that part if you don’t want to take a chance on the spray hitting the tree.
                  Put the pot inside the bag and twist tie it to the trunk at soil level. Leave a hole in the bag about the size of a quarter. Most if not all the ants should leave through the hole within 24 hours.
                  So. California, Zone 10a

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